Analytics

Save Your Universal Analytics Data Before It Disappears July 1st

By Ryan Norman| 6 Min Read | June 4, 2024
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Universal Analytics data will be gone July 1st. Are you prepared with a data exporting strategy that works for you? Take control of your historical data before it’s gone!

Table of Contents

Google Universal Analytics: A (Very) Brief History
Data Will Be Gone From Google Universal Analytics On July 1st, 2024
Value of Backing Up Universal Analytics Data
Options to Back Up Universal Analytics Data
GA4 Interface Downloads/Imports to Sheets (Manual Approach)
GA Interface PDF Downloads (Manual Approach)
GA4 Interface download to CSV/Excel (Manual Approach)
GA API to Looker Studio (API-based Approach)
GA4 API for Sheets (API-based Approach)
Enterprise-Level Data Retrieval (Exhaustive Approach)
The DOM Preferred Approach Using Custom Templates Via API
Preserve Historical Data from Universal Analytics Before the July 1st Deadline

Google Universal Analytics: A (Very) Brief History

Google’s Universal Analytics (UA) platform is probably what most people think of when they hear “Google analytics” tossed around. UA is the online portal where website owners can track sessions, users, conversions, revenue, and pretty much every KPI about people visiting a website.

UA launched in late 2012 and ran until the summer of 2023. So UA is where all of your data from 2012 to 2023 resides, meaning all of that history is going away.

Data Will Be Gone From Google Universal Analytics On July 1st, 2024

Google is sunsetting its Universal Analytics product. As of July 1st, 2024, you will no longer be able to access the user interface for UA, and you won’t even be able to access the API for UA. All historical data in your UA account will also be deleted.

This will complete Google’s shift to its Google Analytics 4 platform. This push began in earnest last summer, when UA properties stopped processing new data (on July 1st, 2023). Historical UA data has still been accessible since then, but now that window is closing as the July 1st, 2024, deadline approaches.

Value of Backing Up Universal Analytics Data

Data-driven Decision-making
You can use the historical data from UA to inform your decisions moving forward with GA4. There’s likely years of data on how your website performed in UA. That data empowers you to make decisions that are based on statistical analysis, rather than just gut guesses.

Nurture What’s Worked
UA data is a guide to what’s been working for your business. Careful analysis of past performance can reveal the tactics that have generated revenue. That way you can confidently invest in those tactics that have proven their worth.

Prune What Hasn’t Worked
On the other hand, understanding the historical performance of initiatives that didn’t pan out is just as valuable. UA data may reveal that that email campaign aimed at men ages 20 to 30 just never really gained much traction. So you can stop putting money toward such non-converting segments of your audience.

Options to Back Up Universal Analytics Data

The data analytics experts at DOM have reviewed the options suggested by Google itself, as well as by prominent industry players. We’ve got thoughts on the merits and drawbacks of each. We also have our own approach that we recommend you try to get the most out of your historical UA data.

GA4 Interface Downloads/Imports to Sheets (Manual Approach)

Pros

  • Easy to do

Cons

  • Very time-consuming as it encompasses 100-200 different reports
  • Provides numerous one-off Google Sheet that aren’t in a helpful format
  • Difficult to think through and account for all the different dimensions and metrics
  • Can run into cell limits in Google Sheets
  • Prone to user error

GA Interface PDF Downloads (Manual Approach)

Pros

  • Easy to do
  • Some sort of visualization is in place
  • Reports look familiar to what we are used to seeing in the UA interface

Cons

  • Incomplete because it’s not the raw data
  • Provides numerous one-off PDFs that are not useful for data analysis or manipulation
  • Granularity and filtering options are limited

GA4 Interface download to CSV/Excel (Manual Approach)

Pros

  • Easy to do
  • Simplest form of data backup

Cons

  • Need to account for hundreds of different downloads
  • Subject to sampling
  • Data is in a format that is not easily manipulated or queryable

GA API to Looker Studio (API-based Approach)

Pros

  • Easy for the user who is familiar with Looker Studio
  • Can leverage existing Google Analytics connector
  • Can leverage pre-built templates for fast data visualizations

Cons

  • Subject to sampling
  • The API for Universal Analytics is unstable and prone to breakage
  • Very little ability to manipulate the data
  • While it provides the visualization, the reporting and data itself are very low value and benefit

GA4 API for Sheets (API-based Approach)

Pros

  • Easy to get started and pull reports
  • Direct access to raw data without having to store across workbooks

Cons

  • Subject to sampling
  • Must dedicate a lot of time to merging and massaging the data
  • Must dedicate time to optimizing the queries
  • Will run into cell limits in Google Sheets—especially with day/week granularities
  • Very challenging to maintain
  • Data does not match up to what’s in the platform
  • Very difficult to drill down and filter the data with multiple dimensions

Enterprise-Level Data Retrieval (Exhaustive Approach)

Pros

  • Complete data warehouse solution
  • Can back up more than just Google Analytics
  • Implementation support

Cons

  • Pricing is designed for enterprise level at $10k minimum
  • Can’t unbundle data warehouse solution from backup solution or choose what options you want

The DOM Preferred Approach Using Custom Templates Via API

Pros

  • Queries are optimized so you get the most useful data while maximizing storage limitations
  • Prebuilt templates that mimic UA reports (take the guesswork out!)
  • Export and storage options
  • Can easily connect to Looker Studio for visualizations and dashboards
  • We do it for you!

Cons

  • A nominal cost (unless you want to back up an extreme volume of data)

Learn more about how DOM can export your Universal Analytics data.

Preserve Historical Data from Universal Analytics Before the July 1st Deadline

It is time to say goodbye to Universal Analytics. Whether you’re quite ready to or not. Google is completing their sunset of the platform July 1st, 2024, when both the user interface and API will go offline. Most importantly, that date also marks your last chance to retain your website’s historical data.

Transitioning to Google Analytics 4 necessitates backing up UA data to inform future decisions. Options for data backup include manual downloads (to Google Sheets, PDFs, or CSV/Excel), API-based approaches (using Looker Studio or GA4 API), and third-party solutions like Supermetrics, each with varying pros and cons.

At DOM, we’ve developed a custom API template approach for optimized, comprehensive data backup with easy integration to Looker Studio for visualization.

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