The UApocalypse is drawing nigh. On July 1st, nine days from now, Google will shut down the standard version of Universal Analytics (UA) — the most widely used marketing analytics tool in internet history. In its place is Google Analytics 4 (GA4), a very different and likely more powerful tool. Everyone’s ready for that, right? Unfortunately, current user stats suggest that the answer is no.
BuiltWith.com’s data shows that only 11 million sites currently use GA4, compared to 28 million using UA. Additionally, only 29.9% of the one million most popular sites are using GA4, compared to 41.9% using UA. Similarly, only 38.3% of the 100,000 most popular sites, and 40.9% of the 10,000 most popular sites, are using GA4.
So, how did we get here? Google acquired Urchin, a widely used traffic analytics program, in 2005 and rebranded it as Google Analytics. In 2007, they released Google Analytics Synchronous Code (ga.js) which gave users the ability to track e-commerce transactions, as well as the Asynchronous Tracking Code (analytics.js) in 2009. This was to help track users across more devices. In 2012, Google launched UA, which provided more in-depth information about user behaviour. Finally, in 2017, Google released Global Site Tag (gtag.js) to fix the problems created by having different tagging protocols for Google Analytics and Google Ads.
So, what are the key differences between GA4 and UA? GA4 measures events, rather than sessions, and uses user ID based on Google Signals and Firebase, rather than cookies. It also has a different page view definition (‘views’, meaning total number of app screens and/or web pages users saw). GA4 also offers complete cross-platform and cross-device reporting, compared to the limited version offered by UA. Finally, GA4’s data is organised into ‘properties’, rather than ‘data streams’.
It is clear that the transition from UA to GA4 is one that needs to be made soon, as the deadline for the switch is looming. With only nine days to go, it is essential that technology-savvy business professionals ensure that they have completed the transition to GA4, briefed stakeholders on the new metrics and triple-checked how GA4 data interacts with their other technologies.
Originally reported by Martech: https://martech.org/days-before-ua-sunset-most-sites-still-not-using-ga4/
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