I didn’t think this day would come. I thought that Google Analytics 3 AKA Universal Analytics would always be a part of my digital world, I didn’t think it couldn’t be—but here we are.
I was extremely sceptical when the original sunset date was announced. I thought GA4 was nowhere near ready for mainstream and that the GA3 sunset would be pushed at least 6-12 months. I was wrong, the day is here and it has happened.
GA3 is dead and GA4 is still kind of confusing.
10 years ago(ish) was the first time I witnessed eCommerce tracking enabled in GA3 on a website—it was honestly life changing. The fact you could directly attribute income to a marketing activity (i.e. an email, a social post, a blog), and see the behaviour in between was a brand new paradigm.
The marketing I studied at university was largely conceptual, big picture and driven by opinion and anecdote. It was grounded in focus groups and self reported surveys, not data and immediately observable behaviour.
Assessing impact and performance would require marketing research, a brand index, or something else that is only accessible to those with deep pockets and then inclination care.
Google Analytics—a free tool—changed all of that. Shattered it.
Who cares if the industry is saying sending emails at 10am is the most effective when I can look at my own data and know that 8am is better.
Who cares if the big boss thinks this copy is the best when we can prove that an alternative is better. The fact some people don’t care about data was a more nuanced lesson I was yet to learn...
I remember previously being in arguments about button size and colour, or copy changes or position of stuff on a page and they would drag on, unresolved. Now we could just say we’d test it and pick what performed best (often without any kind of statistical significance mind you).
Everyone wanted the best outcome, so this was an easy option that was previously nonexistent.
Marketing, in my mind, could now become a science. And for me, it did.
Everywhere I’ve worked since I’ve strived to bring about a curious, data driven and informed culture. I’ve spruiked the value of a well implemented GA to anyone that would listen. I’ve pushed people to reflect, learn, and be better, because we now knew what was possible.
Google Analytics transformed the way I approach my work and totally changed how I think about things. No other tech platform has consumed more of my time, inspiration and passion than GA3.
I understand the benefits of GA4 and I understand why there needs to be change, but I will sorely miss GA3.
I’ll miss the familiarity of the reports, the quirks and getting lost in drilldowns and even the moments when you accidentally click the bubble chart diagram button.
Thank you and goodbye Google Analytics 3—I'll miss you.