Last week, Google announced that it will sunset Universal Analytics in favour of Google Analytics 4 on July 1, 2023. In a blog post, Russell Ketchum, Director of Product Management, Google Analytics, cited two reasons for the impending change.
First, Google Analytics 4 is better equipped to measure cross-platform user behaviour. So, if your company has an app and a website, GA4 can understand how users interact with both properties, and how their behaviours carry between the two.
Second, Google Analytics 4 is ‘designed with privacy at its core.’ Over the past several years, users have become increasingly aware of – and concerned about – the amount of personal data companies like Google were collecting from them for marketing purposes, often without consent. Those same companies have recently sought to emphasize user privacy; Google has pledged to phase out cookies, for example, which makes it more difficult both to target ads and measure their effectiveness. GA4 seeks to provide meaningful data measurement to advertisers while respecting, as much as possible, internet users’ right to privacy.
Among the features Ketchum highlighted are ‘data-driven attribution’ to measure the ‘full impact of your marketing across the customer journey’ and assign credit to ‘more than just the last click’; new machine learning capabilities, including ‘sophisticated predictive insights’ and the creation of ‘new audiences of users likely to purchase or churn’; and expanded integration with Google Ads.
However, Universal Analytics is still the de facto measurement tool for many companies and digital marketing agencies, including GrowthEngine Media. Transitioning to GA4 will take time and effort, and Google has yet to offer any real incentive for adopting the new platform. There are also concerns about the availability of historical data once Universal Analytics becomes obsolete next summer, which puts pressure on agencies to convert to GA4 as soon as possible.