Universal Analytics – Plan for a Smooth Migration

Universal AnalyticsUniversal Analytics, first launched in 2012, moved out of beta yesterday and is now the version of Google Analytics that all new Google Analytics accounts will default to.

We’ve been implementing Universal Analytics for our clients for a while to take advantage of features such as the UserID override for better multi-channel attribution, but were simultaneously tagging with the dc.js remarketing code version to take advantage of the Audience reports (demographic, affinity, interest reports).

Double-tagging is no longer needed.   With the move out of beta, the missing features that necessitated running dc.js accounts are now in Universal Analytics.

You don’t have to migrate right away but you should put a plan in place to do so.

Although Google has never stopped collecting data with the older code versions*, it appears you have about 2 years to migrate – Read “What happens if I don’t upgrade?” in Google’s Universal Analytics Upgrade center.

If you have custom Google Analytics coding, plan to review this to make sure that nothing breaks during migration. Universal Analytics migration is a excellent opportunity to scrutinize your current analytics processes – are you collecting and analyzing the proper data to support your organization’s business objectives?  Are you getting enough value from analytics?

We strongly recommend implementing a tag management system such as Google Tag Manager or Ensighten as part of the migration.  Use a tag management system to hold all your tracking tags.  This will speed up page loading (great for both users & SEO), improve tracking governance and reduce implementation and maintenance time.  (If you are groaning at the effort to re-implement custom coding in Universal Analytics because of the effort with your earlier implementation, it will be faster and less costly if you use tag management.)

Lots to think about but there is time to plan.  And a great place to learn more and discuss actual experiences is the upcoming eMetrics Summit in Toronto, where there’s a full 2-day track just for Google Analytics.  Google’s Justin Cutroni will be on-stage in an interactive session with the audience.  eMetrics is a great opportunity for you to discuss Universal Analytics migration and Google Tag Manager implementation experiences.  Not yet registered for eMetrics?  Use discount code CLICK15 to get 15% off a 2-day conference pass.

Other resources:

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* To check for older code versions, you have two easy options:

  • “View source” and look for the code versions – ga.js, dc.js and urchin.js.  Universal Analytics is analytics.js
  • Install the Google Tag Assistant from the Chrome Store to determine your code version.  Do check all sites because we came across one site recently that still has urchin.js (original 2005 version) still running.

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