Don’t Panic! Google Analytics 3 is Dead
Google really love to shake things up, and if Google Chrome’s deprecation of third-party cookies wasn’t enough, they’ve now announced they’re killing off Google Analytics v3.
To be fair, Google Analytics v4 (or “GA4”) was announced in 2019, but has largely been seen as “in progress”, “beta”, and “not ready for prime time”. Regardless, Google clearly disagrees and they’ve opted to combat low adoption and usage rates with a fairly aggressive stance. I’m sure there are other factors at play here, such as user privacy, move away from third-party cookies, future-proofing, and whatnot. But this doesn’t make the decision to kill GA3 any more paletable for many website owners.
The significance of the announcement though, stems from the fact that Google currently plans to end access to GA3, including the data contained within. Whilst GA3 and GA4 had previously been able to coexist, GA3 will now cease to operate in July 2023, and only GA4 will work moving forwards. Any data collected in GA3 will not be accessible 6 months following the July cut-off date. Wow.
This is still fresh news, and a moving beast. I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this, and there’s a lot of debate on social media around it (disproportionately to the negative). However, based on Google’s current stance, the steps are clear and simple:
- Don’t panic – it’s going to be okay!
- Setup a GA4 property if you haven’t already
- Ensure goal conversions, events, ecommerce tracking, filters, and any other configurations are ported over to GA4 – Google have a useful article on migrating
- Once you do the above, GA4 is at least collecting data, which gives you time to get to grips with the new interface – have a play around, read/watch some of Google’s training videos and content, and away you go
- Think about how best to migrate the key data you want from GA3 into a format you can use in future – you won’t be able to access in GA3 after a certain point, so storing the key bits in BigQuety, a database, Excel document, or Sheets will be very useful
Ultimately, the difference in metrics and data collection will mean that many website owners and marketers will have to change their reporting and processes. But if there’s one thing digital marketers are used to, it’s change. Analytics isn’t dying, it’s evolving, and this is another move that places more importance on skilled marketers.