Goodbye Universal Analytics, Hello Google Analytics 4
Universal Analytics (UA) is dead, and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has officially taken its place. This change has been discussed for a long time now, but it has finally happened. As of July 1st, most dealerships' UA accounts no longer collect data. While there are a few outliers (large groups with Analytics 360, for example) who will continue seeing data collection for a few more months, it's time to say "goodbye" to UA and "hello" to GA4.
Hopefully, you've already set up a GA4 account, allowing you to have some historical data going into the transition. If you're not sure, ask your vendors. One or more of your vendors may have set one up, so you'll need to confirm which you'll be using moving forward, secure ownership of that GA4 account, and require your vendors to use it. Once that's done, you can start looking around in the tool.
UA vs GA4
As with any change in life, there will be a learning curve when it comes to switching from UA to GA4. Some things will remain the same, such as events, new users, or the way you can slice up data. But the platform will look and function a bit differently than its predecessor and some terminology has changed. One of the most talked about differences between the two Google Analytics versions is the change from "goals" to "conversions." In UA, goals could be created based on events (signals that something happened on your website, such as filling out a contact form). In GA4, this event and trigger process will remain the same, but "goals" will now be called "conversions."
The appropriate technology vendor should manage the events aspect of this. You are responsible for setting up the conversions and toggling the ones you want to see in your dashboard. In other words, choose which data is important to you and add the conversion to your view so that you can monitor growth (or loss) over time. You have the final say on what information you want and need at your fingertips.
It's clear that events are essential to the functionality of GA4. In that same regard, standardization is extremely important. Think about the last time you switched chat tool vendors, did the goal break in your UA account? It probably did. This is because the events were processed differently between the two vendors. This same issue can happen to conversions in GA4.
You can lose important data if the events don't come through the same. If your new vendor isn't using the same event nomenclature and tagging methods as the old one, they are seen as separate entities; the original vendor's chat completion will drop to zero conversions while the new vendor's event will inflate dramatically. The only way to avoid this is to have all similar tools process the same way. But getting all of these automotive vendors to agree on and utilize the same nomenclatures feels impossible. At least, it did before the Automotive Standards Council (ASC) came into play.
The ASC is a group of over 100 leading digital vendors in the automotive space who are working together with the common goal of a universal standard in automotive analytics. This team is working to standardize these events, ensuring long-term accuracy in data collection, which is useful for both you as the dealer and the vendors themselves. With this setup, every vendor change should be seamless.
Getting on the GA4 Train
Now that GA4 has taken over, your top priority should be confirming that you have a functioning account that you own and that your vendor is supporting the ASC standard. Be sure to stay patient, though; this is new for everyone and there will be an inevitable learning curve while vendors are getting to know the nuances of this new landscape. GA4 has the opportunity to take data collection and analysis to the next level, and setting yourself up for success now is going to help you in doing just that.