Google is back with another round of updates for this year, 2023. As expected, the platform continues to roll out updates rapidly. Businesses and their marketing teams should be prepared to adapt and optimize their strategies to ensure better results.

Let's dive into some of the significant Google updates coming this year:

GA4 Takes the Spotlight as the New Universal Analytics

GA4 has been the talk of the town for a while now, and it's finally here. Starting from July 1, GA4 will be the only analytics game in town, so it's essential not to delay the transition.

Although GA4 has been in use since 2020, those who haven't embraced it yet have a deadline to catch up. Users will have a six-month window after the switch to back up and save their data.

The significant difference between GA4 and Universal Analytics lies in their approach. GA4 is an event-based platform that captures data from button clicks, conversions, and viewed videos while complying with privacy laws. On the other hand, Universal Analytics is pageview-based and focuses on tracking and reporting individual sessions on a single device.

GA4 introduces cross-device data management without relying on third-party cookies. Instead, it utilizes machine-learning algorithms to help businesses identify the sources of their leads. Ultimately, this empowers advertisers to maximize their budget across various channels.

However, some advertisers and marketers have reservations about GA4.

Our advice is to give yourself time to adapt. Many experts recommend running both Universal Analytics and GA4 simultaneously for a few months to familiarize yourself with the changes. While certain elements remain recognizable, they may have a different structure. Make sure to download historical data for year-over-year tracking because after July 1, this won't be possible.

Similar Audiences Faces the Axe

Google's Similar Audience feature, which allowed advertisers to target new users with shared or similar interests based on existing remarketing audiences, is being phased out due to privacy concerns.

Starting May 2023, new campaigns and ad groups won't be able to utilize Similar Audiences. Users will have until August 1 to leverage the tool before it disappears completely. However, historical reporting data will still be accessible for a limited time.

In addition to updating audiences before the transition, Google advises advertisers to make the most of their first-party data when creating new campaigns. The silver lining is that exploring different campaign types could lead to better performance and faster results. At IMPACT, we have often utilized "interest" or "affinity" audience types in our targeting, so this change will have minimal impact on our clients.

It may seem overwhelming, but remember that you don't have to navigate these updates alone. Qualified digital marketing professionals can assist you in starting and finishing this year on the right note.