Google, the global tech giant that is so much more than just an internet search engine, announced in October 2020 that it will replace UA (Universal Analytics) with GA4 (Google Analytics 4, or G4). Now, we hear you say: what does that have to do with me? Essentially, it means that you will need to switch to GA4 to keep receiving your analytics data if you haven’t already.
From the 1st of July 2023, your traditional UA will no longer collect any website data. Without getting too technical, or at least we’ll do our best not to, we’ll explain what’s changing and why. Let’s start with a bit of background.
What is Analytics?
It’s a small piece of code that we plant into the back end of your website that tracks a lot of useful data about your website users. The code is added to every page and puts a cookie in the browser of each site visitor. The platform then provides you with a complete picture of how your site is performing.
There is a huge amount of data being tracked, and it can be overwhelming, but some of the info that is super useful to you includes:
- Site visitor statistics including location
- Mobile vs desktop use
- How users found your site
- Which pages on your website are most popular
- How long visitors stay on your pages
- At what stage of a visit users leave your site
Basically, Analytics is one of the many tools that Google provides to help people understand what visitors are doing on their website and it’s free to use. It collects a huge amount of data and processes that in a user-friendly dashboard. It then generates reports to display that data to you. With those reports, you gain heaps of insights that you can use in your digital marketing strategy.
Where does it come from?
The analytics tool was launched by Google in November 2005 when they acquired Urchin as a service that tracks and reports website traffic. Urchin Software Corp. began under the company Quantified Systems that was founded in 1995 – even earlier than Google. After the takeover, the web statistics analysis program was renamed (Classic) Google Analytics.
Since those early days, it has quickly grown to become the most used web analytics service. As you can imagine, it has undergone many updates since its inception. The integration of the pay-per-click (PPC) pricing model AdWords, now called Google Ads, in 2009 was one of the most significant additions.
Released in October 2012 as a beta for “premium customers” and made accessible to the public in 2013, Universal Analytics offered new tracking codes for websites and tools that gave more in-depth information about user behaviour, as well as a bunch of back-end improvements.
In 2016, all Classic Analytics properties were automatically merged to Universal Analytics. Since then, all new properties added have belonged to Universal Analytics. A key goal of Universal Analytics was tracking the same user across different devices.
In October 2020, Vidhya Srinivasan who leads the Measurement & Analytics team at Google, announced that they were about to launch another important update to its measurement platform and named it Google Analytics 4 (GA4 or G4).
What is the difference between?
G4 doesn’t work the same as UA. It doesn’t collect the same data and it looks different, too. Essentially, G4 has the same functions as UA with a few differences to keep web companies like us on our toes! The layout is different and many of the reporting measures have also been titled differently. This means the information is available but it’s harder to find if you, like us, are used to working with UA.
Automatic reporting is no longer a feature with this new rollout, so monthly reports will no longer be sent out. That doesn’t have to be an issue, as we think that the new and improved reporting from your Google Business Profile provides all the relevant data you need anyway. It’s nice and simple, and not exclusive to your website either.
Why is Google changing Analytics?
Changes to customers privacy online and industry concerns around privacy were the biggest reason for the update. GA4 was developed to better focus on customer privacy due to the recent implementation of privacy laws such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The new update enables innovative tracking without invading the privacy of consumers.
Also, the way we use online technology has advanced considerably and the new measures of G4 aim to better track our website users and their behaviors. More about that can be found here, straight from the horse’s mouth: Link to
In a nutshell, G4 is more secure and collects both website and app data to better understand the customer journey. Where Google Analytics previously was a analytics tool focused on the web, G4 is designed to measure the audience and your users’ most important actions.
What does this mean for Monster clients?
GA4 is already available, and it’s the new standard. This means that when you create a new property, GA4 is preselected by default. If you created your property before October 14, 2020, you’re likely using a Universal Analytics property. But if you created your property after October 14, 2020, you’re likely using a Google Analytics 4 property already, and no action is required.
However, since Google made the announcement, our team has been busy upgrading all our clients to G4. In most cases, we are running both UA and G4 accounts to maintain access to the historical data. At some point, all UA accounts will be deleted as they’ll become obsolete. As this change is part of our monthly hosting and care plans, you won’t be charged for the work.
Everyone at Monster Creative likes to keep up with the evergreen changes of the online space, and we pride ourselves in providing you with the latest and greatest in online trends and technologies. For us, it’s about making things easy for you!
We are happy to give you access to your new G4 account and a quick overview on how it works. If you run active marketing strategies or have a website with a high volume of traffic, then understanding the new G4 and all its data will be valuable.
This new and improved Google Analytics update will give you the essential insights you need to be ready for what’s next. If you have any concerns or would like more clarification about the Google changes to Analytics, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help, so feel free to book a call now! Link to