The web analytics tool Google Analytics has been part of the tracking standard for many websites for years. However, the tried and tested Universal Analytics is now being replaced by Google Analytics 4. As Google has announced, data collection via Universal Analytics will be discontinued on July 1, 2023 - access to the legacy data will still be possible until the end of 2023. So from the middle of next year, there will only be the new system. But what are the differences? And what needs to be considered when switching to Google Analytics 4?
New features of Google Analytics 4
In addition to a new user interface, one of the fundamental changes between the two versions is the switch from hit-based to event-based measurement, which promises a stronger user focus. In this context, there are also some preset events that are measured by default. Individual events can, as before, be created via the Google Tag Manager. In addition, cross-platform measurement of data between website and app is possible. Another advantage is that the data in standard reports is actually collected and not calculated from samples, as was previously the case with Universal Analytics. The data basis in Google Analytics 4 is thus more accurate.
Rethink the tracking concept
Since the data basis and the attribution of the data change, the measured values from Google Analytics 4 are difficult to compare with those from Universal Analytics. Existing dashboards can therefore not be linked 1:1 with the new system. For this reason, the changeover should be used as an opportunity to rethink existing tracking. In the process, a concept should be created that is as goal-oriented and clear as possible and that focuses on the most important KPIs. Unnecessary data that makes it difficult to focus on the essentials should be minimized.
Google Analytics 4 integration process
Swith to an alternative web analytics tool
Instead of switching to Google Analytics 4, the changeover can also be used as an opportunity to consider using a different web analytics tool. Especially since Google is repeatedly criticized by data protectionists, it can make sense to switch to a more privacy-compliant alternative, such as Matomo or Etracker.
Since the existing tracking via Universal Analytics will only be available until July 1, 2023, there is no way around dealing with Google Analytics 4 or an alternative. In order to be able to collect data in a new system for as long as possible and to familiarize yourself with new measurement values, we recommend dealing with this topic promptly. We are happy to support our customers in the changeover from Google Analytics and the development of a suitable tracking concept.