Google Analytics is a mainstay for most websites and blogs. Google has slowly been transferring all of these accounts to its new property called Universal Analytics. Universal Analytics started out as a beta product for Google in October 2012. In March of last year it was opened to all users of Google Analytics. More recently, they have entered the phase where they will force all accounts to convert to the new standard.
This new platform was developed to better track the devices and digital touch points that have become so common. According to a post on the Google analytics blog last year, the following benefits are what users should get with Universal Analytics:
- Understanding how customers interact with your businesses across many devices and touch-points,
- Insights into the performance of your mobile apps,
- Improvements of lead generation and ROI by incorporating offline and online interactions so you can understand which channels drive the best results,
- Improved latency on your site by reducing client-side demands.
Mandatory Migration to Universal Analytics
If you haven't already switched to Universal Analytics you should get a message at the top of your Google analytics dashboard that looks like this.
Google Analytics has been slowly transferring accounts over to this new standard in phases. PHASE ONE was voluntary, with all properties being allowed to upgrade to Universal Analytics, with PHASE TWO began the auto transfer of certain accounts. PHASE THREE , is the current phase of Universal Analytics. It is out of its beta and all features are being supported, including DoubleClick and Remarketing. All new accounts will be on the Universal Analytics platform and all sites will eventually be auto transferred to the new standard. PHASE FOUR will start when all the properties have been upgraded into Universal Analytics. You can check to see if you've already been upgraded to Universal Analytics by clicking over to the Google website in reading this. You should see a message at the top of your admin menu that the capital universal capital analytics capital upgrade transfer is complete.
What this means for communicators is that we need to become conversant in this new standard and understand its implications and benefits. Google Analytics has published a developer's Guide for Universal Analytics and they have the upgrade link to get you started. I also like this article in Marketing Land by John Lincoln, “Complete Guide to Universal Analytics.” While it is a little old (written in PHASE TWO), it tells you how to turn on each new feature.
Benefits of Universal Analytics
Most of these new features are fairly advanced and will probably not be used by the majority of people in the short term. However. Universal Analytics is the new operating standard for Google Analytics and all product updates will be in this new platform. Here are the three most interesting benefits of the new system.
- Tie Multiple Devices to s Single User. Universal Analytics allows tracking of a Unique ID.The benefit of this feature is that the Unique ID can allow you to identify the activity of a single user across multiple devices. This gives you a more accurate count in your reports. This benefit requires a developer to set it up as your website needs to be able to assign Unique IDs, usually through some kind of login.
- Set up Custom Dimensions and Metrics. If you have unique features to your website that are not included in the current set of metrics for Google analytics, the new Universal Analytics can help you to measure these. Collect and segment data that Google Analytics doesn’t automatically track, like product details, levels in games, or authors of content pages. This requires set up on both the dashboard and in the code.
- Simplified and More Accessible Configuration Options. Universal analytics allows you to I adjust when a session times out (currently it is that it 30 minutes but I usually have 30 open tabs), it also allows you to exclude referrals from websites or search engines. You can add, delete, and reorder the list of recognized search engines to modify how organic search traffic is attributed in your account and how the data appears in your reports.
Google’s Learning Center
I also recommend that you take advantage of Google’s many free resources to learn more about analytics and be sure to subscribe to the YouTube Channel. Here are a few you should check out
- Analytics Academy: Here you can take one of three course: eCommerce Analytics, Google Analytics Platform Principles, Digital Analytics Fundamentals
- GA IQ Test: From here you can take one or more of the proof-of-proficiency tests offered by Google. Upon becoming individually qualified, you’ll receive a certificate.
- Analytics for Niche Fields: You will find a playlist of Analytics for Agencies and for Developers, among others, on the YouTube channel.