Prepare Now for Google’s Universal Analytics Data Sunset
For over a decade, businesses relied on Google’s Universal Analytics to track user behavior, analyze website performance, and make data-driven decisions about their business. The days of UA are gone and many marketers have transitioned to Google’s new Analytics offering, GA4. However, adoption of GA4 was slow and cumbersome for some brands as they had to adapt their strategies and learn a new tool, all while Google continued to make platform updates and launch new features. The result: many brands and marketers have limited year over year data in GA4. Google’s announcement that it will remove Universal Analytics data after July 1, 2024, has left many concerned about the preservation of their valuable data. To ensure that you don’t lose access to your UA data, it’s essential to explore alternative means for storing your Universal Analytics data before the sunset date. Here are a few key options:
1. Export Data to BigQuery
Google’s BigQuery is a powerful cloud-based data warehousing and analytics platform. You can export your Universal Analytics data to BigQuery to preserve historical records. This will make your UA data available to you even after it has been removed from Google Analytics. With BigQuery, you can query and analyze your data using SQL and integrate it with other datasets for in-depth analysis. There are four main ways to retain your UA data and get it into BigQuery:
- Export individual reports into the following formats: CSV, TSV, TSV for Excel, Excel (XLSX), Google Sheets, or PDF
- Use the Google Analytics Reporting API and a data pipeline provider to export data to Cloud storage and connect to Looker Studio
- Install the Google Sheets add-on for Analytics and follow Googles instructions to archive your data
- Google Analytics 360 customers can also export to BigQuery
This approach – exporting data to BigQuery – provides flexibility and scalability for managing your analytics data.
2. Data Backup and Archiving
Consider creating regular backups of your Universal Analytics data and archiving it securely. You can automate this process using tools like Google Cloud Storage or Amazon S3, which allow you to store data in a cost-effective and scalable manner. Ensure that your backup strategy complies with data retention and privacy regulations applicable to your industry.
3. Third-Party Analytics Solutions
Marketers who do not use Google’s Looker Studio and BigQuery products may want to consider third-party analytics solutions that offer data export and storage capabilities. Many analytics platforms provide data import features that allow you to save your Universal Analytics data for historical reference. This option allows marketers to access their historical UA data in a format familiar to how you would have used the Google Analytics UA dashboard in the past. Evaluate these options to find a solution that aligns with your data storage needs and requirements, and the associated costs.
Whichever method you choose, keep in mind that many analytics questions that come up in the future will likely be answered by using your most recent data in GA4, so don’t worry about grabbing the most detailed versions of your data. You should instead focus on the higher-level metrics that show trends. This is likely to be the most useful data that allows you to retain some value without paying too much in data costs for data that’s not being used or accessed.
The upcoming removal of Google Universal Analytics data will be a challenge for marketers, but with careful planning, you can preserve your data for future analysis and reference. Whether you choose to export data to a data warehouse like BigQuery, use third-party solutions, or opt for a combination of these methods, it’s essential to start planning now and take action before the July 1, 2024 deadline to safeguard your valuable data. Developing a clear data retention policy and ensuring data quality will further enhance the effectiveness of your Universal Analytics data storage strategy, enabling you to continue making informed decisions and optimizing your online presence.