18 August 2014

4 Reasons to migrate Classic Google Analytics to Universal Analytics

4 Reasons to migrate Classic Google Analytics to Universal Analytics
By Joy


Google’s Universal Analytics out of beta release and you should upgrade from Classic to Universal Analytics code. It’s been in public Beta since March 2013 but now Google is soon going to enforce the upgrading of Classic Google Analytics to Universal Analytics in imminent days. Know what extra features you will get by upgrading to Universal Analytics & how it is done.

Should You Consider this Upgrade?

With two years still remaining for Classic Google Analytics to retire, there is no compulsion as such to upgrade to Universal Analytics but the biggest advantage is that you can start taking the benefit of new features of this new Analytics as soon as you will do the upgrade.

Moreover, the time is not so far when Google will start rolling out new improvements for Universal Analytics only. It means if a new feature is launched, you can use it only if you have upgraded to Universal Analytics. The time has come for implementing smarter web analytics using Universal Analytics. Besides the advantages I have listed above, there are some other important benefits for upgrading to Universal Analytics that cannot be ignored when we are learning how to upgrade this new version.

Understanding these benefits will help you in drawing a clear conclusion of what this latest Universal Analytics has in its store for you if you choose to implement this version over your classic Google Analytics.

Benefits of Upgrading to Universal Analytics

Universal Analytics provides you access to increase data processing, more analytics tools, and advanced collection methods. After completing the upgrade process, you will get the following benefits:

Connect multiple devices, sessions, and engagement data with a User ID

Being an integral feature of this latest upgrade, the User ID can be used for associating multiple sessions with a unique ID. With this new feature, you can get more precise user count, access to the latest Cross Device Report, and evaluate the signed-in user experience as well.

Access more flexible data collection methods for tracking digital devices

Universal Analytics is bundled with three new data collection methods that are flexible enough to let you tailor your executions to meet specific requirements. The three data collection methods are: 

  • Analytics.js.Javascript library: It is used for data collection of websites
  • Mobile SDKs v2.x: It is used for data collection for Android and iOS
  • Measurement protocol: It is used for data collection for multiple devices including information kiosks and game consoles.

All these three methods are user friendly to help you in implementation and customization of tracking code conveniently.

Simplified and accessible configuration points

This novel upgrade comes with simplified configuration points to let you make the modifications without adjusting the tracking code. You can control numerous settings through Admin panel, which are listed as follows:

  • Session and campaign timeout handling
  • Organic search sources
  • Search term exclusions
  • Referral exclusions

Integrated with enhanced ecommerce reports

By deploying Universal Analytics, you can use the enhanced ecommerce reports for analyzing the shopping and purchasing behavior of users, measuring economic performance of your products, and evaluating success of your internal and external marketing efforts.

Create custom dimensions and custom metrics for collecting unique data

Upgrading to Universal Analytics gives you the authorization to customize the default dimensions and metrics as per your specific needs. You can easily use these powerful tools for collecting and segmenting data that are unique to your business. You can see how the upgrade to Universal Analytics will prove beneficial for the advanced status tracking of your online business. I will explain you how to upgrade your Classic Google Analytics to Universal Analytics manually by performing these simple steps.

1. How to Move Your Property to Universal Analytics

The first step for upgrading your Google Analytics is to move your property (your website’s GA profile) over to the Universal Analytics. This process requires moving your website’s Google Analytics profile to the Universal Analytics. You can search this option in the admin of GA and this option is available there only if you have not changed your GA profile yet. Google might launch a new method for transferring all your old data into the latest Universal Analytics properties but at present, it is recommended to use both versions of tracking code. The steps for moving your property to Universal Analytics are listed as follows: 1. Login to your Google Analytics account and click Admin button located on the top right. 2. In the Admin page, select account and property, which you need to upgrade. 3. Click Universal Analytics Upgrade in the property column. 4. Click Transfer in the section “Transfer to Google Analytics”. 5. Click Show timeout settings to configure your session and campaign timeout handling. (Optional)

Note: If you don’t configure the settings, default values will be used.   6) The transfer takes 24.48 hours to complete. When a note “Property transfer complete” displays in your account, the transfer to the new Universal Analytics is completed.


2. How to Upgrade Your Code without Custom Variables?

It might take 48 hours to upgrade your account to the Universal Analytics but it won’t work unless you update your code. However, during upgrade process no data will be lost and you can enjoy using the old tracking code even after upgrading your property. To upgrade the code without custom variables, you have to add the old tracking code to the header.php file. For better accuracy, you can create a child theme-based header.php to avoid overwriting during the upgrade. You can also use a Code Insert plugin instead of creating a child-theme basedheader.php. The code that you will add to the header.php is available in the admin of GA because it is a default tracking code.


If you want to add Demographic & Interests, you have to add some extra code and for doing so, you have to enable the Demographics and Interests reports first.


After enabling the Demographics & Interests Report, add the extra line of code for its proper functioning, as shown below:

ga(‘require’, ‘displayfeatures’); After the addition of code, it will look like this:


You can check if your code is implemented properly by checking the GA real-time statistics.


Note: You must clear your website cache’s to get the accurate results. Now, you can head over to the Demographics & Interests reports section for validating this code as shown below:


Note: If the validation message displays that you have not installed the code properly then you can click on Skip validation but in most cases, it will start functioning properly.

3. How to Upgrade Your Custom Variables?

We have already discussed about the custom metrics and dimensions, which is a unique feature of the latest Universal Analytics but if you really want to take privilege of these customized variables, then you have upgrade your code to make it work accurately. This could be considered as the most ideal way of confirming whether you have upgraded to Universal Analytics or not because these features are attributed to this new upgrade only. You can search for the custom variables under the “Property” column in the Admin area, as shown in the figure below:


You can add the code for custom dimensions and custom metrics very easily as Google Analytics provides you with sample code but there are some other options also available for adding these codes.


Once deployed, the Dimensions and Metrics let you measure anything which Google Analytics is not tracking and you can also connect the offline transactions with online origin for utilizing these advanced variables. Note: After upgrading your GA profile, you can find the custom variables still working as long as you use the old code but once you start using the Universal Analytics code, you have to add the code for custom dimensions and custom metrics right away or the custom variables will stop functioning.

4. How to Present a Nice Custom Report?

Once you have deployed the custom dimensions and custom metrics correctly, you can present a nice custom report (present under customization) by combining the custom data with the default metrics from GA itself.


After combining the entire data with your custom report, you can get the report in a clear and impressive format.


Final Note

After reading this article, you must have concluded how Universal Analytics opens up new opportunities for effective analysis, data collection, and eventually in offering insights for helping your business grow and accomplish its goals. If you are using Google Analytics since a long time, you can switch to this new upgrade to explore the bunch of advanced features incorporated with it and to merge it with your plans and budget for 2014.

By Joy

Jyoti Mali is the Head of Digital Marketing at TIS India, a Digital Marketing agency in India focused on SEO, digital analytics, online advertising, CRO, web design & development. She leads strategy for multi-channel digital advertising for in-house accounts & agencies globally. Being a Google Analytics Certified (IQ) Professional & Ecommerce Analytics Qualified Consultant, she loves playing with Analytics & helping clients with actionable insights.

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