1 May 2023

Preparing Your Organization for the Sunset of Universal Analytics: The Essential Shift to Google Analytics 4


The digital landscape is rapidly evolving, and so are the tools we use to navigate it. Google Analytics, a cornerstone for associations worldwide to gauge website performance and user engagement, is undergoing a seismic shift. The longstanding Universal Analytics is being gradually phased out, making room for the future-focused Google Analytics 4 (GA4). If your association has been using Universal Analytics, it’s time to prepare for the transition.

The Retirement of Universal Analytics:

Google announced the gradual sunsetting of Universal Analytics to fully usher in GA4. While no definitive end date has been given as of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, it’s clear that the future lies with GA4. Google has stopped providing support for creating new properties in Universal Analytics, marking a definite shift in focus. This change necessitates associations to adapt to the new landscape or risk being left behind with outdated data analytics.

The Advantages of Google Analytics 4:

The shift to GA4 is not just about keeping up with Google’s changes. It’s about tapping into a more potent and forward-looking data analytics tool. GA4 is designed to navigate a future that is increasingly mobile, user-centric, and privacy-conscious.

  1. Event-Driven Model: GA4 tracks user interactions, or ‘events,’ at a granular level. This approach offers a more holistic and nuanced understanding of the user journey, empowering associations to create more engaging content and user experiences.
  2. Cross-Platform Tracking: GA4’s ability to unify data from both your website and mobile app into one report allows for a seamless analysis of user behavior across platforms.
  3. Machine Learning Insights: GA4 leans heavily into machine learning to offer predictive metrics, giving associations foresight into user behavior and trends.
  4. Future-Proofing: Designed to function with or without cookies, GA4 is prepared for an internet landscape that might soon lack these third-party data providers.

How to Transition from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4:

  1. Dual Setup: Start by setting up GA4 in parallel with Universal Analytics. This allows you to collect data in GA4 while maintaining your Universal Analytics data. Over time, you can compare data from both and understand the new insights that GA4 provides.
  2. Configure GA4: GA4 is event-based and requires more initial setup than Universal Analytics. You’ll need to define the events you want to track based on your association’s unique needs.
  3. Train Your Team: There’s a learning curve when transitioning from Universal Analytics to GA4. It’s important to provide your team with training and resources to understand the new platform and how to leverage its features.
  4. Gradual Shift: After you’ve become comfortable with GA4, you can start using it as your primary analytics tool while keeping Universal Analytics as a reference point.


The retirement of Universal Analytics might seem daunting, but it’s an opportunity to leverage more powerful analytics with GA4. It’s crucial for associations to proactively transition to GA4, not only to stay in line with Google’s changes but to take advantage of the richer, more user-centric insights it provides. The time to embrace the future of analytics is now, and the transition, though it may take time and effort, promises a valuable payoff.

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