Farewell to Universal Analytics and Welcome to GA4

Date: July 5, 2023

RIP Universal Analytics (2012-2023)

On July 1st, 2023, our dear friend Universal Analytics (UA) crossed the rainbow bridge and joined their fellow departed friends Urchin and Classic Google Analytics. Read on as we reflect on the legacy of Universal Analytics and look to the future as GA4 takes over filling the rather large shoes Universal Analytics is leaving behind. 

In Loving Memory of Universal Analytics

In Loving Memory of Universal Analytics: Let us gather here today, with a mixture of fondness and a touch of geeky nostalgia, to bid a humorous farewell to our dear friend Universal Analytics. With its trusty abacus and a spreadsheet full of pixelated memories, Universal Analytics was the wise elder of data analysis, the Grand Poobah of digital metrics, and the OG (Original Geek) of analytics tools. As we wipe away a tear while holding a floppy disk-shaped tissue, let us take a trip down memory lane, where “sampling” was a dance move and “dimension” was just a fancy word for a parallel universe. Oh, Universal Analytics, you may have gone to the cloud in the sky, but your legacy will forever be etched in our hearts, like an easter egg hidden in the source code. Universal Analytics, your time has come, but your legacy will live on in our dashboards, forever reminding us of the simpler, yet gloriously quirky, times in the realm of digital measurement.

Looking to the Future 

While we in the digital marketing community will miss Universal Analytics dearly, the future’s still bright with GA4 stepping in to fill Universal Analytics’ shoes. 

What is GA4?

GA4 refers to Google Analytics 4, which is the latest version of Google’s web analytics platform. It is designed to provide businesses with insights into user behavior on their websites or apps. GA4 offers advanced features and a more comprehensive approach to data analysis compared to its predecessor, Universal Analytics (UA).

Why Google Chose GA4 to Honor the Legacy of UA

While GA4 introduces significant changes and enhancements, it still retains key elements of UA to ensure a smooth transition for existing users. Here are a few ways GA4 honors the legacy of UA:

  • Data Import and Reporting: GA4 allows businesses to import their existing UA data into the new platform, ensuring continuity and preserving historical data. This feature helps businesses leverage their past data while transitioning to GA4.
  • Familiar Concepts and Metrics: GA4 maintains some familiar concepts and metrics from UA, such as sessions, and users, making it easier for users familiar with UA to adapt to the new platform. This continuity in terminology and metrics helps users bridge the gap between the two versions.
  • Cross-Version Reporting: Google provides cross-version reporting, enabling businesses to compare and analyze data from both GA4 and UA within the same interface. This feature allows for a unified view of data and facilitates a smooth transition without disrupting ongoing reporting and analysis.
  • Customization and Flexibility: GA4 offers increased customization and flexibility compared to UA. Users can define and track events based on their specific business needs, allowing for more granular data collection and analysis. This enhancement acknowledges the diverse requirements of businesses and empowers them to tailor analytics to their unique goals.
  • Support and Resources: Google has provided extensive documentation, guides, and resources to help businesses migrate from UA to GA4. They have also offered support and assistance to ensure a smooth transition and enable users to leverage the new features and capabilities of GA4 effectively.

By incorporating familiar elements, preserving historical data, and providing support for migration, Google aims to honor the legacy of UA while introducing the advancements and benefits of GA4. The transition is designed to empower businesses with a more powerful and future-proof analytics solution while ensuring a seamless user experience. 

The Bright Future of GA4 

While the passing of Universal Analytics took SEOs and digital marketers by surprise, the future of analytics is bright with GA4 at the helm. There are many benefits GA4 provides to its users, such as allowing for cross-platform and cross-device tracking. This allows you to track a user’s journey across a mobile app (if you have one) and your website. Additionally, the cross-device tracking lets you track a single user’s journey across multiple devices. For example, say a user found your law firm by searching on their phone, and then later that day, they went to look you up again on their desktop computer– with the use of GA4, you would be able to track the full journey of that potential client. 

Some additional benefits of GA4 include: 

  • Uses first-party cookies instead of third-party cookies, which makes the software more compliant with data privacy laws 
  • More custom dimensions and metrics 
  • Enhanced data visualization capabilities 
  • Uses a measurement model based on events and parameters instead of sessions and pageviews which provides greater flexibility 

It’s Officially Time to Say Goodbye to UA and Hello to GA4  

While we would all love to hold onto Universal Analytics a little bit longer, unfortunately it is time to say goodbye. 

As a law firm or any other business that has a website, it’s imperative you get your GA4 account properly set up and running with conversion tracking in place because as of July 1, 2023, your data is no longer being tracked within Universal Analytics. Therefore, without embracing GA4, you will lose the analytics tracking on your website until it is set up and you’ll be missing out on valuable data. 

Need Help Setting Up Your GA4 Property?

John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” At 9Sail, we understand that change can be hard and we are here to help should you need any guidance during this period of change with Universal Analytics’ passing. 

If you would like to gain a better understanding of GA4 and how it differs from Universal Analytics, join Ryland and Taylor from 9Sail as they dive into an in-depth walkthrough of GA4 and how it works during their upcoming webinar on July 26th.