You Should Upgrade to Universal Analytics Now

A Quick Guide on How to Upgrade From Google Analytics to Universal Analytics

Keyboard key labeled 'upgrade'Google has recently announced a more advanced form of Google Analytics called “Universal Analytics”. Universal Analytics is the new operating standard for Google Analytics. Universal Analytics provides users with more features and better insights. Plus, it enables you to track, measure, and analyze traffic to your website.

What Is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics provides marketers with detailed statistics about website and mobile traffic. This includes the sources of traffic. It measures conversions and sales results. It tracks visitors from all referrers such as search engines, direct visits, affiliate marketing partner sites and social media networks. It also displays online advertising, pay-per-click advertising, email marketing and links to digital content such as PDF documents or video.

Google Analytics can help you find the audience you want. It can reduce your customer acquisition costs by helping you target the best-performing marketing channels.

What’s New With Universal Analytics?

With the new Universal Analytics, Google introduces features that change the way you collect and organize data. Google also enables you to improve data processing. And Google gives you more analysis tools. The upgrade enables you to gain a better understanding of how visitors to your website interact with your content.

There are many benefits you can have when you upgrade to Universal Analytics. These include:

  • Use of all the standard reports and tools available in the standard Google analytics plus the new features in Universal Analytics
  • A more flexible tracking code in three different versions, so you can collect data from any type of digital device; these three new versions are:
    1. Analytics.js JavaScript library for websites
    2. SDKs v2.x and higher for Android and iOS mobile application tracking
    3. Measurement protocol for other devices such as kiosks and game consoles
  • Cross domain tracking for websites that is simple and accurate
  • Developer-friendly collection methods so you can define and customize your tracking code, dimension and metrics that meet your unique business needs. These powerful tools allow you to collect and segment data that Google Analytics doesn’t automatically track. This includes product details, authors of content pages and levels in games.
  • Greater number of accessible configurations that are simplified so you don’t have to adjust your tracking code to make end modifications
  • Access to all future product upgrades

You can also control the following settings from the administration panel:

  • Organic search sources
  • Handling of campaign sessions and timeouts
  • Exclusions of search terms and referrals

Why You Should Upgrade Now

You can upgrade all of your classic Google Analytics properties into Universal Analytics properties. Google says when you upgrade to Universal Analytics you will not lose any data or changes to your account settings.

The time to upgrade to Universal Analytics is now. That’s because Google will soon begin to require all accounts to use Universal Analytics. Plus you’ll only receive product updates and new features if you have a Universal Analytics property that receives data from a Universal Analytics tracking code. You’ll no longer receive any product updates or access to new features from properties that receive data from a previous version of Google Analytics tracking code, such as ga.js JavaScript library.

If you currently use Google’s Classic Analytics, then there are only two steps for you to upgrade. Either way, you’ll need to go to the Universal Analytics Upgrade Centre to start now.

4 Phases in Upgrade Timeline

Google announced that there will be four phases involved with upgrading from Google Analytics to Universal Analytics. Yet Google has not announced exact dates for these phases.

Phase 1
The current phase, which is happening now, involves all properties that you can upgrade to Universal Analytics. Google is rolling this option to standard Google Analytics accounts. Once you see this option in the administration section of your account you’ll be able to start the upgrade process. Use the upgrade tool to transfer classic properties to Universal Analytics.

  • If you have a premium Google Analytics account you may not see this option until phase 3 rolls out.
  • If you have a property with the prefix YT/MO, you can transfer your data, but Google Analytics will not process it until phase 2.
  • Once your property transfer is finished, you can execute a version of Universal Analytics tracking code.
  • Universal Analytics will not support the dc.js JavaScript library during phase 1. You’ll have to wait until phase 3 to upgrade to Universal Analytics if you need the following features:
    1. Remarketing
    2. DoubleClick campaign manager reporting
    3. Google display network impression reporting
    4. Google Analytics demographics and interests reports

Phase 2
Google starts the auto-transfer to Google Analytics in phase 2. This includes the following properties:

  • Mobile App SDK implementations in versions earlier than v2.x
  • Properties that have WAP/server-side snippets or send data prefixed with YT / MO
  • All other non-ga.js (web) implementations
  • Web (ga.js) properties; this auto-transfer will continue through phase 3
Google will not send a notification to you prior to the auto transfer. You’ll see a status message on the tracking code page in your account regarding the progress of the upgrade to Universal Analytics.

You’ll be able to execute a version of the Universal Analytics tracking code when your property transfer is complete. However, Google will NOT auto transfer your property if it contains the dc.js JavaScript snippet and any related reporting or remarketing features until phase 3.

Phase 3
In phase 3, Google plans to have Google Analytics out of its beta stage. Universal Analytics will now support all features, including dc.js JavaScript. If you have a premium account or premium SLA, you’ll now be able to transfer your properties to Universal Analytics. In this phase you’ll only be able to get new properties ONLY if you have upgraded to Universal Analytics.

During this phase Google will expect you to complete the implementation of Universal Analytics tracking code; this includes:

  • analytics.js for websites
  • SDK v2.x or higher for Android and iOS for mobile apps
  • Measurement protocol for all other digital devices

Phase 4
By phase 4, Universal Analytics will be the operating standard for Google Analytics. Google expects that you have already upgraded Google Analytics properties to Universal Analytics. In this phase Google will remove the following features:

  • ga.js
  • YT / MO
  • WAP/server-side snippets
  • urchin.js
  • Custom variables
  • User-defined variables

You’ll have a minimum of two years to process any data collected from these deprecated features

How to Upgrade From Standard Google Analytics to Universal Analytics

There are two major steps to upgrade from Google Analytics to Universal Analytics.

Step 1: Set Up
You can set up a Universal Analytics property account in one of two ways. You can either upgrade an existing property to Universal Analytics or you can set up a new property.

You can upgrade if you already use Google Analytics and are willing to combine your historical data from Google Analytics with new data you collect through Universal Analytics. The upgrade process was highlighted earlier.

You should consider setting up a new property account if you’ve never used Google Analytics or if you want to collect data from a new website, mobile app or other type of digital device. You may also set up a new property account for a website that is set up with Google Analytics for which you want to keep data separate. In essence, you’d have two accounts, each with its own set of data.

Here is how you can set up a property according to Google:

  • Sign in to your Google Analytics account.
  • Click “Admin” in the menu bar at the top of the page.
  • Look for the “Account” column and select the account for which you want to add the property from the drop-down menu.
  • Then, click “Create new property” from the drop-down in the Property column
  • Select Website or Mobile app.
  • For only your website you must select a tracking method from either Universal Analytics or Classic Analytics.
  • Enter the Website or App Name. To help you stay organized, it is best to use a very specific and descriptive name that can include the edition or version number, especially if you plan to track more than one app in your account.
  • Enter your website URL for web only. This must be correct to create a property.
  • Now choose a category for your industry.
  • ·Next, select your reporting time zone. This time determines the boundary for your reports, regardless of where the data originates.

Click on the “Get Tracking ID” button. After you click on this and complete the above steps as Google instructs, your property will now exist. However, you must set up the tracking code to collect data. When clicking on the “Get Tracking ID” you’ll also receive your tracking code snippet. Just copy and paste this snippet on to every web page that you want to track.

Step 2: Implementation
Once you set up a Universal Analytics account, you can then implement the tracking code and customize for your technical environment. The issues involved may differ for new accounts versus upgrades.

If you are getting a new account, you’ll need to either set it up yourself or hire a professional to do it for you. You’ll need to be familiar with HTML to integrate the JavaScript in your code for your website. You’ll also need to download the appropriate SDK for a mobile app.

Here is how to set up the tracking code, but keep in mind there are different versions of the tracking code, so use the one that’s right for your environment:

  • For website content: You can complete this step if you are familiar with HTML. Developers should refer to Google analytics.js JavaScript Developer Guide for more details. Here is what you need to do according to Google:
    1. Sign in to Google Analytics, and click “Admin”.
    2. Select the property you’re working with from within the Account and Property columns. Then click Tracking Info/Tracking Code.
    3. You’ll find your snippet of JavaScript within a box. The snippet begins with < script> and ends with < / script>.
    4. Your tracking code contains a unique ID that is associated with your Google Analytics property. You must use the tracking code only for the associated property. Don’t mix up tracking code snippets from different properties. Also, don’t reuse this tracking code snippet on multiple domains.
    5. Copy the snippet, but do NOT edit it, and paste before the closing tag on every website page that you want to track.
    6. Check your set-up to make sure the tracking snippet you installed on your website matches the code the view shows.
    7. You can customize your tracking code to collect data that isn't tracked automatically by setting up event tracking. This feature lets you track rich media such as videos. Plus, you can track e-commerce by integrating any product or sales data with your other data.
    8. Developers can help you set up cross domain tracking and other more advanced options.
  • For mobile apps: Just download the SDK that's right for you. Use Google’s Developer Guides to learn how to integrate the SDK in your app. You can download the SDKs from the Tracking Info page in your account property or from Google’s Developer Guides.
  • For other digital devices: You can collect data from digital devices like information kiosks, game consoles or appliances. Just use the Measurement Protocol.

If you are upgrading, you’ll need to change the code you are using. You can do this by first going to the Universal Analytics Upgrade Centre to get the tracking code. When you complete the upgrade process, you’ll have a more powerful way to measure and analyze your website traffic. This can help you to improve your online marketing strategy and results.


Eric Wagner

While Eric now focuses on internet marketing, he also has a background in web development. He loves being among the first to find out about new tech—and better yet, being a part of making that tech succeed. Eric is known to be a good listener, seeking to understand how each individual sees the world. He is a harmonizer in group settings, cultivating unity while constructing the overall goal and strategy. When he’s not busy helping i7 clients dominate the online marketplace, Eric enjoys drone videography (he’s got a UAV pilot’s license), woodworking, community service, and all things outdoors.

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