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

July 1, 2023 is the sunset date for UA or Universal Analytics.

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.

We encourage you to subscribe to our blog posts to stay informed on what’s coming up for G4 and Google Ads.  Just visit our blog home page and look on the right side bar for subscribe by email to get a copy of our blog posts when they are published.



What to Know About the Future of Web Cookies

sStack of chocolate cookies

The future of the Worldwide Web is cookie-less. Google has announced that the Chrome browser, which has a market share of 66.6% (as of December 2021) will drop third-party cookies in 2023. Most other browsers already allow you to block third-party cookies, but we expect all browsers to follow suit with total blocks of third-party cookies in 2023 or earlier.

So what? You may say, but for the world of online advertising, this change is and a really big deal. How so? By blocking third-party cookies, conversion and reporting data will be less accurate and may even impact how willing businesses are to spend cash on paid advertising.

Here are just a few ways that third-party cookies are used:

Google Analytics uses third-party cookies to track user behavior and return the website traffic stats that we all love to use.  With 55.2% of all websites using Google Analytics this loss of data may impact marketing decisions and lower the accuracy of results reported in Google Analytics.

Google Ads remarketing programs use third-party cookies to serve ads and track activity. The loss of relevant data and the inaccurate recording of conversion activity may lower the realized relevance of Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising programs as businesses struggle to make a case for high ad spend budgets with lower reported results.

Google Ads uses third-party cookies for conversion tracking data in Google Ads. Without strong conversion metrics, some advertisers may search for alternative opportunities to generate website activity and lower their footprint in paid search advertising.

Facebook uses third-party cookies to deliver ads in based on your online activity. With the changes that Apple made in late 2021 to require users to approve cookies set on their device, Facebook advertisers are reporting a drop in conversions and higher conversion costs.

What is Being Done to Help Advertisers with Cookie-Less Reporting Issues?

Google has been very proactive in seeking solutions for third-party cookie retirement, but with minimal industry participation. This past year most mainstream browsers refused to join Google’s initiative called FLoC. This was Google’s program to solve the third-party cookie program, but getting all browsers to work together to create audience groupings. Due to the lack of interest, Google actually abandoned their program and pushed the self-imposed deadline of dropping third-party cookies back one year.

Google has still not announced a clear resolution that is embraced by browsers on how to solve this issue.

For now, we see Google pushing users into the new G4 Analytics by announcing the dropping of UA Universal Analytics later this year.  Google stats that G4 will be able to use cookie-less data and then extrapolate based on trends and machine learning to fill in the gaps in activity. Clearly this is why there is such a push to get websites and advertisers to embrace G4 quickly.

Google is also pushing the use of Customer Match lists in Google Ads. As these lists are first-party data, Google is hedging bets that it will be able to record the conversions and activity from these data sets to boost reporting performance.

At issue for us with Customer Match, is the difficulty for some businesses to map data from their CRM into Google’s data fields. But most of all once the list is loaded, Google sometimes has such a woefully low match to mapping these users to users it knows of that customer match lists becomes meaningless.

For example one of our clients sent us a 10,000 member list to load and Google was able to only map 400 members. You need 1,000 members on the list to use the list in search ads which renders the time and exercise to clean up a customer match list a waste of time.

As this is a difficult problem without a clear path to a resolution, this topic is one you will want to watch this year as Google and Facebook seek cookie alternatives.


Our New Appointment Scheduling App

Connect with us your way for Google Ads Strategy Calls

Our existing clients are seeing a new application this month to use in booking Google Ads strategy calls with our team. We are testing out Microsoft Bookings and would appreciate your feedback.

We send out links to our booking page monthly. You can view the invitation online at this link. 

Our clients will now be able to choose a 15 minute of 30 minute call. In most cases the call will be free but in some cases when you do not purchase more than 4 to 5 hours of time in a month for services, you may see a charge for the extra time for this call on your month end statement.

You will now be able to select to receive text message reminders of your appointment, select your date and time based on your own time zone in the calendar, and will receive a reminder email the day before and then 15 minutes before the call.

You will also be able to easily cancel or reschedule the call.

We will also ask what technology you want to use for the meeting – a simple phone call, Zoom video/screen sharing call, Google Meet video/screen sharing call, or the new Microsoft Teams call with the ability to simply join from a browser without a login or download.

We look forward to your feedback on using our new scheduling app. We are looking for ways to make the experience more user-friendly and better for your personal needs.