Google Universal Analytics Depreciation – What does this mean?

By Gary Moore on May 20, 2022

For those who may have missed it, Google has recently announced the pending depreciation of Universal Analytics (UA). All standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits on 1st July 2023. While that’s still over a year away, if you’re responsible for reporting on digital marketing performance using Google Analytics, now’s the time to take action. Here’s why…

The deprecation of Universal Analytics will be as follows:

• 1st July 2023 for Standard UA properties
• 1st October 2023 for GA360 clients – those working with a GMP sales partner

All historic data will be accessible for six months from the respective deprecation date. After those six months, historic data will no longer be accessible. If you’re already using UA, it’s important to make note of these dates so you can ensure you have sufficient time to plan a parallel tracking implementation with Google Analytics 4 (GA4).

But we’re still in 2022, so we have time, right?

Unfortunately, this date leaves us all with less time than we may think. Benchmarking performance requires year on year comparison data, so as a result, you would need to migrate from UA to GA4 by 1st July 2022 to ensure you can still compare data.

While there are ways to capture historic UA data through BigQuery exports (GA360 only), manual CSV exports or through tools that leverage the Google Analytics reporting API, there are several metrics in GA4 that replace metrics from UA. Even those that do appear to match aren’t necessarily comparable. This is due to differences in the way the metrics are calculated between the two analytics tracking platforms.

Most importantly, GA4 is built completely from the ground up for modern internet connected devices (Websites, Apps, P.O.S etc.). It uses an event driven data model, whereas UA uses a session-based data model. This means that there are no similarities between UA and GA4 that would allow you to be able to stitch the data together in a meaningful, accurate, consistent, or reliable way. So, a GA4 implementation prior to 1st July 2022 is critical.

What do I need to do?

• If you use UA, check to see if you already have GA4 or a plan for implementing GA4
• If you do have a GA4 implementation plan, firstly check that it tracks comparable event interactions and meta data compared to universal analytics
• Check that your main KPIs have been reconciled against your back-end data for accuracy

Still unsure? Drop us a note at data@imahome.global. We’ll work through your questions and help you to decide on the best approach.