As announced by Google and as you may have already noticed from the message in your Google Analytics account, Google Analytics Universal will be switched off from July 1st, 2023 (360 version on October 1st, 2023). That means from this date no more hits will be processed. Access to Universal Analytics Properties will be changed to read-only, but you will still be able to run analytics on historical data (for a minimum of 6 months). A transfer of historical data from Universal Analytics to newly created Google Analytics 4 Properties is currently not possible due to the different data model and we consider it very unlikely that this will change.
This announcement came as a great surprise, as the entire industry had only expected an end to Universal Analytics years later. Important functions are still missing in Google Analytics 4 and connections to external services mean a lot of effort for many integrations. Google itself justifies the forced change by saying that Google Analytics 4 better complies with data protection regulations. That's true, but Google Analytics 4 does not comply with the German data protection requirements either, at least not with normal integration.
Well, it is what it is and we should all plan to migrate to Google Analytics 4 as soon as possible if you haven't already. Since the new Analytics 4 introduces a completely new data model, a migration from Universal Analytics Properties is hardly possible or only with high data losses. Therefore, an additional Analytics 4 property should be created (and integrated), parallel to the existing Universal Analytics property) in order to collect data there for later comparisons.
From our point of view, Google Analytics 4 is far from finished and we don't like some aspects of it at all. However, the basic tracking model is a step up from Universal Analytics (which is still largely based on Urchin). The new Analytics 4 also brings many advantages:
Advantages of Google Analytics 4
- Data protection-oriented and future-proof, for example IP addresses are no longer tracked (but still transmitted)
- Functionality with or without cookies, which allows you to learn more about customers despite gaps in the data
- Direct data import
- For larger data volumes, machine learning algorithms are used to improve marketing performance
- Cross-domain measurement directly in the GA4 user interface
- Cross-platform and cross-device insights for a complete understanding and efficient tracking of the entire customer journey
- The focus is on events and users, which means that events such as button clicks and page views can be better tracked in the app or website
- All hits are measured as events, which means that all tracked user interactions can be compared with one another and allow for much more flexible analyses
- Ability to edit and synthesize events without code customization
- Meaningful analysis through "enhanced measurement" in which more events and changed KPIs are measured
- Currently free connection to BigQuery
- Set up a new GA4 property in parallel to your current Universal Analytics property as soon as possible, if this does not yet exist, so that you already have sufficient historical data for the conversion
- Make sure that the tracking of the new property is seamlessly integrated and that all events, goals, transactions, etc. that you track in your previous Universal Analytics property are also measured here
- Over the next few months, familiarize yourself with the new Analytics 4 user interface and metrics
- Convert the dashboards you use (e.g. Google Data Studio) and reports to the new data source in the next 12 months
We are happy to support and advise you on these points in the form of specific adjustments to the tracking, the reports and the implementation of user training. Please do not hesitate to contact us.
For customers using our Tracking Proxy:
We are currently working very hard on a Google Analytics 4 connection and will complete this in a few weeks. This means that (as with the Universal Analytics connection) there will no longer be a direct connection to Google and personal data (such as IP address, Google User ID, click parameters, etc.) will be removed before it is transmitted to Google. In the classification in terms of data protection, nothing changes compared to the Universal Analytics connection. We will inform you again separately after the completion of the Analytics 4 connection.
Addition on April 19, 2022: Read access should be possible for at least 6 months after deactivation of write access.