If you use Google Analytics, you may have noticed a very strange message on the top bar of your screen that says the following:
Universal Analytics will no longer process new data in standard properties beginning July 1, 2023. Prepare now by setting up and switching over to a Google Analytics 4 property.Google Analytics
If you’re seeing this for the first time, and wondering what it is, here’s a simple explanation. Basically, it means that Google is changing its analytics tool to use a completely new platform. Think of it as a forced upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista, or going from MobileMe to iCloud.
So what does that mean to you? Who cares, right? Here’s the bad news: your Google Analytics accounts are going for be upgraded whether you like them or not, and your historical data is not coming with you.
You may think “Wait, what? This is awful! I didn’t ask for this!” …and I feel your pain. Yes, it is awful, and no, you didn’t ask for this. This is, unfortunately, one of the many examples of Google offering you a free tool (Google Analytics) that you’ve gotten so used to using that you’ve just taken it for granted and you don’t even realize it until Google forces you to make changes or takes away some of its features.
It’s highly likely that Google Analytics is such an integral part of your marketing process and tracking system and you haven’t thought much about what would happen if it went away or changed. But here we are now, and it’s going to. As least at the time of this writing, there’s nothing you can do about it, and there’s no way to bring your data with you automatically. Google is simply forcing you to use the new system whether you like it or not, and taking away your historical data.
There is one caveat, though: you technically can bring over some of your historical data. But you have to manually “map” the old reports to the new system, which looks and sounds confusing, complicated, and time-consuming. If you work in internet marketing, like I do, you may even have dozens of hundreds of Google Analytics accounts that will manually need to be mapped before July 1, 2023. This is going to be a tremendous hassle, an expensive time investment, and a huge waste of time.
Why are is Google doing this? For reasons that actually make some sense, though the way they’re doing it is completely self-serving, and shows an utter lack of care for their customers. But because they can, they will, and there’s likely nothing you can do about it other than contact them and complain. Maybe enough customers will make a big enough noise so that they’ll change it. But if not, it’s time to start paying attention to this, and begin the process of migrating your account from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4.
To be clear: I am not a fan of GA4, and especially not a fan of how Google is strong-arming people to make an upgrade they didn’t ask for (in most cases) and do not want (in my case). But it is what it is.
So, how to do that? Who knows? Google has provided a “make the switch” guide which, at first glance, looks very complicated and I don’t have to stomach to dive into it right now. But I’ll have to at some point. Let’s all see if we can figure this out together, eh?
Ron Stauffer is a web guy and digital marketer with a passion for helping small businesses grow. He has spent over 16 years working in the digital marketing field, building websites, creating marketing strategies, and growing traffic and revenue for small businesses across the USA. His motto is “data wins arguments,” and he uses data visualization tools and charts and graphs to track everything and prove the value of his marketing efforts for clients. Connect with Ron on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter, or visit Lieder Digital online.