Today, Google Analytics has finally announced that Universal Analytics is out of beta. The big news this brings along is that Universal Analytics now has full feature parity with Classic Analytics in terms of demographics and remarketing functionality. It also brings along the start of the rollout for cross device and user-centric reporting, which will be a UA-only feature. Most exciting for our Premium customers is that Google is now confident and committed in Universal Analytics functionality and is now supporting it under the Google Analytics Premium service-level agreements. We will be reaching out to all of our customers soon to get them started on the process of transitioning.
User-centric reporting is now the most important reason you need to switch to Universal Analytics. To date, custom dimensions and metrics have been the biggest feature that was only available for Universal Analytics, which allowed us to essentially create any schema of data and removes the restrictions that custom variables had. User-Centric reporting natively bring cross-device reporting to allow us to analyze how different devices lead to outcomes on our digital properties. These new reports represent a shift and maturity in the Analytics industry in moving away from tracking visits and session and moving to reporting on our users as the foundational element. These reports combined with the change in ‘Advanced Segments’ to ‘Unified Segments,’ which introduced the ability to create user cohorts, gives analysts an incredible powerful platform. An example of what one of the new user-centric reports looks like from the Google announcement post is below:
If you are implementing Google Analytics for the first time, there is no reason not to use Universal Analytics. The choice is simple, upon creating your account select Universal Analytics and ensure that you implement it in Google Tag Manager or another Tag Management System.
If you are like most and are on ‘Classic Analytics’ Google has provided avenues for you to upgrade.
a. If you are on Google Tag Manager, you should begin the migration process in the admin section of your Google Analytics account. This will take roughly 24 hours and you should receive this message upon completion.
Upon completion, mirror your ‘Classic Google Analytics’ tags into ‘Universal Analytics’ format and then use the ‘Real-Time’ and Google Tag Manager’s test and debug features to ensure there are no errors. If any mistakes are made, rollback to the last version and work on fixing any errors.
b. If you are not using Google Tag Manager or another Tag Management System, the first step is to implement Google Tag Manager or another Tag Management System, as they are now foundational elements of Analytics implementations and management. I would recommend creating a new web-property in Google Analytics and mirroring your existing ‘Classic Analytics’ implementation in Google Tag Manager using ‘Universal Analytics’ tags. Collect a few days of data and if all looks good then follow the process in (a) above this for upgrading to Universal and upon completion simply remove all your legacy tags and replace the tracking code ID with your main account. Now you have an industry standard implementation on Universal Analytics with full access to historical data and continuity with your new data.
If you are one of our clients we will be reaching out to you soon to make this process as smooth as possible. We have been standardizing on Universal Analytics for some time and can ensure that you are leveraging all of the new functionality it brings to its fullest extent. For our Premium clients, now that it is supported under your SLA’s, all future work will likely start to be Universal-focused in nature. We will reach out to you to let you know more. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out.