The Blog

Getting Your Data Ready for the Move to Universal Analytics

Since my previous article on making the leap to Universal Analytics, Google has introduced a tool that makes it even easier to transition your existing Google Analytics web properties to the next version. Using the Universal Analytics Upgrade tool is the first step in the migration of your data from the ‘classic’ version of Google Analytics and ensure its compatibility with Universal Analytics without forcing you to change your analytics tracking code immediately.

Though you can leave your tracking code as-is and maintain your current tracking, in order to take advantage of the new features of Universal Analytics, you will need to upgrade your on-page analytics tracking code to the new ‘analytics.js’ version. These features include custom dimensions and metrics, simplified and improved cross-domain tracking, and improved CRM integration.

Also, as mentioned in the previous article, DoubleClick, remarketing, display advertising, AdSense, and content experiments are not yet available in Universal Analytics. Before attempting the upgrade, ensure these features are not currently in use with your analytics.

How Does it Work?

  1. Before you begin upgrading your web properties to Universal Analytics, you will need to have ‘Edit’ permissions for that web property.
  2. Click the ‘Admin’ button on the top right-hand corner of the Google Analytics interface, just below your Google Account e-mail address.
  3. Upon reaching the main administration page, find the ‘property’ heading and choose the account you would like to move over to Universal Analytics from the dropdown menu just below the heading. Just below this dropdown menu, you will find the ‘Universal Analytics Upgrade’ link. If the text below the Universal Analytics Upgrade link reads ‘transfer not started’ in blue, go ahead and click the link to begin the upgrade process. 
  4. All that remains is to click the blue ‘Transfer’ button shown in this image. The transfer will take 24-48 hours to complete, and it is highly recommended that you do not make any changes to your tracking code until the process is complete, even if you were planning to do so immediately. 

When Should I Install the New Tracking Code?

Here is an updated decision tree related to our previous blog post that takes into account the transition process described above:

  1. Do you use Urchin Analytics? (urchin.js)
    • No: See question #2.
    • Yes: Begin preparing to upgrade to Universal Analytics. If your stakeholders rely heavily on the data in Google Analytics, we recommend you set up a new web property for Universal Analytics and deploy a copy of your implementation with Universal Analytics and run both concurrently for a period of time, to set a baseline for data differences between the Urchin code and Universal Analytics. Once you are satisfied with your Universal Analytics implementation and have set baselines on the data differences, migrate your primary web property to Universal Analytics by removing the Urchin code and updating the web property ID of your Universal Analytics implementation to send data to your primary web property.
  2. Do you use either the Traditional/Synchronous or the Asynchronous versions of Google Analytics? (ga.js)
    • No: See question #3
    • Yes: Are you currently using, or do you have an immediate need for any of the following features?
      • AdSense
      • Content Experiments
        • Yes: Universal Analytics does not yet support these features. If you would like to begin using Universal Analytics, we recommend that you maintain your existing implementation and setup a new Web Property for Universal Analytics and deploy a copy of your implementation with Universal Analytics. This will prepare you for performing the migration in the future, and will allow you to set a baseline for data differences between your current code and Universal Analytics.
        • No: Begin preparing to upgrade to Universal Analytics. If your stakeholders rely heavily on the data in Google Analytics, we recommend you setup a new web property for Universal Analytics and deploy a copy of your implementation with Universal Analytics and run both concurrently for a period to set a baseline for data differences between your current Google Analytics code and Universal Analytics. Once you are satisfied with your Universal Analytics implementation and have set baselines on the data differences, migrate your primary web property to Universal Analytics by removing the synchronous code and updating the web property ID of your Universal Analytics implementation to send data to your primary web property.
  3. Do you use the display advertising version of Google Analytics? (dc.js)
    • No: See question #4.
    • Yes: Display advertising features are not currently supported by Universal Analytics, so maintain your existing installation, and setup a new web property for Universal Analytics and deploy a copy of your implementation with Universal Analytics to prepare for a future migration and to set a baseline for data differences between the Google Analytics display code and Universal Analytics. You may also consider consulting Cardinal Path about our “hot-swapping” customization to alleviate difficulties posed by visitors with ad-blockers set up.

    Once these features are available for Universal Analytics, you should begin preparing to upgrade to Universal Analytics. Setup a new web property for Universal Analytics and deploy a copy of your implementation with Universal Analytics. Run both concurrently for a period to set a baseline for data differences between the display advertising code and Universal Analytics. Once you are satisfied with your Universal Analytics implementation and have set baselines on the data differences, migrate your primary web property to Universal Analytics by removing the display advertising code and updating the web property ID of your Universal Analytics implementation to send data to your primary web property.

  4. Do you use Universal Analytics? (analytics.js)
    • No: You’re not using Google Analytics in any way, shape, or form? Contact us for a free white paper describing Google Analytics and the advantages of using it for digital data collection and analysis.
    • Yes: Excellent. You’re up to date and ready for all the great new features that Google is preparing.

Let’s Do This!

When you’re ready to make the change over to Universal Analytics, make sure you transition your data first using the four steps listed above, add the tracking code using the steps in my previous article once the process has completed, then remove the old Google Analytics tracking code.

Once you’ve made the full transition, you’ll be ready to take advantage of all of the extremely useful features that Universal Analytics has to offer the busy web analyst. Happy analyzing! May your insights always be like wizards: never late, and arriving exactly when they’re needed.

  • Tracy Thomas

    What else should companies who are using GAS (Google Analytics on Steroids) consider when migrating to Universal Analytics?

    • Jordan Louis

      Google Analytics on Steroids is not currently compatible with Universal Analytics. I would suggest that companies currently using GAS follow the decision tree chain pertaining to users of GA remarketing features and DoubleClick.

      I am not able to comment further on Cardinal Path’s plans with regard to GAS and Universal Analytics at this time, except to say that Google Tag Manager, when used with Universal Analytics, will very likely replicate much of the functionality currently available in GAS.

  • Nathan

    I recently tried to use UA, but it would not work with Event Tracking….

  • Cédric Kocher

    Is it possible to implement the Google Universal code without ask the transfer please? Do you think it will work correctly please? To sum up my situation, I want to update all my main and subdomains but I have not access to the Analytics accounts to make the transfer. I can only change the Analytics code.

    Thank you

    • Jordan Louis

      I’m afraid you’ll need access to the Analytics account in order to transfer the data, or to tell whoever has access to the account how to transfer the data.

      This will eventually be done automatically once Google starts transitioning everyone to UA, but for now, it’s a manual process.

      You can technically just go ahead and change the code, but there’s no guarantee that your data will be safe or accurate once you do. And if your data isn’t accurate anymore, there’s no point to tracking at all.

  • Juan David

    Hi Jordan,

    Wondering what happens for organizations using Urchin (software and js code) looking into using Universal (software and js code). Would having both tracking codes concurrently screw data (as it used to happen having urchin.js and ga.js on the same page)?

    Thanks

Copyright © 2014, All Rights Reserved. Privacy and Copyright Policies.