The migra­tion to Google’s new code base, Google Univer­sal Analyt­ics, is under­way offer­ing online marketers, busi­ness analysts, and product managers unprece­dented insights into online behav­iors. GA Univer­sal Analyt­ics completely replaces the tech­ni­cal aspects of how online data is collected within Google Analyt­ics. Univer­sal Analyt­ics brings new features and capa­bil­i­ties. This resource guide offers an overview of the differ­ences between the old code base and new, how to tran­si­tion from Classic GA to GA Univer­sal Analyt­ics corre­lat­ing offline activ­ity, mone­ti­za­tion strate­gies and much more.

What’s New?

The main new features of Univer­sal Analyt­ics are:

  • Manage Session and Timeout Settings

A session starts when a visitor comes to your site.  By default, sessions expire after thirty minutes of inac­tiv­ity.  With GA Univer­sal Analyt­ics, you can now set session expi­ra­tions to match your specific site settings.  Using this setting can help prevent under-count­ing of visi­tors who time out on your site and log back in to create a new session.  Sites that have heavy engage­ment can increase the session timeout setting to compen­sate for longer than average time on pages.

  • Imple­ment Refer­ral Exclu­sions

There are many valid reasons you may want to exclude traffic from certain domains from being counted as visits. Many busi­nesses do not want to count traffic from within their company in their analyt­ics.  Another major consid­er­a­tion is GA counts each link from a refer­rer as a new session.  This means if a visitor on your site goes to another domain (e.g. a third party shop­ping cart, a job listing, or a payment proces­sor like PayPal) and that domain sends the visitor back to your site, GA will count an addi­tional visit.  GA Univer­sal Analyt­ics allows you to exclude specific domains as refer­rers to prevent this type of double count­ing.

  • Create Custom Metrics and Dimen­sions

Metrics measure your data. They answer the ques­tion “how much”.  Dimen­sions are used to describe your data.  They answer “what you measur­ing”.  For example, a visit is a metric and a city is a dimen­sion.  One very power­ful feature of GA Univer­sal Analyt­ics is the ability to add custom metrics and dimen­sions to the ones that exist by default.  Ecom­merce sites can define product views as a metric and product cate­gory as a dimen­sion to track how many times a product was looked at in a specific cate­gory.

  • Synch Online and Offline Data

Another excit­ing feature of GA Univer­sal Analyt­ics is the ability to pull in data from disparate sources.  You can import CRM data (as long as it is not person­ally iden­ti­fi­able), POS data, survey data, or virtu­ally any other data source that you want to corre­late to your online activ­ity.  Setting up alter­nate sources can be quite a tech­ni­cal process, but Google provides some good docu­men­ta­tion at the Measure­ment Proto­col Devel­oper Guide and the Search Discovery Digital Analyt­ics Team is made of indus­try leaders in setting up custom scripts to pull data into your analyt­ics plat­form.

How to Get Universal Analytics

Search Discovery’s team has created a complete guide on how to “Switch to Univer­sal Analyt­ics  It covers moving the Classic GA base code (ga.js) to GA Univer­sal Analyt­ics (analytics.js), and many other factors that busi­nesses need to consider.  You may also visit Google’s Upgrade Center on convert­ing from Classic GA to GA Univer­sal Analyt­ics. Within these guides, we outline many of the tasks required to making the switch. For more infor­ma­tion about how Search Discovery can help you take advan­tage of Univer­sal Analyt­ics, fill out our request form and we will be happy to share our exper­tise.

For those that are looking to take advan­tage of some of the new features of Univer­sal Analyt­ics, but are not ready to retag their site, Search Discovery has a free JavaScript tool called Airlock that will auto­mat­i­cally convert your page tags for you.  Airlock gives you the ability to start taking advan­tage of GA Univer­sal Analyt­ics while phasing in all the tags that will have to be upgraded.

Time to Take Flight

Upgrad­ing to GA Univer­sal Analyt­ics gives you access to a new wealth of infor­ma­tion from which your busi­ness can make informed, data driven deci­sions.  Moving to GA Univer­sal Analyt­ics is not a ques­tion of if – but more of when – as even­tu­ally all GA accounts will be required to be Univer­sal Analyt­ics.  Advise your devel­op­ment team to start plan­ning now because as with any major upgrade, having the neces­sary support and plan­ning will be the differ­ence between a success­ful or failed mission.  Take advan­tage of the ample resources avail­able from Google and contact us if you need assis­tance with your upgrade.