When making site-wide changes to your Google Analyt­ics track­ing codes, you are presented with an oppor­tu­nity to improve upon your current imple­men­ta­tion. However, if your imple­men­ta­tion is already optimal, you run the risk of making changes that may adversely affect your data collec­tion. To help with this tran­si­tion period, below are some items to take into account when upgrad­ing:

  • Proper docu­men­ta­tion — During your tran­si­tion from Classic Analyt­ics to Univer­sal Analyt­ics, you need to prop­erly docu­ment the changes in syntax, along with any modi­fi­ca­tions to the track­ing method­ol­ogy. As new features are added, and others become depre­cated, it is impor­tant to keep track of how data gets tracked and any changes or limi­ta­tions in track­ing that may arise.
  • Deprecated/migrated track­ing codes — With the update to Univer­sal Analyt­ics, several methods that were used in the ga.js version of Google Analyt­ics have been moved from track­ing code modi­fi­ca­tions to within the GA inter­face. As a ersult, there are no corre­spond­ing code modi­fi­ca­tions for these customiza­tions and will need to be made within the Admin inter­face. These changes currently include: — Session time­outs (_setSessionCookieTimeout)
  • Campaign time­outs (_setCampaignCookieTimeout)
  • Custom search engines (_addorganic)
  • Custom refer­ral exclu­sions (_addIgnoredRef)
  • Creation of custom dimen­sions (previ­ously custom vari­ables)
  • Updat­ing code prior to your prop­erty being updated — When updat­ing your track­ing code, it is impor­tant to remem­ber that this step must be completed after your prop­erty has been converted from Classic Analyt­ics to Univer­sal Analyt­ics. Updat­ing the code prior to complet­ing this first step will result in your GA prop­erty record­ing incor­rect data.
  • Not updat­ing code prior to depre­ca­tion
  • Google Analyt­ics allows for prop­er­ties to be updated without updat­ing your site code. However, this feature will not last forever. Accord­ing to Google Analyt­ics’ Univer­sal Analyt­ics Project Time­line, in the final phase, Phase 4, legacy JavaScript libraries will be depre­cated. This means that unless you have retagged your site with the Univer­sal Analyt­ics track­ing codes, or installed Airlock, by the time Phase 4 is reached your track­ing codes will no longer capture your site data. While you currently have time, waiting too long can put your analyt­ics data at risk if you don’t accu­rately plan for this manda­tory tran­si­tion.
  • Commu­ni­cate the upgrade to all team members — While this tran­si­tion is becom­ing more preva­lent to those famil­iar with Google Analyt­ics, the updates in syntax are still not widely known/understood by all analyt­ics prac­ti­tion­ers and devel­op­ment teams. When veri­fy­ing that GA track­ing codes are going live, it would be bene­fi­cial to double check that the updated syntax is used.
  • Compar­ing histor­i­cal and future data — Univer­sal Analyt­ics provides a more robust feature list, includ­ing multi-device track­ing. When compar­ing metrics from an updated Univer­sal Analyt­ics prop­erty to Classic Analyt­ics data, docu­ment and keep in mind any changes made to your track­ing code or account. Session timeout settings, campaign timeout settings, and refer­ral exclu­sions are three exam­ples of track­ing code modi­fi­ca­tions that were all previ­ously possi­ble, but are more present and easily avail­able for updat­ing within GA. When analyz­ing changes in visit level engage­ment metrics or traffic acqui­si­tion methods, these items are quick updates that can cause drastic changes to your data.