The Switch to GA4 - Now is the Time

By Leah Hooks
June 16, 2023

Whether or not you work closely with your company’s website analytics, you have likely heard the term “GA4” by now. GA4 refers to Google Analytics 4, the upgrade for Google’s Universal Analytics (UA). GA4 has been available for a while now but is officially replacing UA at the end of this month as Google’s sole free website analytics platform. Here’s what you need to know:

  • UA will stop collecting new data at the end of the day on June 30. This means that you need to have GA4 set up on your website prior to that date or you will experience a gap in your website’s analytics. Setting up GA4 prior to the end of the month will not stop the collection of UA data early.
  • Historical data in UA will go away. Google has announced that previously processed data in your existing UA property will be available to access for at least six months and it is recommended that you download and save any data you wish to be able to access in the future as early as possible. This means that any UA data you do not download will not be accessible for you to compare any new GA4 data to moving forward. Migrating data from UA to GA4 is not possible as the data is collected using different parameters.
  • Comparing data between GA4 and UA will not be one-to-one.
    • For example, bounce rate is a thing of the past. Instead, GA4 works to combine statistics around users quickly leaving a page (previously known as bounce rate) and average time spent on a page into one, more relevant data point: Average Engagement Time. Average engagement time is a metric that will demonstrate the average amount of time users had your webpage in focus and were engaged with your content. Average engagement time will be much lower than UA’s average time on page. This does not mean users are spending less time engaging with your content. In fact, they may actually be engaged with your content for a longer amount of time.
    • Another change to be aware of is the way GA4 tracks the number of users visiting your site. GA4 measures a single user’s journey with your brand across devices based on the best available user identifiers. This will de-duplicate users and tell a more unified, holistic story about their relationships with your business. This does, however, mean that the number of users visiting your site will appear to be fewer than it appeared in UA, as UA tracked a single user visiting your site on two devices, such as mobile and desktop, as two separate users.

Ready to start collecting website analytics in GA4? Whether you’re making the switch from UA to GA4 or starting from scratch with Google Analytics, Inspire is here to help! Reach out to your website team or to Inspire for assistance.