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Google Analytics transition


It was October 2020. Google announced the beginning of a new era and, in the same breath, the end of another. Universal Analytics (UA), the Google tool that synthesizes megatons of data collected online for marketing purposes, was to close its doors in 2023. To replace it, a new vehicle with a similar body but improved engine and axles: Google Analytics 4 (GA4), a version of the product re-designed to more easily navigate the fjords of Web 4.0.

Unlike other platform transitions that go unnoticed, this one requires companies to transfer the data collected on UA to the new GA4 platform before July 1st of this year, the date on which Google has set the official obsolescence of UA. Until then, both versions are functioning as best they can in parallel.

Google’s analytical tools, used by companies to translate user behavior on their domain into digestible data, methodically collect our digital age’s “gold”: they interpret clicks, make web traffic speak, transform millions of numbers into graphs, use algorithms to understand the psychology of the user, track our virtual steps, question the frequency of page visits, and provide specific answers regarding general user behavior; in short, such tools constitute the foundations on which a 21st-century online marketing plan is built.


A Feared Transition


For many, the news of this forced migration left a ripple of uncertainty in its wake. For companies, the traffic collected by UA since its launch in 2012 represents an invaluable swarm of data. Because while it is risky to let Google handle an automatic transition (which we recommend against), the risk of mishandling and losing data after July 1st is very real according to Mikaël Perreault, the Director of Data Science at Click & Mortar.

And even if the data is successfully transferred, the new system must be taught how to interpret it. While the interfaces of UA and GA4 are similar, their modus operandi is not. Launched over a decade ago, the Universal Analytics model is based on a liberal and systematic collection of “cookies” on websites, using them to record a user’s interactions with a web page. The new version, on the other hand, bypasses the use of cookies – new stricter laws require it – and instead creates a user profile based on more refined micro “events”: a click, the time spent on a page, downloading a file, watching a video.


A Necessary Luxury


To ensure a smooth transition, several companies are turning to expert digital marketing and analytics firms. A decision that Mikael Perreault, Director of Data Science at Click & Mortar, compares to the safety of a high-end car: “There are several ways to make the transition,” he explains. “You can do it Toyota Tercel style. But you can also go with the Cadillac of transitions.”

When it’s pointed out to him that many people get by just fine in a Tercel, Mikaël Perreault retorts that the highway of Web 4.0 isn’t paved with the same asphalt as Highway 40. “Listen, it’s possible to make the transition on the cheap and in a hurry,” he says, “but it’s never a good investment not to invest. Analytics is always the cornerstone of marketing; so it’s worth entrusting your transition to a company that knows what it’s doing and will ensure it’s done right.” According to him, investing now allows a company to build a steel foundation for its analytics-driven marketing, which is essential for future successful online campaigns. Tercels, it isn’t untrue, tend to struggle on long distances.

Recently, Le Devoir took a tour of the Click & Mortar Cadillac, a choice that quickly became evident for the reputable Montreal news outlet. “The perceived professionalism during the initial meeting, the reasonable rate, and a proposed timeline that fits our needs motivated our choice to move forward with Click & Mortar,” explains Simon Poirier, Director of Analytics and Business Intelligence at Le Devoir.

While using GA4 will become the only option starting in July, using it effectively will largely depend on the care companies have taken in this migration. According to Mikaël Perreault, optimal use of the tool relies primarily on careful guidance – ensuring, among other things, that the right things are analyzed at the right time. “Yes, data, but the most important thing is good-quality data that can be easily interpreted,” he insists. It’s important to listen to the data; but we also need to understand when it’s speaking.

It is precisely this concern for collecting relevant information and ultimately better serving its readership that led Le Devoir to trust the team at Click with its transition. “It is essential for us to gain a thorough understanding of the traffic on our website, the behavior of our readers, and the conversion paths,” explains Simon Poirier.

If this understanding of the Internet user is crucial for anyone aspiring to offer their users a pleasant browsing experience, it is also essential for converting traffic on their site into revenue. However, it is not always within reach, even for an organization the size of Le Devoir. Simon Poirier explains that this is why the newspaper chose seasoned professionals to handle its migration: “Due to a lack of time and internal expertise in this area, we decided to turn to a firm specializing in digital marketing and analytics. We didn’t want to leave anything to chance.” Makes sense. They say that chance has a way of working out in life. Funny how the same thing is said of Click in the digital world.

If data is an important aspect of your marketing strategy and you would like to discuss it with the experts in analytics at Click & Mortar, don’t hesitate to contact us—we’re here for you. It will be a pleasure to talk about it.

Jules Sabourin

Author Jules Sabourin

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