Google has announced that as of 1 July 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will no longer process data.
All new data will flow into Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
And those data will be different in some very important ways:
- In the interest of user privacy, GA4 will not collect or store users' IP addresses.
- GA4 is much less dependent on cookies.
- Because GA4 operates across platforms, it can track user journeys across websites and apps and produce user-centric metrics.
- Unlike Universal Analytics which is session-based, GA4 is event-based, tracking events like link clicks and video plays.
- GA4 applies machine learning to data gathered, to generate insights and predict outcomes.
- GA4 is being integrated with multiple Google products including Google Ads, YouTube, Firebase, AdMob and others.
- Tracking prospects through the marketing funnel to conversion will be more difficult and costly.
- Creating awareness and consideration may become more important in advertising and require more investment for less immediate return.
To limit the volume of historical data you'll have to move from Universal Analytics to GA4 in 2023, it's a good idea to start using GA4 now.
But there could be a steep learning curve - and a lot of people are finding GA4 user-unfriendly - so if I believe the prudent course would be to run both Universal Analytics and GA4 at least until you have good confidence in GA4.