5 Takeaways From Google’s Universal Analytics Announcement

Marketing Intelligence 18th, Jul 2013


Google is rolling out a new free tool called Universal Analytics. Universal Analytics replaces the older analytics on all new Google websites, and can be easily added to old websites. Universal Analytics’ selling point is the ability to track a huge variety of data from any platform imaginable. By processing data like usernames, phone calls, and purchasing history, Universal Analytics can compile reports on each individual customer.

1. Universal Analytics is a game-changer

We have already seen some very exciting uses of Universal Analytics, from creating in-depth portraits of each customer to running promotional games to even tracking employee caffeine consumption. We are still in very early days.

Universal Analytics can, in theory, process any kind of data from any kind of data collector connected to the internet. The possibilities for new marketing metrics and strategies are mind-boggling.

2. The future is multi-device

Well, okay, we all already knew that. However, it is good to see Analytics acknowledging it too.  Universal Analytics is the most cross-platform free software yet released. It allows for advanced data collection from not only PCs and smartphones, but also game consoles, fob keys, internet-enabled car computers, and more.

3. Large websites will benefit more than small websites.

Universal Analytics is exciting because it can gather and process a much larger set of data than the original Google Analytics. However, you still have to put in the work to get that data in the first place.

The first hurdle to getting the most out of Analytics is that your website needs to give users a reason to sign-in. This is necessary because username sign-in is the only way to successfully track users across different devices. However, smaller websites may not be able to offer enough to convince users to sign in when they visit.

Other data collection methods are similarly easier for large websites. Being able to send in data about customer’s personalities, demographics, and purchases is great, but it requires a lot of effort to set up.

4. More user-friendly

The old Analytics had a few features that were rarely used, because they had to be added by developers in the code instead of by marketers through Analytics. The new Universal Analytics gets around this by including these features in the Admin tab.

Among the included features of the Admin tab are:

  • Customized organic search sources. Using this feature, you can modify how organic search traffic is measured and reported by your account.
  • Session and campaign timeouts. By default, sessions end after 30 minutes and campaigns end after 6 months. You can edit this to make it longer or shorter, depending on your needs.
  • Referral exclusions.  You can prevent some domains from being logged as referring traffic.
  • Search term exclusions.  You can prevent certain search terms from being logged as referring traffic.

5. Data streams still can’t be merged

An issue that came early up in the Universal Analytics Beta is that there is no automated way to import the data from old Analytics into Universal Analytics. That issue still has not been solved.

Therefore, the only way to keep all your old data is to add Universal Analytics to your website and run it alongside your old Analytics. This is not ideal, but oh well, Google has promised to fix it at an indefinite point in the future.

By: Steve Toth

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