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.The message UA users have been seeing since January 2022.
Universal Analytics is sunsetting in is officially sunsetting July 2023. Universal Analytics will be a thing of the past in only eight months of writing this post. Is that enough time, or are we awaiting a mismanagement/mass-confusion scenario similar to when Google acquired the analytics platform Urchin in 2005 – thus becoming Google Analytics by 2008? Those with experience with Urchin will remember it as a simple web log app, including some petty graphics.
In the mid 2000s, Urchin was the only key player in digital analytics unless savvy marketers were able to traverse raw http logs. Those that are data-nostalgic remember the VIDA system and The Schedular features fondly. Intentionally forgotten, however, was the disastrous migration to Google Analytics from Urchin. Google acquired and transformed Urchin over a 3-4 year period from ’05 to ’08-’09.
Fun & Cool Trivia Facts You Should Already Know:
The common UTM tracking method is named after Urchin: Urchin Tracking Module
Google’s Urchin Analytics immediately suffered downtime due to demand and license transfer issues. They introduced a sloppy lottery system to existing (paying) Urchin users. On top of that, Google introduced a new concept: asynchronous tracking codes, which caused SEO’ers, media buyers, banner buyers, popup purchasers to adjust to an entirely different landscape in a few months. Everything was different, new, cutting edge, and full of cookies. Here’s the difference between Universal Analytics and GA4 that makes me, my colleagues, and my nightmares have doubts:
- Google Analytics & the rest of the Marketing Platform has mostly remained the same since 2006. The UI, the technology, and the core functionality have been familiar to marketers and analytics teams for 8-10 years.
- Third-party cookies are now becoming obsolete- Google, Apple, Facebook- Meta- and all tech giants in-between have all informally agreed to ‘end ‘rework’ 3rd party cookie tracking and implement their version of event based/1st party tracking.
- GA4’s user interface, report building, integration capabilities, sampling thresholds, attribution modeling, and event/conversion tracking is entirely different than what marketers have been familiar with- in many cases- most of their careers.
Ten months ago, I needed a refresher on Amazon’s KDP platform to consult a client in the same industry. I published a short e-guide book from my past brief writeups on GA4. I imported three pages or so related to GA4 event tracking, compiled it into a Kindle eBook, set it at the lowest price (.99 cents), and forgot about it.
The fact that my ‘placeholder’ eBook on Amazon generated nearly 100 sales is proof that many marketers are scrambling to GA4. It was clear that marketing teams, contractors, fractional CMO’s, CMO’s, devop teams, adtech teams were unprepared or blind-sighted with Google Analytics 4.
I’ve polled our agency partners, software partners, and tech partners in the last few months about their knowledge of GA4 and to summarize:
- Bigcommerce Enterprise Solutions team just last week (December 2022) just finished the most basic GA4 native integration.
- As far as I know, Shopify’s GA native integration is still entirely confused about GA4’s new tag format.
- Magento/Adobe Commerce recently started charging a fat fee for the most basic eCommerce level tracking.
- Woocommerce natively introduced basic GA4 eCommerce tracking within their official GA plugin.
I want to finish with an excellent read on Search Engine Journal by Greg Jarboe published several months ago, regarding the consequences of Google Analytics 4 Migration. He begins by perfectly summarizing the web analytics team’s transformation as an IT team subsidiary and how GA4 will completely separate these two departments for good (or worse!).
The “web analytics” team still sits in the IT department in far too many organizations.
Because the team was originally created back in 1995 when web analytics meant servers, log files, and complex handwritten code to parse the log files and pump out reports.
So, putting them in the IT department made perfect sense back then.
But, data collection, storage, and processing have all moved into the cloud (hosted by your application service provider rather than in-house).