Universal Analytics, or GA3, will soon be gone. On July 1, 2023, standard properties will stop processing new calls. After this date of about six months, they will completely stop working.
If you cannot migrate your Universal Analytics data to GA4, you can back them up. Google is also taking the lead and encouraging users to save their historical reports during the transition phase between GA3 and GA4. “We know your data is important to you and we strongly encourage you to export your reporting history during this period.” Here are some ways to export your reports.
1. The query explorer to export its data
It is possible, but not ideal, to export reports directly from Google Analytics. This option is done in the “Report” part of GA, on the left of the interface. It allows you to choose what you want to export, in CSV, Excel (XLSX), or PDF formats. But you can only apply two dimensions and you are limited to a maximum of 5,000 rows. And in case thousands of users come to your site every day, your data may also be sampled.
The query explorer, UA Query Explorer, allows you to target and export data for free. Go to the tool in question and log in. You can choose the account, property and view you want to export. The GAA unique identifier used to retrieve Analytics data is already mentioned. All you have to do is choose the period you want to export. Also choose the metrics and dimensions you want. For example, you can choose the ga:user metric based on the ga:userType and ga:sessionDurationBucket dimensions.
You can optionally play with other parameters, such as filters and segments. To run the report, press the “Run Query” button at the bottom. You see the data appear according to your selection.
Download them in .tsv format. This allows you to create files of values separated by tabs. You can output the document to Excel to access the report.
2. Connect to Google Sheets
Since 2016, there is a Google Analytics add-on on Google Sheet. It allows extracting data from GA and displaying it in Google Sheets. The tool is relatively intuitive. It allows you to display data such as traffic by geographical regions or by devices used. To set it up, create a spreadsheet in Sheets. In the “Extensions” tab, click on “Add-ons”.
Then click on the rectangle where “Google-analytics-add-on” appears.
After downloading the module, go back to a Google Sheets sheet. Click on “Extension”, “Google Analytics” and “Create new report”. A table appears. It allows you to create a new report, name it, select the view and configure its options. You can use statistics and metrics from Google Analytics. Note that you can use this tool to check the validity of your dimensions and metrics combinations.
Then click on “Create report”. The taking into account of your configurations is displayed on the Google Sheets. You can add settings by going to the “Report Configuration” sheet, which includes the configurations of your different reports. You can directly change your dates in the table to specify the desired period. For example, you just need to put “StartDate:150DaysAgo” instead of “StartDate: 30daysAgo” to receive data dating back 150 days.
Then go to “Extensions”, “Google Analytics” and “Run report” to display your report.
3. Export with BigQuery
Are these methods sufficient to save your historical data? For some data experts, a static export, via csv files or Google Sheets for example, is not enough. “It only shows us ‘frozen’ data for a given period,” explains Bruno Guyot, co-founder of Blaise & Bruno Acquisition Marketing. “What is needed is a complete export of the raw data so that you can then continue to query this data and be able to use it.”
A solution may be to go through BigQuery. This tool makes it possible in particular to create advanced personalized reports or to combine the data with other tools, such as a CRM. If BigQuery is free for GA 360 users, you will have to spend some money for users of the standard version of GA3. “The July 1, 2023 deadline gives advertisers a one-year comparative window to start implementing Google Analytics 4 – and setting up GA4 export to BigQuery for a very affordable price”, launches Julien Coquet, data and analytics director at Media.monks for the EMEA region. On-demand or flat-rate rates are available. You will find more information here on the prices charged.
4. Other paid solutions
There are also solutions to export your data in a less “fixed” way. Like that, partly paid, of OWOBox. This allows you to create a pipeline between GA and BigQuery. To do this, it collects raw, non-sampled data. These are uploaded to BigQuery tables in real time. Session data is transmitted to BigQuery the following day. Benefits of this solution include collecting as many custom parameters as you want, or creating reports in BigQuery without sampling. Here are the proposed prices.
Electrik.AI also allows you to build a data pipeline from Google Analytics. You can configure the data flow from the user interface. Your historical data is exported to BigQuery, OneDrive or Dropbox. It is possible to start with a free trial, a cloud-based subscription model is offered.
5. Migrate quickly rather than export?
Isn’t the best solution still to quickly migrate to GA4 or another analytics tool? This would allow for sufficient historical data in the new solution chosen to replace Universal. “If we start now, that gives one year before the migration to GA4″, summarizes Bruno Guyot. A way of not having to export historical data? “Personally, and it’s in tune with the times with the announced end of cookies and all anti-tracking mechanisms, I think that long-term analysis is more or less dead”, replies Bruno Guyot. “Analytical data has an increasingly ephemeral value. They must be used daily or monthly, to optimize the website and set up AB tests. But the value of historical data, beyond a year, seems very low to me. In my experience, few companies actually use their analytics data. For those who do, it’s generally rare to look back more than a year. At the limit, they realize it to see an evolution of traffic over several years.