In a recent blog post, Google announced that they will be sunsetting Universal Analytics on 1st July 2023 and Universal Analytics 360 on 1st October 2023.

This blog takes a look at what this means and how you can make sure your brand is prepared for the upcoming changes.

What is Google Analytics 4 and how did we get here?

In March 2005 Google acquired a web statistics platform, Urchin (first developed in 1998) and later that year introduced the first version of Google Analytics. This went through several iterations before what we now know as universal analytics which was launched in June 2012 with the ability to track users across mobile and multi-devices with the rollout of the user ID.
In October 2020 Google released Google Analytics 4 with the idea of future-proofing analytics as we move towards a cookie-less future in a multi-device and platform world with AI-powered insights. The new version includes predictive insights, deeper integration with Google Ads, cross-device measurement, and a better understanding of customer lifetime value.
The latest version of analytics has lots of features, including customer lifecycle reporting, better attribution modelling with data-driven attribution, better tagging/measurement, privacy-focused and predictive insights.

What is changing?

As of 1st July 2023, Google will stop processing hits for universal analytics properties and 1st October 2023 for Analytics 360 (the premium paid version of universal analytics). The data will be available for at least 6 months after but you won’t be able to continue to collect data.

Why is this change happening?

Google is pushing Google Analytics 4 for a number of reasons not limited to but including;

  • Cookie-less future – Google Analytics is designed with privacy at its core, and will no longer store IP addresses; this aligns with new data protection laws and supports Google’s objective of moving away from cookies, which is key for Google. Google Analytics 4 is geared towards a multi-device platform and an event-based model allows automation of tagging events.
  • Attribution/LifeTime Value – A big focus for Google is around cross-platform analysis, lifetime value and predictive analysis. Lots of the new features in Google Analytics 4 focus on understanding the value of a customer and predictive analysis.
  • Slow adoption – Many brands have been slow to adapt as people don’t like change so by ending support for universal analytics, (similar to how Google have done this with other products such as the new Google Ads interface), forces people to innovate and move with Google.

How can I prepare for this?
At AYKO we recommend all brands set up a Google Analytics 4 profile as soon as possible. Although it takes some time to get used to the new interface there are lots of great features in Google Analytics 4 already. It will be key when looking at YOY data to ensure that you have a year’s worth of data when the changeover happens so it’s worth at least setting up a profile in the background if you continue to use universal analytics and collecting data in advance of the switch. This way you can iron out any tracking issues and ensure when the change-over does happen you’ve got data there ready and you’re not starting from fresh.

For more information on how to set up a Google Analytics 4 profile and how best to prepare for the switch get in touch with our marketing experts today.

Chris Tate

Digital Marketing Director