GA360 Sunset: Is Now the Time to Switch?

GA360 Sunset: Is Now the Time to Switch?


Google pushed the sunset date of Universal Analytics 360 to July 2024, giving enterprise users more time to transition to Google Analytics 4. This extension is also seen by some as time to find a suitable alternative. 

While Google positions GA4 as an upgrade to Universal Analytics, the new platform has faced its fair share of backlash. 

So before you rush to meet the new sunset deadline, ask yourself this question: Is now the time to switch to a Google Analytics alternative?

In this article, we’ll explain what the new GA360 sunset date means and show you what you could gain by choosing a privacy-friendly alternative. 

What’s happening with the final GA360 sunset?

Google has given Universal Analytics 360 properties with a current 360 licence a one-time extension, which will end on 1 July 2024.

Why did Google extend the sunset?

In a blog post on Google, Russell Ketchum, Director of Product Management at Google Analytics, provided more details about the final GA360 sunset. 

In short, the tech giant realised it would take large enterprise accounts (which typically have complex analytics setups) much longer to transition smoothly. The extension gives them time to migrate to GA4 and check everything is tracking correctly. 

What’s more, Google is also focused on improving the GA4 experience before more GA360 users migrate:

“We’re focusing our efforts and investments on Google Analytics 4 to deliver a solution built to adapt to a changing ecosystem. Because of this, throughout 2023 we’ll be shifting support away from Universal Analytics 360 and will move our full focus to Google Analytics 4 in 2024. As a result, performance will likely degrade in Universal Analytics 360 until the new sunset date.”

Despite the extension, the July sunset is definitive. 

Starting the week of 1 July 2024, you won’t be able to access any Universal Analytics properties or the API (not even with read-only access), and all data will be deleted.

In other words, it’s not just data collection that will cease at the start of July. You won’t be able to access the platform, and all your data will be deleted. 

What GA360 features is Google deprecating, and when?

If you’re wondering which GA360 features are being deprecated and when, here is the timeline for Google’s final GA360 sunset:

  • 1 January 2024: From the beginning of the year, Google doesn’t guarantee all features and functionalities in UA 360 will continue to work as expected. 
  • 29 January 2024: Google began deprecating a string of advertising and measurement features as it shifts resources to focus on GA4. These features include:
    • Realtime reports
    • Lifetime Value report
    • Model Explorer
    • Cohort Analysis
    • Conversion Probability report
    • GDN Impression Beta
  • Early March 2024: Google began deprecating more advertising and measurement features. Deprecated advertising features include Demographic and Interest reports, Publisher reporting, Phone Analytics, Event and Salesforce Data Import, and Realtime BigQuery Export. Deprecated measurement features include Universal Analytics property creation, App Views, Unsampled reports, Custom Tables and annotations.
  • Late March 2024: This is the last recommended date for migration to GA4 to give users three months to validate data and settings. By this date, Google recommends that you migrate your UA’s Google Ads links to GA4, create new Google Ad conversions based on GA4 events, and add GA4 audiences to campaigns and ad groups for retargeting. 
  • 1 July 2024: From 1 July 2024, you won’t be able to access any UA properties, and all data will be deleted.

What’s different about GA4 360? 

GA4 comes with a new set of metrics, setups and reports that change how you analyse your data. We highlight the key differences between Universal Analytics and GA4 below. 

What’s different about GA4?

New dashboard

The layout of GA4 is completely different from Universal Analytics, so much so that the UX can be very complex for first-time and experienced GA users alike. Reports or metrics that used to be available in a couple of clicks in UA now take five or more to find. While you can do more in theory with GA4, it takes much more work. 

New measurements

The biggest difference between GA4 and UA is how Google measures data. GA4 tracks events — and everything counts as an event. That includes pageviews, scrolls, clicks, file downloads and contact form submissions. 

The idea is to anonymise data while letting you track complex buyer journeys across multiple devices. However, it can be very confusing, even for experienced marketers and analysts. 

New metrics

You won’t be able to track the same metrics in GA4 as in Universal Analytics. Rather than bounce rate, for example, you are forced to track engagement rate, which is the percentage of engaged sessions. These sessions last at least ten seconds, at least two pageviews or at least one conversion event. 

Confused? You’re not alone. 

New reports

Most reports you’ll be familiar with in Universal Analytics have been replaced in GA4. The new platform also has a completely different reporting interface, with every report grouped under the following five headings: realtime, audience, acquisition, behaviour and conversions. It can be hard for experienced marketers, let alone beginners, to find their way around these new reports. 

AI insights

GA4 has machine learning (ML) capabilities that allow you to generate AI insights from your data. Specifically, GA4 has predictive analytics features that let you track three trends: 

  • Purchase probability: the likelihood that a consumer will make a purchase in a given timeframe.
  • Churn probability: the likelihood a customer will churn in a given period.
  • Predictive revenue: the amount of revenue a user is likely to generate over a given period. 

Google generates these insights using historical data and machine learning algorithms. 

Cross-platform capabilities

GA4 also offers cross-platform capabilities, meaning it can track user interactions across websites and mobile apps, giving businesses a holistic view of customer behaviour. This allows for better decision-making throughout the customer journey.

Does GA4 360 come with other risks?

Aside from the poor usability, complexity and steep learning curve, upgrading your GA360 property to GA4 comes with several other risks.

GA4 has a rocky relationship with privacy regulations, and while you can use it in a GDPR-compliant way at the moment, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to do so in the future. 

This presents the prospect of fines for non-compliance. A worse risk, however, is regulators forcing you to change web analytics platforms in the future—something that’s already happened in the EU. Migrating to a new application can be incredibly painful and time-consuming, especially when you can choose a privacy-friendly alternative that avoids the possibility of this scenario. 

If all this wasn’t bad enough, switching to GA4 risks your historical Universal Analytics data. That’s because you can’t import Universal Analytics data into GA4, even if you migrate ahead of the sunset deadline.

Why you should consider a GA4 360 alternative instead

With the GA360 sunset on the horizon, what are your options if you don’t want to deal with GA4’s problems? 

The easiest solution is to migrate to a GA4 360 alternative instead. And there are plenty of reasons to migrate from Google Analytics to a privacy-friendly alternative like Matomo. 

Keep historical data

As we’ve explained, Google isn’t letting users import their Universal Analytics data from GA360 to GA4. The easiest way to keep it is by switching to a Google Analytics alternative like Matomo that lets you import your historical data. 

Any business using Google Analytics, whether a GA360 user or otherwise, can import data into Matomo using our Google Analytics Importer plugin. It’s the best way to avoid disruption or losing data when moving on from Universal Analytics.

Collect 100% accurate data

Google Analytics implements data sampling and machine learning to fill gaps in your data and generate the kind of predictive insights we mentioned earlier. For standard GA4 users, data sampling starts at 10 million events. For GA4 360 users, data sampling starts at one billion events. Nevertheless, Google Analytics data may not accurately reflect your web traffic. 

You can fix this using a Google Analytics alternative like Matomo that doesn’t use data sampling. That way, you can be confident that your data-driven decisions are being made with 100% accurate user data.  

Try Matomo for Free

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Guarantee user privacy first

Google has a stormy relationship with the EU-US Data Privacy Framework—being banned and added back to the framework in recent years.

Currently, organisations governed by GDPR can use Google Analytics to collect data about EU residents, but there’s no guarantee of their ability to do so in the future. Nor does the Framework prevent Google from using EU customer data for ulterior purposes such as marketing and training large language models. 

By switching to a privacy-focused alternative like Matomo, you don’t have to worry about your user’s data ending up in the wrong hands.

Upgrade to an all-in-one analytics tool

Switching from Google Analytics can actually give organisations access to more features. That’s because some GA4 alternatives, like Matomo, offer advanced conversion optimisation features like heatmaps, session recordings, A/B testing, form analytics and more right out of the box. 

Matomo Heatmaps Feature

This makes Matomo a great choice for marketing teams that want to minimise their tech stack and use one tool for both web and behavioural analytics. 

Get real-time reports

GA4 isn’t the best tool for analysing website visitors in real time. That’s because it can take up to 4 hours to process new reports in GA360.

However, Google Analytics alternatives like Matomo have a range of real-time reports you can leverage.

Real-Time Map Tooltip

In Matomo, the Real Time Visitor World Map and other reports are processed every 15 minutes. There is also a Visits in Real-time report, which refreshes every five seconds and shows a wealth of data for each visitor. 

Matomo makes migration easy

Whether it’s the poor usability, steep learning curve, inaccurate data or privacy issues, there’s every reason to think twice about migrating your UA360 account to GA4. 

So why not migrate to a Google Analytics alternative like Matomo instead? One that doesn’t sample data, guarantees your customers’ privacy, offers all the features GA4 doesn’t and is already used by over 1 million sites worldwide.

Making the switch is easy. Matomo is one of the few web analytics tools that lets you import historical Google Analytics data. In doing so, you can continue to access your historical data and develop more meaningful insights by not having to start from scratch.

If you’re ready to start a Google Analytics migration, you can try Matomo free for 21 days — no credit card required. 

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A powerful web analytics platform that gives you and your business 100% data ownership and user privacy protection.

No credit card required.

Free forever.