Overview & Benefits

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.

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