Changes are coming to Google Analytics: Here’s how they’ll impact your ecommerce business

By Ian Nadeau on March 9, 2023

You’ve been warned. Google announced that they are sunsetting Universal Analytics (UA) on July 1, 2023. Web properties still running UA after this date will no longer see hits — forcing businesses to update their analytics solution to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Further, historical data in legacy UA accounts will be wiped shortly after the July 1 deadline. 

“This is just more significant because it requires all users to switch to a new platform, and because that new platform tracks and captures data in a different way from the old platform, data cannot be merged between the two, and GA4 will only have historical data back to the day after you set it up.”

Lauren Carel, SEO manager for Conductor

What are the differences between UA and GA4? How will those differences affect your business? Let’s discuss. 

Out with the old

Introduced in 2012, Universal Analytics was an answer to the need of measuring online activity across independent sessions through the improvement of tracking codes. With UA came User IDs for omnichannel identification, SDKs for mobile tracking, offline data from outside sources, and more advanced configuration and customization options. Effective at both collecting and organizing data, UA set the standard for analytics solutions. 

So why is Google moving on from it?  

The insights gathered by UA are fueled by desktop traffic and third-party cookies — both of which are going the way of the dinosaurs. Leading browsers like Firefox, Brave, and Safari already block cookies, and Chrome plans on following suit by 2024. Meanwhile, mobile traffic accounts for more than half of global web visits. Universal Analytics also doesn’t conform to a privacy-first world by storing IP addresses and other personally identifiable information (PII). 

In with the new

GA4 was unveiled almost three years ago and is designed to address consumer concerns over data and privacy. The solution doesn’t rely on third-party cookies to collect the data needed to continue to deliver tailored experiences. It also helps businesses meet the privacy demands of their online visitors by enabling advanced controls into how their data is collected and utilized. In a case of addition by subtraction, GA4 sheds the reliance on near-extinct data collection methods and replaces them with a more unified approach to understanding the customer using machine learning technology to reveal and predict insights across channels — upgrading outdated decisioning with AI-driven actions. 

How does GA4 impact your business? 

Reliable customer lifecycle data

Google Analytics 4 moves away from independent sessions and towards event-based measurements. This allows companies to better understand consumer touchpoints and see the efficacy of their website or app. 

Greater revenue attribution

It’s now possible to attribute revenue to more than the last click thanks to GA4’s data-driven models. Using analytics, GA4 helps teams see how collective marketing efforts positively impact key performance metrics. 

Enhanced omnichannel compatibility

GA4 removes the silos from user data by allowing analytics from various platforms to fuse together and create a single source of truth.

While Google Analytics 4 is a step in the right direction for today’s privacy-first world, marketers still need ways to combat rising customer acquisition costs and a growing lack of brand loyalty. According to Epsilon, 83% of advertisers believe the end of third-party cookies and Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) will moderately or significantly affect their marketing efforts. This group knows about GA4, yet they aren’t entirely sold on the solution. 

Solving for a privacy-first world

If Google Analytics 4 isn’t a complete solution for a cookieless world, what is? More than 90% of website traffic is typically anonymous, and that number is only going to grow as more and more visitors become aware of how they can protect their privacy. What if marketers didn’t need the information now being blocked by consumers in order to be effective? 

Picture this: 

A visitor stopped by a company’s site to browse the latest additions to their inventory. Today, that same consumer is looking to purchase. How would a business know that without PII alerting them to past engagements? Session AI uses proprietary AI technology to score a customer’s intent within five clicks and tailor their experience accordingly — all in milliseconds. 

Session AI doesn’t rely on third-party cookies, PII, or User IDs to surface in-session actions. This makes the system futureproof because what your users have done takes a backseat to what they’re doing as event-based intelligence drives momentary decisioning. 

Sessions are the end-to-end activity of a user on a website or app. Events are action items that occur within those sessions that help marketers understand the customer journey. What are people clicking on? Are carts being abandoned? What is the path to purchase? This is the data that empowers Session AI to understand consumer intent and guide effective in-session marketing efforts.  

While many organizations are urgently making the switch to Google Analytics 4, Session AI prepares you for whatever’s next. Learn more about our solution and how it unlocks greater revenue opportunities, improves purchase conversion rates, and more.

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