Is it time to graduate to Google Universal Analytics?

Google Universal Analytics is a newer version of Google Analytics which has established newer standards for how user data is collected and organised. Unveiled to the world in 2012, Google Universal Analytics offers new tracking codes for websites and features which measure user behavior with greater accuracy. Just like other commonly used Analytics tag, Google Universal Analytics uses tags to track metrics, but with greater customization. Regular users now have access to those configuration options which were only available to developers, prior to its launch, which provides an enhanced ability to refine the data you collect. You can now obtain detailed metrics from other platforms too, which means that you don’t have to worry about user experience on mobile devices or tablets anymore.

Here are the key variations between Google Classic Analytics and Google Universal Analytics which will help you to make a call:

Collection and Integration of Data

  • Google Universal Analytics provides more ways to collect and integrate different types of data than Google Classic Analytics
  • Unlike Google Classic Analytics, Google Universal Analytics allows you to integrate data across multiple devices and platforms.
  • As a result, Google Universal Analytics provides a better understanding of the relationship between the offline and online marketing channels, which drive sales and conversions, when compared to Google Classic Analytics.

  • JavaScript Library

  • Universal Analytics uses the ‘analytics.js’ library while Google Classic Analytics makes use of the ‘ga.js’ JavaScript library.
  • Though these libraries are similar, ‘analytics.js’ provides newer features which can be used for collecting and integrating data.Here is sample tag implementation for Google Classic and Google Universal tracking code
  • Classic Vs Universal Tracking Code

  • Also available in the Google Universal Analytics is a new library – ‘gtag.js’. This allows you to send event data to Google Ads, Campaign Manager, Display & Video 360, Search Ads 360, and Google Analytics. Instead of having to manage multiple tags for different products, you can use gtag.js and more easily benefit from the latest tracking features and integrations as they become available. Here is sample tag implementation for new script
  • gtag tracking code

    Data Processing

  • Data processing in Google Universal Analytics is visitor based, rather than session based, which is the case with Google Classic Analytics.
  • Google Universal Analytics is therefore more visitor centric, and this helps in avoiding errors in page views, and consequently in the metrics of your website.

  • Processing of Referrals

  • In Google Universal Analytics, all referrals trigger a new web session by default.
  • This affects the total number of web sessions in the analytics report.

  • Custom Dimensions and Metrics

  • With Google Universal Analytics, you can customize your own dimensions and metrics to collect only the type of data which benefits you. Google Classic Analytics on the other hand does not allow you to create custom dimensions and custom metrics.
  • Using custom dimensions, you can import additional data into your analytics account.

  • Cookies

  • Cookies are text files which track and store user information such as their preferences and their browsing behavior.
  • While Google Classic Analytics requires up to seven cookies to track and store user data, Google Universal Analytics requires only two.

  • Server-Side Configuration Settings

  • Google Universal Analytics allows you to change the following server-side configuration settings using your account admin panel:
    • Exclude search terms
    • Exclude referral traffic sources
    • Add or remove search engines
    • Change session timeout
    • Change campaign timeout
  • Google Classic Analytics, on the other hand, requires you to add special tracking codes on each and every page of your website to change the above-mentioned side server configurations.
  • Google Universal Analytics makes things easier by providing user friendly controls in the admin panel of the account. This negates the need for any editing and the tedious editing of tracking codes on every page of the website.

  • E-Commerce Tracking

  • Universal Analytics provides advanced e-commerce tracking, which is better known as ‘Enhanced E-Commerce’.
  • This facility provides more ways to collect and analyse e-commerce data than the traditional methods of e-commerce tracking, and therefore gives deeper insight into user engagement.
  • This also provides twice as many reports on the user’s e-commerce tracking than the traditional tracking methods.
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