Brian Clifton: Understanding the Impact of Google Analytics
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Google Analytics has more than 85% market share, according to numbers reported by W3Techs.com. However, it has not been without its controversy this year, and big changes are coming.

As of July 1, 2023, Google's Universal Analytics Platform properties will stop collecting data, and historic data will be deleted six months later. This forthcoming change has users all riled up.

CMSWire's CX Decoded caught up with Brian Clifton, co-founder of Verified Data, author and former head of analytics Europe, Middle East Africa for Google to provide perspective on the major changes and how to prepare. Clifton was the first head of Web Analytics for Google in Europe, and he helped launch the original Google Analytics in November of 2005.

Episode Transcript 

Note: This transcript is edited for length and clarity.

Dom Nicastro: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the latest edition of CMSWire CX Decoded. I'm Dom Nicastro, managing editor for CMSWire.com. And I am joined by my co-host today, newbie to the podcast world, loving it, the latest member of our editorial team Michelle Hawley. Michelle, how're you doing today?

Michelle Hawley: I'm doing good, Dom, glad to be here. Let's hear from our guest. Welcome, Brian.

Brian Clifton: Thank you for the invitation.

Dom: Brian, so good to have you today. You know, we thought we'd just level set here. I mean, I gave a little bit of what went down with Google this year.

But we'd love you to come in, give us the big picture. So what's the big change with Google Analytics users, you know, what can they expect? And why did your former company make this move, you think?

Brian: Well, it was first announced quite quietly, actually, in 2019, this first kind of muted as the Web + App version of Google Analytics. So that means being able to combine app data with web data. But I don't think people really realize for a while just how significant this was going to be.

It was completely revolutionizing how Google Analytics works, both in terms of collecting data, but also how you access data. So it has been around for a few years in alpha and beta. And now, in a final version; it is a significant change, it makes a big difference, not just because it's the old version is going to be turned off, and you have to move over to this, but also in terms of how the data is collected, how the data is stored, and how users ultimately use it.

Now, I'm not quite sure why, other than from Google's point of view, technology just simply moves on. If you think about Google Analytics, it launched in November 2005, and then in a small way, I was a part of that when I joined Google. So that data more you think about the technology, it's 17-years-old, things can be done in a smarter way. They can be done better, faster, more efficiently.

So it doesn't surprise me that there needs to be a change in how this data is collected and stored and served to users, that I think is probably due, long overdue. I just think the way it's been done and the way it's been forced on users, rather than encouraging them to use a better product, that's where things have caused problems for Google.

Why Everyone Is Riled Up Over GA4

Dom: Yeah, exactly. In the article, Brian, you were quoted in from CMSWire by Scott Clark, gave some reasons why people are all riled up and upset.

So let me list them, and then maybe you can tell us if these concerns justified.

  • So No. 1, GA4 data will be not directly comparable to UA data, so Universal Analytics data.
  • Any existing UA reports will stop getting updated after July 1, 2023.
  • Whereas UA was based on page view measurements, GA4 is based on events.
  • Users of Google Tag Manager will need to update or replace their tags.
  • All users will need to create new Google Analytics properties to store their data in, all properties will be deleted.
  • And lastly, there is a big difference between Google Analytics 4's and Universal Analytics interfaces, meaning a learning curve while teams adjust.

Did we kind of capture everything that's upsetting folks here, Brian?

Related Article: Google Is Forcing the Switch to GA4 — and Many Brands Aren’t Happy

Brian: All those things are true. Yeah, that's that's pretty much encapsulates it.

It's a long list of bullets. But I think ultimately it comes down to things are changing, and things are going to be done differently.

And all of us are resistant to change, because it's a little bit painful to do, but you've covered it in a nutshell. Yep.

What's the Marketing Impact of Changes to Google Analytics?

Michelle: So Brian, here at CMSWire, we cover marketers pretty closely, and we know you focus on all business users. But do you have any actionable advice for marketers on how they can start preparing for the GA move now, as we sit here in mid 2022?

Brian: Well, I think the first thing is not to be too afraid of it, you know, at the end of the day, yes, it's change. But those issues Don just listed, they're not, I don't think they're major hurdles.

Of course, it's painful when you can't look back over years of data and do year-on-year comparison. But but in my experience, rarely do people go beyond the kind of 12, 14, 16 months. I think people like to do that they'd like to think they want to do that.

But the reality is, is I think people, users of Google Analytics, tend to look at the here and now, they tend to want to compare this week with last week and this month with last month, and of course, this time last year. But beyond that, I just don't think that's such a big deal to have all of this historical data.

And of course, Google's never really committed to keeping data forever. They haven't cut anybody off to my knowledge. But they haven't really made that kind of commitment to say that data will last forever. Generally, it's just not needed.

Related Article: How Google TOPICS Impacts the Analytics Ecosystem for Marketers

So I think that there are issues out there and there is resistance to change. But I think in terms of moving forward, and getting on board with GA4, the biggest advice I can give anybody is just start, and start now. Because obviously there is this deadline next year.

And I would say that it's not that difficult to get started, you can get up to speed with tracking the basics in Google Analytics very quickly. And I'm talking like a few hours to switch over from Universal Analytics to GA4; anyone that's kind of has experience in doing this, it's not a big deal to do.

And when I talk about the basics, they're not actually that basic anymore in Google Analytics, version 4. So outbound links, file downloads, YouTube, video engagements, if you have embedded YouTube's, site search, all of those things now is much, much easier to get set up and running and get some meaningful data out of those with not a great deal of effort.

Now, of course, if you have ecommerce, and you have some more kind of fancy features on your website, perhaps a dealer locator, and that may be a strong engagement point, that's going to require more thought, but the basics, the basics can be done very quickly. And I just encourage people to do that, if you can tomorrow, next week, very, very soon.

The Time to Prepare for GA4 Is Now

Dom: So that cushion like of, you know, 2023, you know, I think when marketers or business users hear something next year, they think next year. Our minds are totally 2022 right now, this is coming in 2023.

You know, let's look at it in December. And then let's have a game plan starting in January. And they feel like they're getting ahead of it at that point. What my question is like, when's too late, you know, when it's too late to start working on this transition, if your business has a heavy Google Analytics shop?

Related Article: Google Analytics Introduces Migration Tool for Conversion Transition to GA4

Brian: Yeah, you need to start now. I mean, that cutoff date, July 1, 2023, the tool is going to get switched off, Universal Analytics will be disconnected, stop collecting data first, and then there's a grace period where actually you won't be able to see it historical data.

So if you want to see one year's worth of historical data from July 1, 2023, then obviously, July 1 of this year is the deadline for getting that done. So ASAP.

Dom: Yeah, that is not something you want to miss, for sure. Good advice there.

And you know, as you're talking, Brian, I'm thinking 85% market share, everyone's riled up, the whole internet. Why is Google Analytics so critical for business users? Why do they have the stranglehold on the analytics market?

Is there a compelling reason, if you're a Google Analytics shop, to consider alternatives? Or if you're invested, like you are now, and with these changes coming, I mean, do you have to stay, is kind of what I'm asking, are you kind of like baked in, you're embedded, you're locked in kind of thing? I mean, have you ever experience someone moving off Google Analytics?

Brian: I mean, that's a good question. It is entirely possible. But the Google ecosystem is very attractive, especially if you're doing a lot of advertising with them. The integration with YouTube, the integration with ads, and all of the other things that they have, and that's deliberately so.

But it is possible to do, there are other tools out there, and particularly in Europe, which is obviously where I'm based, people are looking at, a lot more seriously, about what are the alternatives. And the main reason why there's so much focus in Europe is because of the privacy issues, Google being Google, you know, they suck up all of this data not just from Google Analytics, but pretty much anyone online if there's any connection with Google.

From a privacy point of view that has quite big implications. GDPR is what I'm talking about here. And so people and large organizations are thinking, OK, rather than sending our data off to Google, which at the end of the day is an advertising platform, rather than sending all our data over to the US, which is a transfer issue, which is a big concern at the moment, why don't we do this within Europe?

Related Article: 5 Lessons Learned from 4 Years of GDPR

So certainly, there are people looking at alternatives, and there are alternatives. So no problem in the principle of doing that. You ask why, you know, why is Google Analytics so popular today? Why does it dominate the marketplace? I think there's two simple reasons. One, it's a good product. When I started off in this industry, 20 years ago, analytics was very much focused at IT teams; it was very much aimed at that area, of technical people wanting to look at server performance, those sorts of things.

And what Google, and remember Google bought the product called Urchin software, so it's Urchin really that started this off. What they did is they just completely turned that about head and said, no, this isn't a tool that is particularly valuable to it, it's much, much more valuable to marketers, because they want to know how their website is performing, what works, what do people engage with, what converts, and of course, you know, where should they spend their money marketing.

So the Urchin and the Google Analytics that it became, it's just a fantastic tool, really, I mean, I, you know, I'm going to miss Universal Analytics, because it's really focused on finding a very quick setup or a simple setup, and finding information quickly, that you can turn into insights. So it's not a huge jump for a novice user to look at Universal Analytics and get some kind of insights about their marketing about their website.

And the other reason why it's so popular is it's free, you know, Google can do that they give away a product for free.

Dom: Yeah. When I'm looking at things to buy, Brian and Michelle, I don't know about you, but like when it's comparing $2.99 a month versus zero a month, I tend to favor the zero, you know, provided it turns on, at least.

Michelle: Same here, Dom, same here.

Dom: All right, good.

Michelle: I think with Google Analytics too, I mean, it's become such an invaluable tool for marketers, I would almost say it's the very first tool in your marketing toolbox when you want to get your content out there.

Learning Curve for Universal Analytics Is Small

Brian: The learning curve for Universal is small. It's kind of very, very intuitive, it's got a brilliant user interface, in my view, and it's free.

And the great thing I think, that I really have taken away from working at Google and with Google, is this kind of philosophy about freemium, what does freemium mean? So to a lot of people, freemium means well, you get some basic features for free, but if you want anything useful, you're going to have to pay. That's kind of the traditional freemium model that's evolved.

But what Google has done is said no, particularly with Google Analytics, is we're going to give you pretty much all of the features, all of these powerful, really, highly developed tools for free. And the way they make their money is, you have a certain amount of horsepower that you can use, so there's a limit to how much data that can be collected and processed.

That's a very generous limit, by the way, I mean, it's currently 10 million hits per month, that's probably about a million visits per month, something like that. So it's a fairly highly traffic-ey website.

So this idea that you get everything for free, so people like me can really go deep in these products, understand them, do good research on it, and then of course, if you need the horsepower, if you have huge quantities of data, then of course, you need to pay for that.

Michelle: And now this next iteration of Google Analytics, Google Analytics 4, promises to dramatically improve the data model used. But it's also going to make it harder for users to find the information they need.

Brian, you told us in the May 6, CMSWire article by Scott Clark, if you're a user, or an implementer, like me, it's very important. But users don't really care about that. They just want to find their data.

That's where the problem comes in, though. You added, how do you find your data? How do you understand what's going on? How do you build your story and find your insights in Google Analytics 4? It is quite frankly, horrendous. So how can brands prepare in this data model arena?

Powerful Way of Building Google Analytics Data Model

Brian: As I said, the data model, I think, is much better, a lot more flexibility, and therefore more powerful.

Of course, with more flexibility, you need more experience and more understanding of what's going on.

But that side of the coin, the data model is just much better, much more powerful. We're not stuck with pageviews only and paste title being about the only dimensions you can collect on a page. And we're not tied to this hierarchical model of event tracking, that is category action label, and you have to have the category first before you can track the action and then the label. All of that is done away.

And now you have 25 parameters that you can send with every event. So you can see this is a very powerful way of building your data model.

I'll give you an example, actually: dealer locator. You know, there are filters perhaps on a dealer locator page, you're interacting with a map, you might want to select, refine your search by product or service, there's other geolocation areas, maybe there's a size and a color of the product that you're looking for, you want to do. Lots of interactions, lots of parameters that you're tracking. You want to capture that information at the point, the visitor is clicking on a particular dealer, as well as the dealer information. That's almost impossible to do with Universal Analytics, in fact, I would say it is impossible to do. You can collect the data, but you can't stitch it together to the same person, the same session.

That's possible in GA4, so very powerful to do that. And you can think about doing that perhaps in ecommerce, you know, when you're looking at a product, a T-shirt or a bike or something like that, you can know the color and the size, and those data points come with you, as you're navigating around the site, instead of having to track them at the point of click. So very powerful.

But at the end of the day, users of Google Analytics, generally, aren't too bothered about the data model. As you said, they just want to find the data, and they want to say, OK, is marketing campaign X, is that working better than marketing campaign Y? It often comes down to a simple question like that, there could be lots of complexities to answer that question, but that is often the simple question that marketers are trying to answer. And that's very difficult to do in GA4, for some unknown reason, that the user interface is now a lot more cumbersome.

Dom: Hey, Brian, you mentioned events a few times there. Can you explain to our listeners what you mean, what constitutes an event?

Brian: So in Universal Analytics, there are two types of sentiment, there's more, but essentially, you think of it as two types of interactions.

There's the pageviews, or the page loads in the browser, that triggers a pageview a piece of information, a hit that's sent to Google Analytics. Then there's other interactions that you can think of as clicks, essentially, what does the user click on on your website? Do they click on some kind of widget that brings up a popup, do they use some kind of drop down selector to select size or some other variable, these are clicks. And so you track those as events. And you can attach in Universal Analytics, three parameters to those events. So you have pageviews, and events, and you can combine those together to give you the total amount of hits that you have.

In GA4 that's very different, because everything is just called an event. So a pageview is just a special type of event. So there's no kind of differentiation now between events and pageviews, they're all events. That's very useful if you also have app data. Because everything driven in an app essentially, is an event, it's not pageviews in an app. So it makes it a lot easier to put those two different types of data streams together.

Related Article: How to Set Up Conversion Events in Google Analytics 4

Will Google Respond to Concerns About the Changes?

Dom: Listening to you and reading all the feedback on CMSWire, and on the Twitter world about things that are upsetting people about these changes. I mean, I've never seen a change, especially a big one like this in tech, where everyone says, thank you, provider for doing this. I love change. And I am ready for this. We are ready to drop things we've been doing for two decades, and we're on board.

That said, that said, you know these concerns, Google has shown some flexibility and listening to feedback, right? I mean, you look at the Google FLoC idea with third-party cookies, they've adapted, they listen, and they adjusted, probably still going to be adjusting to that the based on feedback. Do you think we're going to see some kind of change, changes, based on feedback so far, that the community's been riled up about?

Brian: I hope so, let's put it that way. I hope it gets better in terms of finding information.

But I do think that Google has taken a certain path with a user interface that can't really be tweaked. I don't think many people are going to be satisfied with the tweaks. I think, fundamentally, there's so many problems with the user interface.

Personally, I think it's doomed to failure, the user interface, I'm talking about, not not Google Analytics 4 itself. Maybe that's deliberate. Maybe Google doesn't want these mom and pop shops, that have very little data and don't spend much on advertising, maybe they want to allow those people to move on and not use Google Analytics. Maybe it's a deliberate reason. Maybe Google Analytics wants to be a data warehouse tool, and not a data reporting tool. Because that's what it is at the moment, it's a data reporting tool.

GA4 feels much like a data warehousing tool, where everything's in some giant database doesn't really make sense to look at it. And what you need is tools to interact with it, you know, business intelligence tools that allow you to pull out the data with API requests, and build your own reports. There's quite a bit more effort, obviously, to make that happen. So instead of being served, kind of reports that make sense, which is where we are now with Universal Analytics, you have to think about, OK, I want to build my own report, and how do I do that? And who's going to do it and what skills are involved, and how many reports do I need? So there's a lot more overhead to that.

So I think people will gravitate towards using different tools in order to visualize their data, so Data Studio is Google's visualization tool, there are others, Power BI, Tableau, etc. These are tools where you can connect to any data source, and that might be quite preferable so that you can pull out not only your website data, but other data from back-end sales, databases and things like that, platforms that aren't Google.

Michelle: So we've been a little negative here, Brian.

Dom: That's what we do, Michelle, that's what we do.

Brian: Are you talking you or me here? Who's negative here?

Dom: I think she means the Google community at large, are like, "We hate everything."

Michelle: Oh, yeah, I think everyone's really resistant to this change. But I think that there has to be some positives to this. And you've covered some of that already.

But Google has to have the user interest in mind, right? What are the core problems of Universal Analytics that Google Analytics 4 will solve? And how will organizations that use the platform benefit?

Related Article: How Marketers Should Prepare for Google's Universal Analytics 2023 Sunset

Brian: Well, I think I touched on a couple of them already. One is the ease of setup. Although it's changed, and no one wants to have to stop what they're doing and make that change, actually, getting set up with some really good data is very straightforward to do. So we talked about engagement with videos, they're ubiquitous now, embedded YouTube videos on your pages. We've talked about file downloads, outbound links, interaction with your own site search, that there's great data in that, that's very easy to get set up. And it's a lot more robust in GA4 as well, in other words, less likely to go wrong. So just getting set up with those fundamental things is quite quick.

Obviously, ecommerce and more sophisticated things we talked about with like the dealer locator example I gave you, that requires more thought, but it requires more thought and Universal Analytics anyway, it's just a different type of thinking. So I wouldn't worry too much about those. They are challenges, but it's no, no harder in GA4, you've just got to rethink it.

Concept of Time New Concept for Google Analytics 

But there's a couple of things that are really good in GA4 that I like, one is this new concept of time, that never existed in Universal Analytics. So, it is possible in GA4 to ask the question, for a filling form, for example, so you have some kind of subscription or contact us filling form, how long did it take from the visitor who started typing in step one, till they got to the end and submitted the form?

So you can have reports in Google Analytics 4 that gives you that concept of time. How long does it take for people to fill in the form? Or how long does it take for someone who lands on a campaign landing page, to actually converting, whatever that conversion is, it could be they bought something, or it could be that they just clicked on a special offer or something like that. There's a time element now that was never there before; that's very, very interesting. I haven't explored in detail what to do with that. But just the concept that it's there is, is very interesting.

There's another thing which is funnels. So funnel analysis in Universal Analytics is extremely cumbersome, very rigid, you have to define the steps yourself. Step one could be a landing page. Step two, could be looking at a product page, step three could be look at the details, step four, checkout and so on, and then the conversion. That works if you have a very well defined funnel, like the one I've just described. But what if you don't? What if your conversion is just a download of a PDF? That's very valuable to you, but there is no defined funnel, because you have this download button all over your website, you can't define a funnel in advance.

What GA4 allows you to do, is to say, OK, this is my conversion point, the download of a PDF, for example, how did people get there? What is the funnel, the most common paths, if you like, or the most common events that led people to that download? So you can build a reverse funnel, a funnel in reverse, or starting with the conversion, and then looking backwards. That's a very powerful feature that that GA4 brings to the table.

Michelle: When you mentioned the ability to capture time, what possible insights can marketers gain from this new metric?

Brian: You caught me on the hop there, I'm still trying to figure that out myself. It's an interesting concept. But that obviously, the kind of off the top of your head thought is, everybody wants to minimize the time it takes for a conversion. Just like Universal Analytics, everybody wants to minimize bounce, right? These visitors that come to your site and just bounce away and don't do anything. It's kind of the same concept. You know, you want to minimize that and get people to get there faster. But no, I haven't looked at it beyond that.

Dom: No, I think time with marketers, Michelle and Brian, I think it's huge if you can add that into your analytics, because we talk about on CMSWire things like customer effort score, being so important. And time is a huge part of that. I'm going through an insane number of redo, send backs, exchanges with a furniture company in my new home, like 10 of them, I'm not kidding, 10 pieces of broken furniture.

And I told the customer service rep the other day, you know what the biggest problem with this whole situation is, it's it's furniture, who cares, we sit on it, it's an inanimate object, it's not that. It's the time I have spent calling you back, talking to your chatbot, texting delivery options, I've spent an enormous amount of time.

So if Google Analytics 4 can tell me conversion time rate success, and you can improve your marketing and customer experience programs based on that, I think that is a big win. If that's the case, if that's what you can do with that, if you can get those metrics, and determine when your customers are, how much time they're spending with you. So I'm interested to follow that particular aspect of GA4, for sure.

Sometimes High Bounce Rate Is a Positive

Brian: Just bear in mind, I think the comparison with bounce rate is a good one, actually, it's the way I've been thinking of it. Is that the story that you've just given is very much about how do you make things faster? How do you get there quicker? It's a very kind of millennial type of thinking. And that's true, but it's not doesn't fit every case.

Just like for example, reducing bounce rate is not necessarily a good thing for every case. So if you're a publisher, let's say you're a broadsheet newspaper, The Guardian, The Times or something like that newspaper, you know, you want people to come onto your website, read the article, and be very happy, very engaged, get the information that they want. And maybe that's it, and you're done with it. So all you do is look at one page, but you're a happy customer, you're a happy user. So it's not necessarily that reducing bounce rate is something that you always want to do.

Sometimes having a high bounce rate is fine, if your customers are happy with that, and then that's kind of the direction of want. That's kind of the problem I have with time, is sometimes if you increase time, it's not a bad thing. It can mean your users are simply more engaged. So it's just a little bit of care as to how that's interpreted. Just like bounce rate has always had required that type of care.

Dom: Yeah, the feedback I got from one of the reps at that furniture company, was wow, your profile is a giant mess. They literally like, mea culpa, it's a giant mess. I guess it made me feel they acknowledged it at least, but...

Brian: Are they talking about your social media profile?

Dom: Yeah, they probably were.

Related Article: Google Gave Us a Reprieve on Cookies. My Advice? Don't Take It

Dom: But going forward, do you see major business problems being solved, like high-level business problems that Google Analytics 4 will solve that Universal Analytics kinda struggled in, things beyond just like the API interactions and reports, and how you use the tool? That's great if there's improvements in how you use the tool, awesome, but big-level high-level business problems, is that going to be solved by this switch?

Brian: I don't think so. No, I think that would be too grandiose and ambition.

I think what they're trying to get to is a place that from Google's point of view is just a more efficient way of collecting, storing, accessing data. So they need to get better at what they do. As I said, some of the technology here goes back to Urchin days, which is 20-years-old.

From the user's point of view, I think what they want to be able to have, is the users kind of by default, have very accurate, robust data. So I mean, that it's collected in the right way, and stays collecting in the right way, so kind of set and forget type or setup. A lot of that hasn't been possible in Universal Analytics. There has been ways where, quite frankly, people can mess up, usually by accident, usually by slight misunderstanding, by lack of experience, that sort of thing.

So yeah, people like myself have made good business out of helping and using our experience to show people how to do it in a better way, or writing books, for example. So it will be more robust, I think, GA4, and that's obviously a good thing. Because if it's more robust, what that means is people trust the data. There's a huge bad smell generally, over web analytics data, it's either badly set up, or it's junk, or noise or something like that. Very easy, in fact, once you start drilling into data, to find auditors, to find things that just don't add up, or smell badly, and that's left a lot of senior managers, really the people that hold big budgets for marketing and website development, just simply not trusting Google Analytics data.

So if that can be improved with this new data model, then that's going to be a good thing. So you'll have this kind of level of trust permeating up, improving, if you like, throughout an organization, so that some of the big decisions that have to be made, are made looking and using Google Analytics data. So it kind of, indirectly, I think that will happen. But I don't think there's any great sort of epiphany that's gonna happen just by switching to GA4.

Michelle: Now, we know marketers are already kind of shuffling to make this shift now so that they have that year of historical data to back them up once the full shift to Analytics 4 comes about. But do you think there's potential for another delay? It's been pushed back before, so do you think Google will stick to these timelines now?

Brian: Possibly not actually, I think that the timeline is kind of arbitrary. I suspect that it was a struggle because of all the stuff we've talked about today, for people to move to GA4 and certainly to move to anything meaningful in GA4, just the basics maybe. So I think the timeline has been imposed to really kind of push people along and get this moving. Kind of makes sense. I wish it was a much better product, and therefore people naturally moved across.

So it wouldn't surprise me if this timeline gets delayed. Ultimately, there will there will be a timeline for closing off Universal Analytics. I don't think it's a long way away. So if what are we talking July 2023? If that slipped to Dec. 31, 2023, it wouldn't surprise me. But I don't think we're gonna go much beyond that.

Dom: I love delays. I mean, when people cancel meetings and push it off the next, I love that don't, don't we love that. We love delays.

Michelle: We do. I think when you said that Google Analytics might get pushed back again, marketers just gave a big sigh of relief all around the world.

What Happened With Google Analytics Back in 2005?

Brian: We I'll give you an interesting side story, when we launched Google Analytics, so this was November, I think Nov. 11, 2005, I remember the date well. Just before the product launched, the Google team kind of did an estimation of how big is the market? How many users are there are web analytics tools out there? What's the size of the ecosystem? And we came up with it almost a finger in the air, guesstimate, but we estimated about 30,000 users. That's kind of the size of the industry around about 2005.

Within one week of launching, we got to 100,000 users, in one week. So you can think about the scale of that just, you know, tripling the size of the entire industry. Now, of course, things have moved on, there's 10s of millions of users now. But at that time, we're just talking about delays, we had to delay Google Analytics, so we had to close the new sign-up form for getting onboarded Google Analytics for 12 months. Because amazingly, Google could not cope with the volume of new subscribers and the volume of data coming in when just after seven days, we went from zero to 100,000.

So delays do happen is kind of a nice delay, because it signifies the success of the product. And being free was obviously a big driver, because there was nothing free before then. But delays do happen in Google.

Dom: Yeah, I mean, it takes me like, you know, half a second to get search results. I mean, it's ridiculous how long they take to do things around that company. Come on Alphabet, step it up, right?

Michelle: And if it takes longer, you get frustrated.

So Brian, before we go here, what's your one big takeaway for users from our talk today about this big news around Google Analytics, something actionable they can do right now to prepare for these big changes coming in 2023.

Start Making the Switch to Google Analytics 4 Now

Brian: I think the obvious one is get on board now, if you want to stick in the Google ecosystem, you need to start doing this right now. Of course, it's not the end of the world, if you don't have 12 months worth of data, when Universal Analytics switches off, so don't worry too much.

But if it is important to you, start now. And also, don't be afraid, in that, as I said, a lot of good quality data can be collected without a huge amount of effort. That's one of the big things about GA4, it's a lot easier to get set up with some fundamental data points, like how many people click on an outbound link, which that might be very important to you, if those outbound links that go into your resellers, for example, how many file downloads, how many people watch a video, 10% 50% 90% of the way through. So a lot of good data can be done very, very easily, not a huge amount of effort. It just takes a little bit longer for ecommerce and some more fancy event interactions. But don't be afraid of it. Because is what I would say.

Dom: Excellent, a lot to digest here, there's been a big number of changes coming for Google Analytics, and people are definitely laser focused on this. So we hope this podcast helps shape some actionable items for our listeners.

Brian, we can't thank you enough for joining us and helping bring this all into context, into perspective, great job.

So Brian, we love giving our CX Decoded guests some time to share some places that listeners can follow you, and your thought leadership. We know you're a multi book author here. So anything you want to share with our listeners feel free.

Brian: Well, I wouldn't buy any of my books just yet. Last one was published 2015. And as we know, in this industry, that's a long time ago. So yeah, I've written a number of books, I wouldn't push those on anyone. Wait to the next one, which is, who knows 2020-something.

Two easy places to find me. One is brianclifton.com. That's me, obviously, and that's where I do my long articles and my research, do some surveys. And it's where I just keep all of my thoughts in one place. So I will probably talk about this interview, for example, on there from my point of view, so please do connect on me there if you have that time and want to read more in-depth stuff.

And then LinkedIn just happens to be where I've been since I think the very beginning of LinkedIn, you connect with me they're very easy to find me. That's where I engage in conversations and the more sort of shorter topics and opinion pieces.

Dom: Excellent. And that, Michelle, is the first time we ever had an author say don't buy my books.

Brian: Well, not yet.

Dom: That is a first for us. I love it ringing endorsement. I love that. So honest.

Brian again, can't thank you enough and thanks, Michelle rockin' and rollin' on your podcast debut here with CX Decoded, the bad news, Michelle, is that because you did so good you're signed on now officially, you're lined up for the rest of 2022 for sure.

Michelle: Thanks for having me Dom, and it was great talking with you, Brian. It was really nice to be here.

Brian: Thanks for the questions. I enjoyed it.

Dom: All right, and thank you for listening to CX Decoded. Stay with us for the next one, looking forward to more conversations on customer experience and marketing.