Death of Universal Analytics - What's next?
Google recently made a big announcement to sunset their Universal Analytics product by June 2023. This means companies currently on Universal Analytics (UA) and UA360 tools to track their visitors will now need to migrate their analytics setup to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) by next year or fear losing the tracking completely. Here’s my take on the situation!
This announcement, as expected, has ignited a flurry of reactions and some not so pleasant backlash.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog post are entirely mine. They have no bearing or connection with my previous or current employer.
I read multiple blogs in regards to this topic, but the most sensible thought process is by Adam Greco in his Amplitude blog titled ‘Answering Questions Around Google Analytics Sunset & GA4’. He has intelligently analysed the reasons why Google decided to go ahead with this shift including the need to move to an event based data model. But the most important point he mentioned was about the process itself. According to him the migration from UA to GA4 isn’t as simple as flipping a switch. The simple reason being the underlying data architecture in GA4 completely different from Universal Analytics.
What this means is that for most companies the GA4 upgrade will be akin to a new implementation. Sure many of them will migrate successfully and GA4 will work for them, just how Universal Analytics is currently working - on an autopilot. But that is a sub-optimal zone to be in especially for companies banking on their digital transformation initiatives to lead the market space. A digital analytics tool has to be in alignment with the business KPIs, generate insights that can be actioned upon, and not just be a mere reporting tool. And this upgrade opportunity can be the right catalyst to bring that change in an organisation.
So if a company is going to invest time and effort in shifting to GA4, then why not explore other options and, still better, choose a market leader in the space - Adobe Analytics. Adobe Analytics is the most preferred digital analytics tool for companies of varied size and varying domains that include organisations ranging from finance to hospitality, retail to airlines, entertainment to consulting.
And Gartner for the last 5 years has been consistently ranking Adobe as a leader in the Digital Experience Platforms quadrant, and Adobe Analytics is a part of the platform.
I will list down a few reasons why I think an organisation should consider Adobe Analytics especially when there is a window available to integrate a tool that is not just a reporting tool. Just remember, my views are based on my years of experience working with this tool plus views of other experts I follow.
Reason # 1: Event driven analytics
Adam Greco in his blog mentioned that Google’s shift to GA4 is attributed to the limitation of Universal Analytics to correctly track today’s complex visitor behaviour and applications. And I completely concur with that thought. Digital analytics today is no longer about just tracking page views and sessions. It is about tracking and analysing the event between users and your digital property - be it app, or a website. It is about understanding visitor behaviour and the action they take combined with demographic properties. This process is called as Event Driven Analytics.
Adobe Analytics helps an organisations to capture events or visitor actions that are in line with their business KPIs and tracking goals. And it then combine these events with multiple dimensions in a way that is easy and intuitive with its Analysis Workspace, and without needing any extra investment in a business intelligence tool.
Reason # 2: Analysis Workspace
While one aspect of digital analytics is about capturing data, the other important part is to make sense of the data in an insightful way. That’s where business intelligence tools like Power BI or Tableau lead the market. But then there is an entirely different need of enabling connections and enabling resources to use the tool which can lead to many unplanned headaches.
This is the gap that Adobe Analytics has fixed with its offering of Analysis Workspace. I can’t go highly wrong claiming that the Analysis Workspace is a jewel in the crown for Adobe Analytics. The tool is a visualisation and reporting tool baked right within Adobe Analytics interface. It makes data analysis and visualising a breeze. It allows any user in an organisation to dive deep into data with absolute ease, and with little to no formal training. It is like a data reporting, data visualising and dashboard creation tool all combined into one. It therefore helps an organisation to uncover anomalies and actionable insights much faster and increases the adoption of a tool.
Reason # 3: Unsampled data
Data sampling is the practice of selecting a representative subset of data points to identify patterns and trends in the larger data set. Google Analytics applies various thresholds when you pull out any ad-hoc report. Basically, it runs your reporting query against a small subset of data and then returns the report. It does so to improve the speed of executing your query, but then this sometimes can lead to a phenomenon we call as sampling error.
Adobe Analytics has no concept of data sampling. It runs your reporting query against the entire dataset and returns the result as a report at super speed through the Analysis Workspace tool. This is one of the many reasons why Adobe Analytics is a tool of choice for organisations serious about their digital data.
Reason # 4: Ease of segmentation
Any organisation that looks at its digital analytics data in aggregate is missing out on insights that comes with creating segments - grouping their data on certain parameters. This is another place where Adobe Analytics simply shines from its competitors.
Due to its inherent data model, Adobe Analytics provides highly useful segmentation capabilities with a nifty feature called the segment builder. It allows creating segments using visitor, visit and hit level scopes and do it fairly easily. It also provides the ability to apply sequential logic using a ’then’ condition and be not limited by the standard ‘and/or’ combination. That’s not all. Segment builder can create really complex segments by nesting multiple segments. But the highlight of the tool is the ability to create segments right from the reporting interface by selecting multiple report elements and then just doing a right click.
Reason # 5 : Expert Support
One of the most helpful aspect of procuring an Adobe Analytics license is knowing that it is supported by a dedicated and responsive Customer Support team. What this means is that any authorised user from an organisation can reach out for help to the Support team through email, chat or phone.
But that is not all. Every organisation gets a shared or dedicated Customer Success Manager (CSM) whose sole purpose is to make the client successful. The CSM has the the authority to escalate high priority cases and to ensure that proper support is provided when needed. This is really a great assurance for organisations as they are not left to fend for themselves or scour the internet for expert support when faced with any kind of trouble.
When it comes to Adobe Analytics, the one most common feedback that I have heard from multiple people is that Adobe Analytics is hard to implement and not user friendly. I concur with that thought partially.
Yes, Adobe Analytics does require a certain level of organisation wide alignment. It requires deep involvement of business stakeholders, marketing and the IT team for correct and useful integration and in a way that it can lead to data led insights . It needs analysts to be enabled before they are able to dig deeper and make sense of the data.
And if the above points are considered, then we realise the fact that Adobe Analytics is not just a reporting tool. It is a tool made for analysis of data. It helps organisation to report on numbers, but then real value shines brightly when it is used to hypothesise, highlight and validate critical business decisions before and after they are executed.
If you require some deeper knowledge on Adobe Analytics, I highly encourage you to sign up for the Nordics Adobe Analytics User Group. This Chapter will be focusing on bringing together practitioners and experts of Adobe Analytics in the Nordic region. Get to hear from experts as they share their innovative thought processes and get a platform to present your own to a larger audience. Sign up for the Chapter here !