Going Universal; Upgrading From Google Analytics

By January 16, 2014Blog

The Geeks at Bravr are busy migrating Google Analytics properties to the shiny new Universal Analytics.  Here we take a look at the main differences between the two systems and how the upgrade could affect you.

In 2012 Google announced the launch of Universal Analytics, a system designed to improve the collection and processing of data in Classic Analytics, known to most as Google Analytics. Upgrading to Universal Analytics is said to give GA users the opportunity to upgrade GA properties to UA, without losing data or having to change account settings.

Currently in phase one of the Universal Analytics Upgrade, standard account holders can upgrade using an upgrade tool to transfer properties from UA to GA. Be warned, though, all GA properties will be required, in the near future, to use UA. If you don’t upgrade in time, your account will be auto-transferred to the UA system. The upgrade to Universal Analytics may be something that you were considering; now it is something that you simply can’t ignore.

What Does This Mean For You?

UA is a completely reworked incarnation of the Analytics tracking code. Here are a few of the main differences between GA & UA.

  • The UA tracking code is completely different to that of GA. One of the biggest differences is that UA uses only one cookie, compared to GA’s four. A bulk of the information sorted by GA’s four cookies will go directly to Google servers; providing (allegedly) greater flexibility for users, and simpler customisation whilst allowing tracking of users even when cookies are disabled.
  • GA tracks one visitor on different browsers and devices as multiple unique users, potentially skewing statistics. UA has a user ID code that can be implemented programmatically, which will enable us to track the same user on multiple browsers and devices.
  • UA has been designed to give more synchronised and comprehensive data than the asynchronous GA. As a result UA offers 20 customer dimensions for free users and 200 to premium users, compared with the 5 free and 50 premium custom variables available on GA. This gives a much broader spectrum for users to collect and analyse data that is not tracked by default on the new UA system.
  • UA is said to offer integrated tracking; enabling users to track from different applications and devices, such as call centres and CRM. It is even possible to import offline data and conversions, such as POS data, giving a more rounded, comprehensive view of end-user activity.

For experienced users, it looks like Universal Analytics will allow a much clearer view of customers’ behaviour. This could take the use of Analytics from a broad marketing analysis to a comprehensive business analytics tool. We will be able to closely examine customer behaviour, which will, inevitably, have an impact on where we focus time and money on marketing strategies.

Will It All Be Plain Sailing?

Once users have upgraded, customised and familiarised themselves with the new tracking code, custom dimensions and the promised new array of reporting features, Universal Analytics should offer a lot more in terms of marketing and business analytics than GA does at the moment. However, there are some features in GA that are not currently available on UA:

  • Remarketing
  • Google Display Network Impression Reporting
  • Content Experiments
  • AdSense Integration

For businesses hiding from the upgrade to Universal Analytics one thing is certain; you can’t hide forever. All GA users will automatically be upgraded, so it is up to you whether you would prefer to take matters in your own hands or sit it out and wait for the inevitable. Google have released information about Universal Analytics, how it will work for users, and detailed information on how to upgrade. So maybe it’s time to jump, before you get pushed…..

If you’re worried about the upgrade or want to know how to get the best out of Analytics, get in touch.