03-16-2022

Google announces sunset dates for Universal Analytics — here’s what you can do now

Portrait Dorian Kind

Dorian Kind

Director Data & Technologies

Google Analytics 4 has been designated the successor to Universal Analytics already some time ago. Since today, it’s also clear at what point in time Universal Analytics stops working, giving customers a definite deadline by when to perform their migration: June respectively September next year. In this blog post, we present to you our most important take-aways from Google’s announcement and give you recommendations for action.

Today, Google officially announced that Universal Analytics will be retired by the end of June 2023. What does this mean exactly?

  • For Standard Universal Analytics customers: no more data will be collected after June 30, 2023. Only Google Analytics 4 properties will be supported.
  • For Universal Analytics 360 customers: no more data will be collected after September 30, 2023. Only Google Analytics 4 360 properties will be supported.

What is the impact of the Universal Analytics fade-out?

  • After Universal Analytics stops processing data, the data sets will become read-only. Users however can still access Universal Analytics properties for historical data analysis.
  • Google Analytics 4 360 contracts are available for all customers as of today. Contact us with any questions or for a pricing offer.
  • New Universal Analytics 360 contracts can still be signed in 2022 (or existing Universal Analytics 360 contracts renewed), but their duration will be capped to end of September 2023.
  • Once a Google Analytics 4 360 contract is signed, it supersedes the previous Universal Analytics contract. Existing Universal Analytics 360 properties will be downgraded to standard ones six months after the new contract comes into effect.

An ambitious timeline to fully move towards Google Analytics 4

Google’s plans for their analytics suite always stated that the completely new Google Analytics 4 was going to be the way forward, rather than a further development of their Universal Analytics product. As the former has evolved from an app-centric measurement system called Firebase Analytics, it has a fundamentally different data model that’s less tailored — but also less constrained — to the needs of website analytics.

Consequently, there is no backwards compatibility or fully automatic migration available to make the move from Universal Analytics towards Google Analytics 4. Google has recommended the use of “dual tagging” for a while now, meaning to measure website traffic using both systems at the same time. This helps to get acquainted with the new system and spot any discrepancies in the data collected. It’s also noteworthy that quite a number of essential features on the roadmap, such as item-scoped custom dimensions important for e-commerce customers or Campaign Manager 360 integration, have yet to be implemented in Google Analytics 4. Some industry observers thus expected that Universal Analytics would stay available for quite some time until its successor has proven itself as a battle-tested, enterprise-ready analytics solution.

With the announcement of Universal Analytics’ sunset dates already next year, however, Google has now doubled down on their plans and set a hard deadline in place for organizations which employ Google Analytics. Whether or not the shutdown will actually be executed as planned in approximately 15 months is yet to be seen — nevertheless, this must be taken seriously. Very large enterprises which use Google Analytics with hundreds or thousands of different properties are likely not going to be pleased with the aggressive timeline — but it would be shortsighted to count on an extension of the cut-off date as the risk of no longer having a working web analytics setup in place is substantial.

Start collecting data with Google Analytics 4 now!

We recommend all Universal Analytics customers to start collecting data with Google Analytics 4 properties as soon as possible. This means starting or finalizing your dual setup which is essential to enable your team to test the new data model and features of Google Analytics 4 in order to establish the new Analytics version as the new single source of truth of the future.

As Google has made clear on their Google Analytics 4 roadmap that they are not not aiming for feature parity, but rather use case parity, significant adjustments of the tracking setup might be required in some cases — thus it’s crucial to plan for enough time to design and implement all required changes.

If you have questions about your organization’s migration to Google Analytics 4 or want to use the occasion for a fundamental assessment of your analytics requirements and capabilities, our digital analytics and marketing technology teams are here to help. Throughout the past 18 months, they have supported many clients migrating and thus developed a wide range of knowledge as well as best practices that they can pass on to you.

Would you like to discuss your analytics set-up with us in detail?