Update on Google’s Universal Analytics

Senior Digital Analyst
Published 4/17/14
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After months of mystery and checking Google’s blog for updates, Google's Universal Analytics is out of beta! In February, we told you about Google's Universal Analytics, the next iteration of its analytics platform. Back then, Universal Analytics was still in beta, or Phase 1 of its four-phase rollout, when properties were able to upgrade to Universal Analytics but that much of its functionality would not, well, be functional until Phase 3.

Well, it is officially Phase 3. UA is out of beta and the majority of its features are functional, as well as the demographics/interests reports.

What about Phase 2, you ask? Phase 2 is called the Auto-Transfer process, when Google begins automatically transferring over older, non-ga.js web implementations. Phase 2 already started, apparently, continues during Phase 3 and includes ga.js properties.

Preparing for the upgrade/upgrading soon will save site owners from having to scramble later

Phase 4 is when all properties/accounts will be moved and the ga.js code we use now will be deprecated. Short-word version: Google is going ahead and transferring over Google Analytics accounts to Universal Analytics. No, they're not notifying account owners ahead of this process. So preparing for the upgrade/upgrading soon will save site owners from having to scramble later and allows them the ability to take advantage of the awesome new features.

The process to upgrade to Universal Analytics hasn't changed. Site owners—and those with edit preferences in Google Analytics—can start the process in the account admin itself, then update the code on their individual sites. No historical data will be lost, Google says, and will be included in the same account, even if the historical data was processed by the soon-to-be deprecated ga.js code.

However, beginning the upgrade process in the admin is only the first step. Updating the code on your site to the new analytics.js library is the critical second step. This move allows your site analytics to be processed in Universal Analytics. Without updating your code, your data will not be processed correctly, and then, at some point, will stop being processed at all when Google deprecates the current analytics platform. Also, the more custom Google Analytics code on your site, the longer this will take to upgrade, and you’ll definitely want to proof it extra carefully to make sure all snippets of code are updated.

This is a good time to think about using Google Tag Manager to make upgrades and other analytics and tag implementation much easier In case anyone's curious, no, no one knew when Google was going to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2 or Phase 3; they posted it to their blog a week or so ago. I find if I check their blog eight times a day, every day, on weekends and holidays, even the middle of the night, I can just keep up with their changes. Well, not really. But we try. So, stay tuned for updates and details on the upgrading to UA process.

(Update: Check out our latest blog post on the upgrade process and related challenges here.) For more information, please take a look at Google’s FAQ.