What does Google terminating Universal Analytics mean for you?

Richard Robertson

Data & Analytics Consultant

Google has just announced that starting from July 1st 2023, all Universal Analytics (UA) properties will no longer process any new hits. If you are a 360 customer, you’ll have an additional three months with an extended deadline of 1st October 2023.

Universal Analytics was first released in fall 2012 and for the last 10 years has been a dominant platform in the web analytics space with most people using Google Analytics today relying on its data.

“This announcement has been a long time coming with the introduction of ‘Web + App’ back in July 2019, later rebranded to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) in Oct 2020. Despite how long GA4 has been in this space, Google only made GA4 their default/recommended implementation method in 2021 – and the industry would have expected a much larger timeframe for the deprecation of Universal Analytics. This will have an impact on businesses who do not act fast.”

- Krishan Gandhi | Head of Data and Analytics

Universal Analytics’ end of life is in 2023, why should we care today?

If you have not set-up a Google Analytics 4 property to run alongside your Universal Analytics one, it is vital you start planning to do so now. To maintain the ability to compare performance year on year (when UA is deprecated), you will need to ensure your new GA4 property is up and running before July 1st 2022 (or October 2022 for 360 customers).

If you have already set up GA4 to run alongside Universal Analytics, you should not sit back and have a cup of tea just yet. This is a fantastic opportunity to revisit your measurement framework to ensure you are ready to exclusively start using GA4 when the time comes.

What are the main differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4?

The new data model is the main difference between the two versions. Universal Analytics had 7 hit types compared to GA4’s event-based data model using a single hit type ‘event’.

When an ‘event’ was sent to Universal Analytics properties, it passed along three parameters (Event Category, Event Action, and Event Label). This is no longer the case in GA4, now up to 25 parameters can be sent with a single event all user defined.

It is important to note, Custom Dimensions are no longer available in GA4, instead you will need to use event parameters to pass similar data to Google Analytics. Making the migration to GA4 slightly more complicated than changing the tag type in Google Tag Manager.

This core difference in data model unfortunately makes the data between Universal Analytics and GA4 incomparable, as its processing and collection method is so vastly different.

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