The final Universal Analytics sunset: 3 data transition tips

Marketing Data Analyst

In a nutshell: All your historical data in Universal Analytics is going away in July 2024. These three tips will help you manage the transition and keep the data you need for future reporting.

Last year marked a major change in how we monitor web performance. Like the great Taylor Swift sings, “It was the end of a decade (Universal Analytics), but the start of an age (Google Analytics 4).”

More than a decade after launching, we saw the initial Universal Analytics sunset when the properties stopped collecting data at the end of June 2023. The transition to Google Analytics 4 had its challenges, but here we are thriving in this new world.

But the work isn’t done yet.

While our UA properties ceased gathering new information last July, the historical data collected over the years remained accessible. We could pop over to pull in any missing data from the time before we activated GA4 or pull into annual data for comparisons.

Like most good things, this access too must come to an end.

What is happening to our data after the Universal Analytics sunset?

Long story short, it’s going away for all customers in a few short months.

Yes, that even includes our top hat- and monocle-wearing brethren using Google Analytics 360. Us freebies saw our data stop flowing last summer, but 360 customers are only now approaching the end of their time. While encouraged to switch before, it was business as usual.

Starting in the end of January 2024, Google Analytics 360 accounts will start to experience the slow deprecation of features. This will continue until the end comes for us all.

The last Universal Analytics sunset will begin July 1, 2024, for all users, and will be complete within a week. This means at the end of that week, we will lose all access to our Universal Analytics data, whether it’s through our account or API.

With the final countdown on, what are you doing with your historical data?

Universal Analytics data transition tips

1. Make your plan

To store, or not to store, that is the question. Also how do I store? And where do I store? And do I need to store?

There are 4 basic options for your Universal Analytics historical data: do nothing, export and save, query and store, or export into BigQuery.

For some, saving your data may be necessary. Others may have had their GA4 properties gathering data for long enough that it isn’t necessary.

Few questions are as personal as determining if you need to store your data and, if so, how you will do it. If your self-reflection tells you to walk away and leave it all behind, your plan is made, and we’re done here. I’ll cheer you into the sunset.

Still here? Know what you want to do? Let’s move on to tip 2.

2. Decide what you need

It’s easy to think you want to keep everything. I’m a marketing data analyst, I get it, but it isn’t necessary for any of us.

A good place to start is looking at your current reporting to see which metrics you rely on to measure performance. With so much available, nailing down what matters is key.

Beyond which reports, you must decide how far back to go. In most cases, a year or two is likely sufficient, but if you regularly look further back, you may want more years.

3. Give yourself time

If you’re in a cold state like me, summer may seem years away, presenting the illusion of time. Instead of leaning on the months before the cut off, you should start the process now.

Whether you’re storing locally or on the cloud, or importing into a service like BigQuery, you want time to get your systems in place and to ensure everything is set up properly.

This way, if something goes wrong, you have time before the end arrives.

This summer will truly mark the end of an important era for website analytics, so long live all the magic (data) we made (measured).

Unsure of how to proceed?

Whether it’s assistance with saving and storing your data, or just asking us our opinion about making your plan, we can help.

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Marketing Data Analyst
Growing up, Chelsea dreamed of two things: going to Hogwarts and combining her passion for numbers and creativity. Fortunately, one of these careers exists in the real world and she’s spent the last decade honing her digital marketing skills. She brings passion into every project and works to find the story in the data. In fact, don’t get her started on SEO, email marketing, or analytics, because she may never stop talking. When she’s not dreaming of numbers, she enjoys baking, reading, and obsessing over her pug, Penny.

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