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3 Google Universal Analytics Upgrade FAQs

  |  December 9, 2013   |  Comments

To help navigate the transition period, columnist Robert Miller shares some common questions and his recommendations around the Google Universal Analytics upgrade process.

google-analytics-universal-analyticsGoogle Analytics (GA) recently announced that in the coming months, GA properties will be automatically upgraded to their new standard property type, Universal Analytics. No hard deadline has been announced on when all properties that use legacy tracking code will be converted to Universal Analytics; however, some low traffic/low-risk properties have already been automatically converted.

To help navigate this transition period, here are some common questions I've been asked and my recommendations around the Universal Analytics upgrade process:

1. So what exactly does this auto-conversion mean for my GA properties?

Currently, accounts that are upgraded to Universal Analytics properties are still able to use the ga.js legacy tracking codes. This means that your tracking codes do not have to be updated immediately. However, if the tracking codes are not updated from the ga.js syntax to the analytics.js syntax, new features such as custom dimensions and metrics or dimension widening won't be available to you.

2. What if I don't have the resources to retag my site right now?

This is a great question, as doing a full GA implementation can be resource intensive and something your client or organization may not have planned in their budgets. For this scenario, there is a free, open source tool called Airlock (full disclosure, I work on the analytics team that created this tool). Airlock is a JavaScript library that automatically translates ga.js GA calls into the analytics.js (Universal Analytics) syntax. This lifts the burden of re-tagging your entire site immediately, letting you utilize the full features of Universal Analytics until you can retag your site with updated analytics.js tracking codes.

3. What else should I be thinking about during this transition period?

Retagging an entire site can be a daunting task. However, it also provides an opportunity to fix any tracking implementations that may not be ideal. You may have metrics you don't trust, or items you want to track but haven't had the opportunity to do so. Whatever your situation, take the time and invest the right resources.

Here are a few questions to consider when updating your site's code:

  • Do you trust your current data? If not, take the time to audit your implementation and identify any gaps in accuracy or the reliability of your data. If you need further help, reach out to a Google Analytics Certified Partner who can help you with any GA related items.
  • Do you have a tag management system in place? If not, you may want to investigate a tag management system such as Google Tag Manager or Adobe Dynamic Tag Management. Tag management systems will help streamline the process of updating any tags moving forward and will help you get past any IT bottlenecks or deployment schedules that you may run into.
  • Is your current GA implementation documented? If not, this is a great time to do so. Good documentation will help members within an organization know what's being tracked, how to find the data, and why it is being tracked a certain way. This increases efficiencies in any future updates you may perform, as well as keeping people on the same page about what data is available.

What other questions might you have about the transition to Universal Analytics that you would like answered? What features of Universal Analytics are you most looking forward to?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robert Miller

Robert Miller is a Senior Analyst at Search Discovery. He is actively involved in industry organizations, such as the Analysis Exchange and the Digital Analytics Association.

With the Analysis Exchange, he helps non-profits capitalize on their website data, and educates aspiring digital analysts about the foundation of digital analytics, from the implementation of a digital analytics tool to performing analysis and making data-driven recommendations for organizations.

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