As marketers, we live in a digital world. A big component of that world involves measuring data. And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Google Analytics is the most widely used digital metrics tool around today.
But because Google is, well Google, the digital giant is making some changes, and we all have no choice but to embrace them. (Embrace may be too a strong word, but what can we say, we’re optimists.)
The analytics dashboard as we know it is going away as of July 1, 2023. While that sounds like a long time from now, it’s not. Especially since the changes are pretty significant. We’re talking new metrics, functionality, the whole shebang. Getting ahead of the changeover will help ensure the integrity of your data — both now and in the future.
Old vs. New
Unless you’ve created a brand-new Google account in the past year or so, you’re using the “old” system, called Universal Analytics (UA). If you were to log in to your dashboard today, you will likely see an ominous warning at the top of the window, strongly suggesting that you convert to the new platform, Google Analytics 4 (GA4). You might be a little apprehensive about pulling the trigger, er, clicking the “Let’s Go” button, and we don’t blame you.
What the prompt actually says is: “Universal Analytics will no longer process new data in standard properties beginning July 1, 2023. Prepare now by setting up and switching over to a Google Analytics 4 property.”
This is a little confusing because Google uses the word “property” a couple of ways. Each version of its analytics platform is a property (UA is a property, GA4 is a different property), but your website, app, or blog are also “properties” that connect to your analytics dashboard.
Yeah, we know. (Insert eye roll here.)
To break it down: When you initiate the transition from UA to GA4, Google will create a new dashboard (i.e., mechanism) within your Analytics account to collect your data. You will then have to manually link your website, app, and social media properties to this new dashboard.
The Not-So-Good News
We recommend making the change now for a few reasons: One, because UA will stop collecting data. The old stuff won’t go away, but nothing new will show up on that dashboard after June 30, 2023. And two, because UA and GA4 won’t talk to each other. So, if you want to compare website users from fourth-quarter 2018 to the same period in 2023, you will have to pull two separate reports and compare them manually.
And that brings us to the final reason: some metrics are changing or going away completely, which means you won’t have an apples-to-apples comparison of historical data. If you transition now, you’ll start collecting information using the new metrics, so by the time July 1 of next year rolls around, you’ll have data from both dashboards to figure out how the difference in metrics reflects actual performance.