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Google Universal Analytics shuts down on 1 July 2024

Universal Analytics Sunset Shutdown

Usually, in the marketing world, we love a bit of hype, but with the Universal Analytics shutdown looming, this time, the hype is real.

Google Analytics is phasing out the Universal Analytics platform, with access to the Universal properties to be removed from users on 1 July 2024. Moreover, they will be deleted and not recoverable.

That follows the processing of data timeline that stopped on 1 July 2023, making people adopt Google Analytics 4.

This can be uncomfortable for website owners who have reviewed their website analytics for some time. However, the reason behind the decision is likely Google is facing pressure from the European Union due to General Data Protection & Regulation laws. Unlike GA4, Universal Analytics has a tonne of data that does not comply with the current cookie consent era.

Do I need Universal Analytics data?

If you set up Google Analytics 4 earlier, you may have 24 months of data or 12.

If you have insufficient historical data, you probably want to keep some of your Universal Analytics data to refer back to as you make year-on-year analyses or decisions on your marketing or website efforts.

However, don’t jump too quick to take a zillion screenshots, as not all data is created equal.

What data is worth keeping?

Universal Analytics was primarily based on measuring when a user loaded a page, known as a ‘hit’. Unless you were a tag specialist, the platform was limited in how it could work out whether a user was interacting with your content.

Google Analytics 4, on the other hand, uses an event-based model. That means it does not just know when a user loads a page or screen (now that it includes apps, too), but it also can measure interactions that happen elsewhere, such as when a user scrolls down 90% of your page.

As a result, not many metrics within Universal Analytics are of equal value to the Google Analytics 4 platform. Another challenge is that UA had filters that allowed you to exclude certain data from being collected by setting up different views.

The most relevant historical data that should be collected is:

  • Users
  • Sessions
  • Page views
  • Average time spent on page
  • Demographic: location (gender and age has been turned off already)
  • Device usage
  • Traffic based on Medium (channel) and source
  • Events (if applicable in the older format)
  • Goals and completions
  • Reverse goal report (as not available in GA4)
  • eCommerce conversion rate, revenue, average order value, etc.

The users, sessions and average time spent on page metrics are calculated differently from GA4 but are still useful to act as a comparison for performance over time.

How do I save my Universal Analytics data?

Google recommends taking screenshots of the Universal Analytics reports.

You can also use the export feature on each report. Note that not all parts of the report will be exported.

This historical data must be saved before 1 July 2024, as Google has no plan for an extension and has already advised they will attempt to have the deletion done within a week.

Other methods of exporting include the Google Spreadsheet add-on, which Google explores in this video. There are also advanced query models along with Big Query; however, for most website owners and small businesses, this won’t be relevant as you’ll need to know how to run MYSQL (web development) queries to obtain information from your data.

Anyone choosing the advanced methods must also have their data scheduled for collection before 30 June 2024.

We’ve also prepared a Survival Guide with 25 pages to show you which metrics matter and their differences and give you a breakdown of how best to screenshot or export key reports.

Key differences between Universal and GA4

Universal AnalyticsGoogle Analytics 4
Measurement based on a page load (hit)Measures based on events (interactions)
Browser cookies used to track usersUses browser cookies along with Google Signals (e.g. signed into YouTube across devices) and sampling of unconsented data
Total usersActive users: focuses on those who are considered engaged
Account, Property & View settingsAccount, Property & Data streams (allows for app tracking)
Limited machine learning and automationMachine learning and predictive analytics
Goals & Events & ConversionsEvents & Key Events (Conversions)

How to survive the Universal Analytics sunset shutdown

If you need help, purchase our Survival Guide before 1 July 2024.

After that, you’ll need to rely on anything you have exported or saved, e.g. old reports or look at other data sources such as Meta Business Suite, hosting based cPanel reports or on the content management system or website builder you use.

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