I don’t often procrastinate, but even as I am writing this article on Google Analytics 4, my Project Manager is telling me it is overdue for publishing. Why is it late? Like every other user of Google Analytics in the world, we are getting used to the new reality of Google Analytics 4 taking over from our beloved Universal Analytics. And some things still need to be done.
I’d love to tell you this was something that was sprung on us at the last minute, but Google gave us a heads-up in 2020. Google has a pretty predictable track record of:
- Announcing a big change in how they are doing things
- Watching digital marketers scurry around and freak out on Twitter
- Then abandoning the change or downplaying it
This has happened with several algorithm updates – guest blog links penalties and Core Web Vitals to just name a few. So who would blame me if I really didn’t believe that Universal Analytics would stop collecting data on July 1st, 2023?
Well, it seems like this one is for real, or so the giant countdown clock on the Universal Analytics page would have me believe.
We prepared our client properties for this long ago – I lost track but we have over 200 Analytics properties. For each of the active properties, instead of finding reports in the usual places (going to miss you, UA), all of our reports needed to be re-created and customized. All of our integrations needed to be updated.
While those of us in digital marketing can never have the time back that was spent creating the same reporting we already had, I feel like the real challenge is going to be for the more casual users. I’m talking about the business owners and traditional marketers who invested time in just understanding what Universal Analytics gave them and where to find it.
Business owners need data to make decisions, and my hope is that they will invest the time to learn and get on board with Google Analytics 4. Besides the fact that there aren’t many really good practical alternatives for first-party data, Google Analytics really was – and still is – the best free product in business marketing.
Confession: sometimes, even at this late date, Universal Analytics is still my go-to for quick information.
So I hope that the other procrastinators out there can learn and adapt. Let’s work through our feelings together (there are definitely still people freaking out about it on Twitter).
And for the other digital marketers out there, let’s take our vacations now before they announce Google Analytics 5.