Google Analytics

The Devil Is in the Detail

  |  February 6, 2014   |  Comments

To ensure your Universal Analytics setup doesn't get lost in translation, there's a new tool that can be used to double-check your syntax.

With Google Analytics making Universal Analytics its default data collection and processing technology, there has been a lot of talk about why you should switch, when you should switch, potential pitfalls to switching, etc. Back in December I even wrote a post covering the most common questions I've received from current and potential clients.

And having done a similar swap a few years back, from the Google Analytics synchronous syntax to the asynchronous syntax, I remember that one of the most frustrating parts of migrations was remembering the new terminology and syntax. After all, with a new analytics technology, there is almost always a new syntax to replace the old technology. And as most implementation specialists know, one missed comma or parenthesis can cause a data collection nightmare.

Thankfully, though, the digital analytics industry is seeing an ever-increasing adoption of tag management systems. And while this adoption does mean that less analytics practitioners need to memorize the placement of every comma or parenthesis, the need to know proper syntax is still necessary. This is because as sites need advanced implementations, beyond the stock configuration of most tag management systems, the analytics practitioners will need to resort to manually written syntax. And as you can see in the below examples, the updated syntax is quite different.

Example Google Analytics Event tracking snippet for ga.js syntax:
_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'category', 'action', 'label', 'integer value']);

Example Google Analytics Event tracking for analytics.js syntax:
ga("send", "event", {
"eventCategory": "category",
"eventAction": "action",
"eventLabel": " label",
"eventValue": "integer value"

As a result of this needed knowledge, and because our eyes don't always catch those missing commas before code launch, the analytics team I work with has taken the technology of Airlock, a free tool for use with making the transition from ga.js to Universal Analytics, and used it to create a translator for double-checking your syntax. Feel free to check it out and use it for your next Google Analytics upgrade.

If you are undertaking a Universal Analytics migration or planning one soon, I really hope you can find the Universal Analytics translator useful. And if you run into any other headaches aside from new syntax, what are they? I'd love to hear your thoughts, and who knows, we may even make a new tool for it.


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.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Analytics newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!



Featured White Papers

2015 Holiday Email Guide

2015 Holiday Email Guide
The holidays are just around the corner. Download this whitepaper to find out how to create successful holiday email campaigns that drive engagement and revenue.

Three Ways to Make Your Big Data More Valuable

Three Ways to Make Your Big Data More Valuable
Big data holds a lot of promise for marketers, but are marketers ready to make the most of it to drive better business decisions and improve ROI? This study looks at the hidden challenges modern marketers face when trying to put big data to use.