Privacy Changes Drive Google to Sunset Universal Analytics in Favor of G4

Google has announced that it will sunset the popular web traffic analytics tool called Universal Analytics in favor of G4 Analytics on July 1, 2023.

Why is Google making this change?

With the changing needs for privacy, Google has decided that it is time for everyone to get onboard and embrace G4 Analytics. Read about the differences between the two.

G4 has been out for two years, but many, myself included, consider the dashboard difficult to set up and use. This has slowed webmasters and marketing managers from embracing the new cookieless technology of G4.

Additionally, Google announced that the data from Universal Analytics (UA) will not flow into G4. So, webmasters should plan on adding code now for G4 to start gathering data before the UA sunset date. Some webmasters and site owners may want to do a download of UA data before the sunset of the application.

It’s all about the third party cookies

All of these changes are about the use of third party cookies for tracking. Google Ads uses audiences and cookies from UA when merged with Google Ads to create tracking for advanced audiences. Specifically the explanation below puts this issue in easy to understand terms.

“…the change reflects an evolution on how analytics is associated with websites and the changing role analytics plays in privacy. Universal Analytics represented the pinnacles of page-loaded measurement, introducing cross platform tracking and more flexible code options for producing custom dimensions and metrics. However, it still relied on cookies, the text files in browsers, to transmit data behind the dimensions and metrics. ” Read more.

By moving beyond cookies with G4, Google is building for the future, but may also be self-serving to benefit remarketing and conversion technology alternatives to protect Google Ads. The loss of third party cookies is a huge issue for Google Ads conversion tracking and for the serving of remarketing ads for advertisers.

For now, Google and McCord Web Services is recommending running UA Analytics and G4 on the same website. Allowing the two to run will build a number of months worth of data before UA Analytics is sunset.

The problem with G4 is it is more than an update it is a new protocol

If you have logged into a G4 account you most likely are stunned at the lack of any data. G4 runs on custom events, there are really very few built out features at this time which makes it hard for webmasters to embrace G4 as a functional alternative to UA Analytics.

Although the ability to customize events may be a boon for some, for most G4 cannot be considered a plug and play application. We are hopeful that as the sunset date gets closer Google will listen to the feedback about needing to make G4 more user friendly and offer more information on how to set up events that make sense to replace the information lost when compared to UA.

Our recommendation is to start now with G4 code implementation so data can start accruing for at least one year. And to start learning now to create events for the important statistics you like in Universal Analytics in G4.

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