July 1, 2023 is a date that will get people talking! Google Analytics, a tool most commonly used in digital marketing, is under development.
July 1, 2023 is a date that will get people talking! For months, users of Google Analytics, a tool most commonly used in digital marketing to collect browsing data from websites and applications, have seen the display at the top of their account: “Universal Analytics (UA) will no longer process new data from 1 July , 2023. » Universal Analytics is the current version of Google Analytics, which has been replaced by Google Analytics 4 (GA4). More than a version update, Google is completely rethinking its relationship with data collection and analysis, all in a profoundly changed market context, both by new uses by Internet users and by initiatives aimed at improving the protection of their privacy. It is important to implement GA4 as soon as possible for all site managers who wish to remain on Google’s Analytics package. The time is even able to adopt and lead changes in organizations to calmly prepare for the transition.
Universal Analytics vs. Google Analytics 4 (GA4): development markers
In order to better respond to the changes in the digital ecosystem in recent years, Google Analytics has introduced several structuring new features in its latest version. The possibility of consolidating application and web data within the same property is one of those made possible by a technical reconciliation carried out between Firebase and Google products.
The (partial) answer to the well-known user duplication problem is another. In Universal Analytics, cross-device and cross-browser users are not deduplicated. By introducing new features based on customer ID or Google Chrome login information, GA4 counts users more accurately by leveraging new signals. Similarly, the latest version of Google may make it possible to model the behavior of users who do not want to be tracked for privacy reasons.
Another significant development, GA4 allows from its free version to dump daily raw navigation data into BigQuery, Google’s cloud data warehouse. Exporting this data brings Analytics into a new era for data analysts who are able to structure their own analytics and dashboards and connect navigation data to other assets such as data from a CRM, product catalog or back office.
From implementation to adoption to anticipate the transition
The last few months have allowed webmasters who wanted to stay on the Google suite to implement GA4. It was important to anticipate this exercise in order to gather data as quickly as possible and build a history that can be used over the next few years. In parallel, Universal Analytics is always added to ensure the continuity of the analyses. One of the pitfalls in this implementation phase was thinking that GA4 was just a version update. Since GA4 has its own data model, it was necessary to fully understand this implementation phase to draw the full potential of the tool. Some reports are unique to GA4, some activations and integrations too.
In recent weeks, we have been working with our customers to accelerate the adoption phase of GA4 and change management. With data collection secured and reports now populated, a new phase of understanding the reported data is essential to promote the gradual transition to the tool in organizations.
In addition to the functional differences mentioned above, the challenge for stakeholders is to understand the new datasets available from the interface. What does modeling entail in terms of traffic increase and conversions? What does an intersection between an application, the mobile site and the desktop mean, and what are the implications for the attribution of conversions to the right acquisition handles? How do you interpret a new metric like “Likely to buy within the next 7 days” and use this data in Google Ads? These issues are not trivial and may be of a concern to the user who will most likely notice data differences between the two versions of Google Analytics. If there is no cause for concern, an in-depth analysis should be performed to understand and explain these differences and communicate them within the organization.
It is also in this sense that we now invite our customers to anticipate the depreciation of Universal Analytics. If internal management dashboards use Universal Analytics data (via a native connector in your BI tool, a Cloud solution, or an API), start building their GA4 counterpart! Google Analytics is also a marketing management tool. Are you sure you’re not relying on UA Audiences and Conversions as the core of your ad management system?
The work of investigation, analysis, dissemination of knowledge and training is indeed the challenge at this end of the year 2022 for all GA4 users. With the abandonment of UA, Google presents us with a change management challenge. Preparing now for this transition will change the situation in July next year. Data is actionable and leveraged when it inspires trust.