Google Analytics 3 is being replaced; ensure your website is ready.

March 28th, 2022 by Dave O'Dwyer

update your website for Google Analytics 4

While the writing has been on the wall for some time, Google has finally announced that Universal Analytics (aka UA, Google Analytics 3, GA3) will stop processing data by July 1st 2023.

The free measurement tool used by millions of websites around the world will be replaced by Google Analytics 4 (GA4) – Google’s new version of Google Analytics.  Google Analytics is used by practically every webmaster to analyse the behaviour of visitors to a website.  In order to collect data, a unique Google Analytics code must be installed on every page of a website.

As at July 1st 2023, GA3 will stop processing data, however you will still be able to access your data for another six months.

Contactpoint’s Digital Marketing Team use Google Analytics to analyse user traffic to your website, the channels that bring users there, what pages they view and what actions they take while on your website. We use this data to make decisions to improve the user experience (UX) and assist users to perform the actions the site is designed to attract as well as to report on the success of digital marketing campaigns. Google Analytics works in conjunction with other Google products such as Google Ads to create audiences for remarketing, and to track goal conversions.

The links between Google Ads and GA4 are even stronger and provide for additional capabilities for advertising, such as using AI and machine learning to make “predictive audiences” – audiences that are assessed to be the most likely to perform an action in the near future.

Why Has Google Replaced GA3?

Universal Analytics has been around for many years.  Over that time the Internet has changed considerably.  Google Analytics 3 was designed around the desktop web, independent sessions and more easily observable data from cookies.  Far more users now access the web on many other device types, and privacy (or PII – Personally Identifiable Information) has become more of a focus. Some countries have introduced data privacy laws to ensure user privacy is protected online.

GA3 wasn’t designed for that. GA4 has been designed with privacy at its core via an event-based model (instead of cookie-based) which keeps the ubiquitous tracking tool on the right side of the law.

What new features does GA4 bring?

GA4 brings a plethora of new features, the most important of which are:

  • An (arguably) improved interface.
  • Data protection oriented; it functions with or without cookies.
  • The ability to easily track across domains and platforms for efficient tracking of the entire customer journey.
  • A focus on events and users.
  • More actionable insights and data.
  • Cross platform data access; web and mobile analytics under one roof.
  • Enhanced measurement of time-based actions, with next to real-time data expected to be available.
  • New data driven attribution models.
  • Predictive Audiences powered by AI and machine learning.

The move to event and user focus, and the ability to track across domains and platforms, should lead to more meaningful and accurate data, facilitating analysis of the entire customer journey.  The move away from cookies keeps PII data protected, and should also improve the accuracy of data such as new vs return visitor measures.

Additionally, improvements to machine learning will allow GA4 users to predict audiences, and use these with other Google offerings like Google Ads.

McDonald’s Hong Kong used predictive audiences to make a mobile audience of ‘Likely seven-day purchasers’ and exported it to Google Ads. They saw app orders increase more than six times, a 2.3 times increase in ROI, a 5.6 times increase in revenue and their cost per action was reduced by 63%.


Not bad for a free product, right?

What do I need to do to prepare for this?

The biggest catch for businesses to be aware of is that you cannot carry your UA data over to GA4.

At Contactpoint, we are adding parallel Google Analytics tracking to sites we manage. This means we will have GA3 and GA4 collecting data at the same time, providing up to 15 months of past data when GA3 stops processing new visits. It also gives us time to ensure we have event tracking set up and tested.

If you have any concerns about the transition to Google Analytics 4, or you’d like Contactpoint to transition across your website, please get in touch so that we can assist.

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