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Google Shuts Down UA: Everything You Need to Know

On 1 July 2024, Google officially shut down Universal Analytics, its legacy web analytics platform. This marked the final shift in the transition to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This transition has been a long time coming—two years to be exact. During this time, Google has issued a series of updates and announcements, advising marketers to migrate to GA4 in order to avoid losing data.

But why has GA4 replaced UA? How does it impact your website? And how can you save your historical data if you haven’t already? Here’s everything you need to know about the transition from UA to GA4.

What is Universal Analytics (UA)?

Universal Analytics (UA) is Google’s previous generation of Google Analytics, which was first announced in 2012. It became the standard for collecting, organising and analysing website data until October 2020, when the latest model, GA4, was released.

What is Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is Google’s current analytics platform. This enhanced model was designed to provide a more granular understanding of user behaviour. It offers cross-platform tracking, allowing for seamless user journey analysis across websites and apps.

What’s the Difference Between GA4 and UA?

While GA4 and UA are related, there are some significant differences between the two. The biggest differences include their data collection models, cross-platform tracking and machine learning capabilities, as well as reporting and integration.

Data Collection Models

UA and GA4 are powered by different data models. The predecessor, UA, was a session-based data model. It collected data on various types of hits, including pageviews, events, bounce rate, transactions and social interactions. This data was organised by sessions, collections of interactions (hits) within a given time frame.

The current platform, GA4, is a user-centric, event-based model. It works by tracking individual users and their interactions instead of monitoring sessions. While UA allowed users to manually set up events, GA4 tracks events automatically. This supplies a more detailed data set that encompasses every stage of the user’s journey.

Cross-Platform Tracking

UA provided limited cross-platform tracking. Like events, tracking users across web and mobile required additional setup and integration. In contrast, GA4 offers cross-platform tracking from the ground up. This is because GA4 takes a more holistic approach, tracking users across different devices, platforms and sessions to compile data into unified properties.

Machine Learning

As you would expect, GA4 features more advanced machine learning. It’s capable of supplying a range of automated insights, anomaly detection and predictive metrics. These predictive metrics process user data to forecast future behaviours, generating predictions that encompass revenue, purchase probability and churn probability. 


UA featured pre-defined reports that could be customised and filtered by views. In contrast, GA reports are powered by highly customisable data streams. These data streams produce an endless data loop. They work by collecting information from your touchpoint(s) (e.g. your website or app) and feeding it back to your Analytics. 


These two platforms also deliver very different integration experiences. GA4 seamlessly integrates with Google products including Google Ads, BigQuery and Google Marketing Platform. UA offered fewer integrations and many of these required additional configuration. 

Why Has GA4 Replaced UA?

According to Google, GA4 ‘was designed to be able to evolve for the future and built with privacy at its core.’ It was created to provide customisable data and future-proof analytics, ensuring the platform remains effective as the world of search continues to evolve. 

Google called this migration ‘necessary in part due to a constantly changing technology and regulatory ecosystem.’ It described the transition as a necessary move in order to meet ‘technological and regulatory demands.’ 

The switch from UA to GA4 marks a fundamental change for the world of digital marketing. It offers a more unified analytics experience, improved data accuracy and enhanced privacy controls. By leveraging machine learning, it enables marketers to gain a comprehensive understanding of user behaviour and make more informed, data-led decisions.

GA4 vs UA: Differences and Controversies

However, this migration hasn’t been without its controversies and concerns. For example, while GA4 allows for enhanced data collection, it also collects and processes this data in a very different way. This means many of the traditional metrics have either been redefined or simply no longer exist.

Take bounce rate. In UA, the bounce rate was determined by the percentage of users who visited and exited your site within a single session. In GA4, the bounce rate is the inverse of the engagement rate. This means any session that does not qualify as an ‘engaged session’ is included within the bounce rate data. For context, Google defines an engaged session as ‘a session that lasts longer than 10 seconds, has a key events, or has at least 2 pageviews or screenviews.’

The Migration Timeline

The migration from UA to GA4 was managed over a two-year roll-out. Google shared several announcements throughout this process and advised its users to begin migrating.

Here’s a quick overview of the GA4 migration timeline:

  • 14 October 2020: Google launched GA4
  • 16 March 2022: Google announced that it would sunset UA by October 2023
  • 27 October 2022: The UA sunset date was pushed back to 1 July 2024
  • March 2023: Google created GA4 properties for users that failed to migrate and had not opted out of automatic creation
  • 1 July 2023: Standard UA properties stopped processing hits but marketers retained access to their data
  • 29 January 2024: Several UA features were deprecated including real-time reports for advertising
  • March 2024: Google announced that Universal Analytics 360 users should switch to GA4 by the end of the month
  • 1 July 2024: GA4 officially replaced UA and began removing access to historical data

How To Save Your UA Historical Data

The final shutdown commenced on 1 July 2024. However, this process won’t be completed overnight. This means there may still be time to save your historical data – but you must act fast. Once this process is complete, you will no longer be able to access any of your UA properties and all of your data will be deleted.

The easiest way to save your historical data is by downloading it manually. To do this, head to ‘Admin’ > ‘View > ‘Reports’. From here, you can select the reports you wish to export. When you’ve located your data, simply click ‘Export’ and choose your desired format: CSV, Excel or Google Sheets.

Setting Up GA4 with Another Concept

With UA officially retired, now is the time to master GA4. This is essential to ensure you’re able to access vital data, create effective strategies and evolve your digital marketing game.

Do you have concerns about the impact of this transition? Feeling unsure about how to navigate these changes? Or need some expert advice about GA4? Then speak to our team today. 

Here at Another Concept, our experts offer in-depth GA4 training, guidance and advice. We can show you how to set up your account, customise your reports and harness the data you need to help your website soar.

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  • Marcus Hearn

    Marcus has spent his career growing the organic search visibility of both large organisations and SMEs. He specialises in technical SEO but he’s obsessed with curating strategies that leverage expertise and unlock potential.

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