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On July 1, 2024, Universal Analytics 360 will shut down. The API will no longer be accessible and all data will be deleted. While Google said everyone should be off UA as of March of this year, some major corporations still haven’t finished their migrations.

We talked to Michael Loban, InfoTrust’s chief growth officer, about why they haven’t and about what to focus on as the clock ticks down. (Interview edited for length and clarity.)

Q: Does it surprise you that there are major companies that haven’t fully migrated to GA4 yet? 

A: No. For one thing, you always want to be very cautious when switching platforms, no matter what the platform is. And so I’ve yet to see a migration — whether it’s a new CRM, a new marketing platform, a new ecommerce platform — that happened on time. And the reason the companies are so cautious and the migrations don’t happen on time is because it’s not just switching one platform, which is challenging enough. It is really the impact on all of your downstream systems. 

Many companies are already fully on GA4 but also on UA 360 and using it as their source of truth. So in those companies, they’re thinking before the switch gets pulled, I want to make sure that everyone who touches this or uses this understands the intricacies of GA4 versus UA 360, is proficient in how reporting gets done and can use it to do their job.

Q: What should a company that has done the migrating, but is facing all these downstream issues be focusing on first? 

A: Probably the first one is exporting the critical historical data from universal analytics. You will not be able to pull UA data because the universal analytics API will just not be working.

Dig deeper: How to archive your Universal Analytics historical data

So what you want to do is pull whatever data you have access to right now and put it in BigQuery. And then if you are still behind in August or September, then at the very least, you have the dataset that you can reference for year-over-year analysis, or to understand why there is a discrepancy between one, versus the other. This is not going to prolong the sunset, but at least it’s going to give you access to the data.

The second one is thinking about what jobs are being done by different members of the teams.

The jobs that are critical, that still rely on universal analytics for day-to-day analytics, let’s make sure that we address those first.

Q: What’s next?

A: Another one is properly setting the right expectations with your executive team. Knowing somebody’s going to be looking at the year-over-year analysis and asking, “Well, why did this change so much?”

Q: People always complain about how executives don’t remember what you tell them. It can be very frustrating, but to be fair, they have a lot of things on their plate.

A: Correct. Whoever is delivering these reports needs to be mindful that while the data and analysis might be my full-time job, it’s probably just 2% of the executive’s job. And so we need to be mindful about how we turn this into what the executive actually cares about. A lot of it really comes down to storytelling and how we explain what is happening versus just reporting year-over-year analysis.

You still can do year-over-year analysis, but know some of the metrics might look different to the executives, and, you might need to put an asterisk around it.

The best way to handle this is before you dive into the report call out that these are the three or four things that are going to look different.

But look, if you do year-over-year analysis it might be off here and there, but your trends are not going to change. Your revenue numbers are not going to change because you’re probably not relying on GA4 to truly report your profit margin or how much you’re making through advertising. You have other platforms for that.

I think people may spend too much time explaining the differences of UA versus GA4 to executives. Explaining the intricacies of what makes session versus event or something like that. It’s just too low level. And when you spend so much time explaining this, there’s no doubt some executive is going to say they don’t understand. So you’re going to try to go into more detail to make it clear and that won’t help.  going to ask, well, I just don’t understand. Focus on the differences that executives need to understand versus the differences that you might care about in your day-to-day job.

Q: What else should people be thinking about at this crucial moment?

A: Migration gives us a great chance to re-examine everything. Is tagging done in the most efficient way? Are we collecting just the data we need? Or, are we collecting information that we, maybe, shouldn’t be collecting? Before we say we need a copy of this report ask, “Well, why do I need this report?” And, with that answer, see if there is actually a better report that can be created. 


The post Time’s running out: Why major corporations haven’t completed GA4 migration appeared first on MarTech.