11 most frequently asked questions regarding the end of Google Universal Analytics

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Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics

Google Analytics is seen by many as the tool to analyze website traffic and data. Currently, there are two running versions, Google Universal Analytics and the new version Google Analytics 4. Recently, Google announced that this precursor will come to an end in July 2023 and can therefore no longer be used.
We go over the 11 most frequently asked questions about the end of Universal Analytics and give you an answer to them.

1. What happens with Universal Analytics in 2023?

Google recently confirmed that it will stop the use of Universal Analytics and completely switch to Google Analytics 4. After June 1st, 2023, you will not receive any new data if you don’t make the switch to the new Analytics. Are you using the paid software suite, 360 Universal Analytics? Then you still have the time until October 1st, 2023.

2. Why does Google make the switch to the new Analytics 4?

Google Universal Analytics (= Google Analytics 3) is the replacement of the classic Analytics and has been around since late 2012. The age and functionalities of GA3 are starting to weigh on the tracking capabilities. That’s why Google wants to make the switch to the newer version.
The 3rd party cookie issues in Europe may also have an influence on this. The new Google Analytics 4 is a cookie-free method for gathering and measuring website visitors and other relevant data.
The biggest difference is in the measurement method. For example, Google Analytics 4 does not use page views, transactions, social hits..., but hits are seen as an event
In addition, the Google Analytics 4 dashboard has a completely new interface, making it easier to find data.

The path Google is following with the change to GA4 is rather atypical. In previous versions, you were not required to upgrade, and you always had the option of accessing your old data. With this switch, that is not the case anymore and you will lose almost all historical data from Universal Analytics as of 2024.

3. Which features are not found in the new Analytics 4?

Not all features of Universal Analytics are included in the new GA4. This means we have to look at things differently or look for alternative ways. Below we have listed some of the features that will disappear or change significantly.

  • GA4 annotations: can be solved by using external tools.
  • Bounce rates: replaced by engagement rates.
  • AMP experiments: currently not possible.

4. What happens with my old Google Analytics data?

After the end of Universal Analytics, your historical data will stay available for processing for six months. After that, this data will no longer be available (!), and you will have to continue with your Google Analytics 4 data.
It is therefore recommended to save your historical data in an Excel file, as Google currently does not offer the possibility to transfer data from your old property. This way, your historical data will always remain in your possession.

5. Will my Universal Analytics data remain available after the end in 2023?

According to the current timeline, Universal Analytics will stop processing data in July 2023 and the tool will no longer be accessible 6 months later. This means that as of January 2024, you will no longer be able to access the data in Universal Analytics. See also the previous question.

6. When is the right time to switch to the new Google Analytics 4?

It’s recommended to make the transition to Google Analytics 4 as soon as possible, ideally before July 2022. This way you already have a year of historical data in GA4, at the time you can only collect data this way.

7. How can I tell which version I’m using now?

If you are not sure which version you are using now, you can look at the property ID on your Google Analytics page. If it starts with UA-, then you are using the old Google Universal Analytics and you should make the switch as soon as possible. 

Universal analytics - property ID

8. Does the tracking setup have to be done all over again for Google Analytics 4?

If the event tracking was set up using tags, triggers or variables in Google Tag Manager, then you can use existing variables and triggers, and only the tags need to be adjusted. If the tracking was hard-coded, you'll have to start over from scratch. Tip: this is the ideal time to simultaneously use a tag management solution such as GTM.

Not quite sure how to do this yourself? Our experts will be happy to help you further.

9. Will the end of Universal Analytics affect my Google Ads accounts?

For now, the discontinuation of Universal Analytics will not affect your Google Ads accounts. Only after the end of Universal Analytics in July 2023, Google will no longer be able to pass Ads data to your Analytics accounts.
Google, therefore, recommends that you: 

  1. Migrate Google Ads links from the old Universal Analytics property to your new Google Analytics 4 property 
  2. Then import conversions 
  3. Add target groups to a campaign or ad group.
Google analytics property

10. Which steps can I take myself to maintain my website tracking?

Google recommends making the switch to Google Analytics 4 as soon as possible. This way you can get as much data as possible during this period to ensure a smooth transition. 
Don’t know how to install the new Google Analytics? Feel free to contact us. Our experts are happy to help you.

11. What should I do if I have Google Data Studio Dashboards running on Universal Analytics data?

The measurement method used by the new GA4 is very different from Universal Analytics. As a result, interactions such as page views, downloads, etc. , have to be adjusted manually. As a result, old dashboards that run on Universal Analytics data are not immediately usable without some adjustment.

Ready for the next step with Google Analytics 4?