Columbia Sites Switches to Google Analytics 4

Columbia Sites will switch from the Google Universal Analytics platform to Google Analytics 4 in November 2022.

July 21, 2022

Universal Analytics Is Being Replaced

For the last ten years, Google Analytics has been using the Universal Analytics protocol. If you have viewed your analytics data, you have been looking at reports in the Universal Analytics platform. This past spring, Google announced that “On July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will no longer process data. You’ll be able to see your Universal Analytics reports for a period of time after July 1, 2023. However, new data will only flow into your Google Analytics 4 properties.”

All Columbia Sites have Google Analytics accounts on the Universal Analytics platform. After July 1, 2023, these accounts will no longer process new hits, meaning that as of July 2, 2023 no new data will flow into your UA account. Google will retain your historical data in your UA property for six months, after which your historical data will be deleted permanently.


Google will retain your historical data in your Universal Analytics account for six months, after which your historical data will be deleted permanently.



Google has not finalized the timeline for when it will begin deleting historical data, but we will inform you as we learn more.

Why Is Google Changing the Analytics Platform? 

Universal Analytics, built for stand-alone websites and the desktop experience, is obsolete. Privacy concerns and the need to have analytics that track the entire user experience, across multiple platforms and domains, have long been downsides of Universal Analytics. Google Analytics 4, however, addresses privacy concerns and allows both granular and big picture views of website data.

Google Analytics 4 does not rely on cookies; nor does it store IP address information. Instead, it uses an event-based data model for measurement, which is better for companies that want to track across platforms and domains. This also produces more valuable information and insight into user behavior and preferences. The most conspicuous improvement for Columbia Sites customers will be the ability to analyze event-based behavior such as button clicks, video plays, file downloads, and page scrolling.

What Happens Next

What Columbia Sites Is Doing

  1. Updating each website from a Universal Analytics account to a Google Analytics 4 account.
     
  2. Upgrading the Google Analytics module on your website to accommodate Google Analytics 4 IDs, which follow a different structure than previous Universal Analytics IDs.
     
  3. Updating Universal Analytics IDs to Google Analytics 4 IDs.

What You Should Do

  1. Export and backup your historical data. Since Universal Analytics properties will be permanently deleted in the future (roughly six months after July 1, 2023), you should export your historical data and back it up. You will be able to import this data into Google Analytics 4 once your new account is ready. If you store the data in Google Sheets, then connect it to Google Data Studio, you can visualize and analyze it in the meantime.
     
  2. Familiarize yourself with Google Analytics 4. Check out the Google Analytics 4 demo account to experiment with the platform and explore its features and reporting.

Getting Help

In the coming months, we'll keep you posted about the switch to Google Analytics 4. We also may hold workshops on exporting and importing your historical data if there is sufficient interest. If you don't have time to attend, be sure to watch the videos in the sidebar that explain how to get started in the new platform.