Google Analytics
is one of the most widely used Analytics tools. Therefore, it is also used by many German companies. For some time now, Google Analytics 4 Properties have been available in parallel with the previous Google Analytics. An ongoing debate around data privacy and the use of so-called cookies suggested for a bit longer that sooner or later GA4 will completely replace the old Google Analytics.

On March 16,2022, Google announced in a blog article that the final conversion of Universal Analytics to GA 4 will take place on July 1,2023. In plain language: There will be no old Universal Analytics after that – it is necessary to switch to GA 4 if you want to continue working with Google Analytics! For all website operators who are still using Universal Analytics today, this results in a corresponding need for action and, of course, also some further questions in the run-up to the necessary migration – we briefly highlight these here.

Under the


Google Analytics 4 migration


we understand a controlled change from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4, which ideally includes a parallel operation of both systems for several months. However, you should inform yourself well in advance and be prepared for all eventualities.

What has changed in Google Analytics 4 compared to Universal Analytics?

Google Analytics 4 is a completely new development. It is based on a different technological foundation and therefore inevitably differs from Universal Analytics. The major changes relate to almost all important areas:

  1. Data Collection: The collection of data from events has been completely revised. This applies in particular to the tracking of pageviews, conversions and other information.
  2. Data model: The data model of GA4 is event-based and therefore differs significantly from Universal Analytics
  3. Metrics: Some dimensions and metrics have been redefined, e.g. Analytics 4 introduces new metrics. an engagement rate to replace the previous bounce rate.
  4. Administration: The administration has been redeveloped, in the course of which, for example, data views and filter options have been removed.
  5. User interface: The user interface has changed significantly. All reports have been changed. Overall, there are significantly fewer standard reports than with UA.
  6. E-commerce: Includes new dimensions and metrics
  7. Product integration: The integration of Google products such as Google Ads, Google Search Console and BigQuery has been newly implemented for Google Analytics 4.
  8. Integration with 3rd Parties: Many 3rd party digital marketing tools do not currently support data from Google Analytics 4, but this is sure to change over time.

So you shouldn’t think of Google Analytics 4 as an update to the old Google Universal Analytics, but as an upgrade to a completely redesigned Analytics solution.

Benefits of Google Analytics 4 migration: more data, better analytics, more data protection

Google Analytics 4 Property offers many tangible benefits both for the future and now. These include, for example, better reporting and easier configuration of tracking tags.

  1. Google promises to use machine learning to analyze the data
  2. With data modeling GA4 should fill in missing data
  3. More control over the data: the collection, storage and sharing of the data can be organized more easily
  4. Privacy-compliant anonymization of IP addresses is now standard and no longer needs to be activated separately
  5. GA4 now also measures scroll depths or clicks on external URLs almost automatically
  6. GA4 offers a variety of new ways to visualize data, including funnels, pivot tables, and scatter plots.
  7. In the past, UA mobile apps were measured in a separate property. It is now possible to track multiple data flows (e.g. web, iOS and Android), i.e. tracking of smartphone apps can now be included in a Google Analytics 4 Property.

The Google Analytics 4 migration at a glance

Google Analytics 4 will replace Universal Analytics. On July 1, 2023, all standard Universal Analytics properties will no longer process new hits. 360 Universal Analytics properties will no longer process new hits after July 1, 2024.

If you have a Universal Analytics properties, you need to migrate. Check if you have a Universal Analytics properties. The sooner you migrate, the more historical data and insights will be available to you in Google Analytics 4.

Start using Google Analytics 4 today to get a complete view of customer behavior on the web and in apps using modeled data from first-party vendors. Enhanced machine learning capabilities, meaningful reporting, and new integrations help you adapt to an evolving data protection and technology landscape so you continue to get the insights you rely on.

Google Analytics 4 migration for more user experience

GA4 puts a focus on user-friendliness and allows users to automate workflows quickly and easily. This saves the time that would otherwise be needed for manual activities. Furthermore, GA4 enables the creation of reports and dashboards that support the daily workflow and make it clear.

  1. You can now set certain filters (e.g. exclude internal access) directly in the reports, but data views, as known from UA, are omitted in the free version of GA4.
  2. Frequently executed interactions will be available out-of-the-box as standard in the future
  3. Standard targets can also be activated more easily in the future
  4. In addition, individual destinations can be created as their own events and then marked as destinations
  5. The analysis options have become significantly more extensive overall in GA4
  6. In advanced analyses, new methods such as cohort, funnel, or user life-time analyses are offered

Furthermore, the user can decide whether to accept cookies, for example. via Google Tag Manager (GTM) in the user’s browser or stored on the company’s own server. The latter is more costly, but the more sustainable approach in terms of data protection.

In addition, Google has already announced that GA4 should work cookieless in perspective

When is the right time for the Google Analytics 4 migration?

The ideal time to migrate to GA4 depends primarily on how controlled you want the change to be and how well you want to understand the expected changes in data collection and analysis (versus the old Analytics).

Optimal time for GA4 migration: 12 months before end of UA on 01.07.2023

It is advisable to start using the new GA4 tracking no later than 7/1/2022 to gain the maximum learning curve and insight. Based on this, you would collect a full year of data in parallel with both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4, which would then include the full seasonal progression of your business. This makes it particularly easy for them to understand how changes in data collectionm, metrics and, of course, dashboards or reporting will affect them. Especially if your business (e.g. eCommerce) is characterized by a seasonal pattern, we recommend this early start with GA4.

Acceptable time for GA migration: a few months before the end of UA

If your business doesn’t have any outstanding seasonal peaks, this approach is still recommended. You can start tracking with a new GA4 Property and thus compare data and understand the differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 for half a year at the latest on January 1, 2023, before you will then only have the data from GA4 available from July 2023.

Worst time for GA4 migration: Just before 01.07. 2023

If you implement the new GA4 on your website just before the old Google Analytics version shuts down, you won’t have time to learn and understand. The more complex your website and customer journey, the more problematic it is to go down this path, and the less control you have over data-driven decisions for website rebuilds or Google Ads campaign adjustments. This approach results in a break in data continuity between old and new reporting.

Google Product Links in Google Analytics Migration

One of the great advantages of Google Analytics has always been that it is more than just a web analytics tool. Also in its new version GA4 is a total system that has a high added value thanks to the various internal and external product linkage. The main product links in GA4 management are as follows:

  • Google Ads Link
  • Search Console link
  • BigQuery linking: In addition to access to raw data, one of the big advantages of this BigQuery integration is that it can be transferred to your own systems. Thus, BigQuery linking is actually one of the most important features GA4 offers.
  • Google Looker Studio

What is the best way to prepare for the change to GA4?

If you decide to migrate to GA4, this is a good opportunity to take a hard look at your tracking. So take your time and plan your Google Analytics 4 migration implementation wisely. This is especially true for event tracking, but also for Google Tag Manager and reporting. Remember: because of the different metrics, there will be no data continuity – so be extra careful!

Summary

As of July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics will no longer process new hits. If you’re still relying on Universal Analytics, we strongly recommend you prepare for the future by moving to Google Analytics 4, Google’s next-generation measurement solution.

Google Analytics 4 provides a flexible, event-based data model that allows you to map user journeys across your website and apps. Google machine learning fills gaps in your data with modeled insights and predictive capabilities, so you can get better results and grow your business.

And GA4 is designed to keep pace with a changing ecosystem because it’s not cookie-only. Thus, even in case of data gaps, you have the possibility to learn something about your customer.

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