Google Analytics is Dead
Google is retiring another product. They do this routinely, but this time it’s different. It’s not a niche product with a small (for Google) set of users: it’s a flagship product, in use on millions of websites.
Google is retiring Google Analytics.
What’s that you say? You didn’t hear about this?
Well, Google doesn’t say that they’re retiring it. They claim that they are upgrading it. But it seems fishy to me.
Upgrading or retiring? #
I’m skeptical of the claim that this is an upgrade, because Google is removing many of the key features of their product.
They are removing views, so tracking multiple websites on the same account is going to be messy and difficult.
They are removing free data storage, so if you want to keep the entire history of your site, you’re in trouble. 14 months is their longest free data retention policy at the moment.
Worse even than that, there is no migration path. So if you don’t find a way to store your legacy Universal Analytics data, then in less than a year—POOF—it will be gone.
Why are they doing this? Well, Google says they’re adding all sorts of AI features. These will give you “new insights” into your data. Sounds cool, but realistically will many people use this? In my experience, most people use the bare minimum in GA, and that’s all they need. They want to know that people are visiting the site and that it’s generally growing.
You don’t need AI to tell you that.
The Photoshop Problem #
Universal Analytics has the Photoshop Problem. Verge magazine calls Photoshop “anachronistic and indispensable”, “a city for everyone”, and Universal Analytics is no different.
The tool tries to be something to everyone. It’s a world-class city full of tools: what you need is there, but it might be impossible to find.
Perhaps removing features from GA is Google’s way of trying to fix this problem. Maybe rather than a tool for everyone, they are creating a tool for just the experts.
Or maybe they’re trying to push people into purchasing their $150,000 GA 360 product (which does still support views, interestingly).
Either way, unless Google drastically changes course, I think we might see a drastic migration away from Google Analytics.
Some benefits of ditching GA #
- Most simpler analytics platforms are faster than GA
- Simpler platforms are less likely to share your users data
- Many simpler platforms are GDPR compliant without a consent overlay
- You’ll be able to keep your legacy data longer
- Simpler to use and implement
Mass migration? #
On this site, I’ve long been a proponent of non-Google tracking options. There are risks with these tools as well of course, but strangely enough, they seem more stable than a Google product. I doubt GoatCounter will ever have a breaking change to their product, and if they do, I’m sure they will have a migration path.
Retiring a product with no way to store or preserve your legacy data is something that only the big boys seem to do.
If you too are interested in breaking free of Google, here are some great options to look into:
- GoatCounter (in use on this site, and has a free tier)
- Plausible (beloved by Swizec and commonly discussed in the industry)
- Publishes new article on GA4