Google is deleting YOUR data - why is this a BIG problem

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Starting July 2024, Google is deleting your first-party data. Your GA Universal account will cease to exist.

Decades of insights are about to be eliminated, yet the business community is not talking about Google's significant move.

To help unpack what is happening and explain the impacts on your business, this article addresses three topics…

  1. What is Google doing?
  2. What are the risks of losing access to this data?
  3. What can you do to prevent the loss of this data?

#1. What is Google doing?

Google announced it will permanently delete all GA Universal data. This from Google

Starting the week of July 1, 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.

The story of what is happening is clear and simple. Understanding why you need to move quickly to save this data is a slightly longer story.

#2. What are the risks?

Despite all the unique strategic nuances of a business, every retailer and B2B wants two things:

  1. Use the right information to develop a loyalty program and/or launch activities that will bring customers back to repurchase: retention.
  2. Use the right information to make changes/enhancements to the current online experiences to acquire new customers: acquisition.

Where does the right information come from to transform a business to achieve the above two goals?

  • Business strategy?
  • Business data/insights?
  • Market data/ trending insights?
  • Digital/eCommerce best practice?

The answer is “all of the above”.

An elegant collision of planning and data sources drives a business's transformation trajectory.

The “Business data/insights” mentioned above is your first-party data.

Why is first-party data important?

Google Analytics data defines and directly captures interactions between you, your customers, and those who have not purchased from you.

It’s a method to document how you engage with people who want something from you.

Forbes has this to say about first-party data...

You can gain audience insights, create a personalized experience for your users, improve your retargeting strategy, identify patterns and predict future trends.

For first-party data to add value requires a robust “customer data supply chain” allowing you to move from data collection (how you collect it) to unification (how you pull it together to tell a story) to decision-making activation (how you use it to drive decision making).

This supply chain of first-party data enables a competitive advantage known as “time to insight”: rapidly accessing valuable data to evolve.

Time to Insight – how it can support Customer Acquisition:

An example of how rapidly leveraging first-party data to support customer acquisition is seen in “look-a-like” marketing activities.

This marketing function uses trending data to identify consumer engagement behaviours that create high-value customers. This profiling method is translated into targeted marketing campaigns to attract and convert others with similar behaviourisms.

However, accurately identifying behavioural patterns and trends requires large data sets.

GA Universal holds a treasure trove of insights that can and should be used to support and enrich the above initiatives. That is the risk.

#3. What can you do? How to preserve your GA Universal data?

For this historical data to be valuable, it must be preserved to support a business's data supply chain and time-to-insight needs.

Achieving this requires a specific approach and treatment of your GA Universal data before it becomes deleted.

There are 4 steps…

Step 1: Move GA Universal data to a secure environment

This data must be removed from Google servers and securely moved to its own secure hosting environment (data collection).

Step 2: Move data in the right format

This data needs to be moved in the right format to be manipulated and massaged to produce the right reporting (data unification).

Step 3: Introduce Visual Reporting Tools

Reporting tools can then be synced to this data to produce dashboards and specific reports, making it easy to access the types of insights deemed valuable (time to insight).

Step 4: Align Data Formats to GA4

The GA Universal data must be formatted to align with the GA4 data format. This enables data continuity (data unification) between the two versions of GA, giving you enormous scope for data mining opportunities.

Side note: The first-party data sitting in GA4 dates back to when you originally loaded the GA4 tag, but this represents only a small percentage compared to what will be lost from GA Universal if you don’t act quickly.

YOUR Next Step:

Achieving the above steps to the right standard requires specialists. If you work with a Data Agency that can execute the above, start this conversation with them ASAP.

If you have no one to trust to complete the above steps, email me at I can steer you in the right direction.

This article was as tagged as Data Driven Decision Making , Data Gathering

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