Universal Analytics: Now out of beta!

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We’ve been talking about Universal Analytics for a long time – over a year. In that time Universal has always been in beta because it was not 100% compatible with the existing version of GA. Sure, various parts of the Universal platform have rolled out, like the Measurement Protocol and Dimension Widening, but we were missing things like Remarketing and Audience data. But no more :)

I’m excited to say that as of today, April 2, 2014, Universal Analytics is out of beta!

Universal Analytics: The next generation of Google Analytics

Let’s run through everything you need to know about the announcement.

100% Feature Compatibility

Universal Analytics now supports all standard Google Analytics features. This includes:

Remarketing with Google Analytics. This is one of my favorite analytics features – and it made me very sad that Universal Analytics did not support it. But that’s in the past – You can now use the remarketing feature with Universal Analytics.

Audience reporting. The audience reports are an awesome way to understand who is using your site. They include data like gender and interest categories. This can be incredible helpful when trying to understand if the correct audience is using your site. Now you can use this feature with Universal Analytics.

Premium SLA Support. For all of those using Google Analytics Premium, all of your standard SLAs now apply to Universal Analytics. This includes data collection, data processing, etc.

Full Google Tag Manager support. Google Tag Manager now fully supports all Universal Analytics features, this includes audience data and the new User ID feature (discussed below).

I’ve said it many, many times – I’m a big fan of tag management. If you are going to migrate to Universal Analytics you might as well migrate to Tag Manager (or any tag management solution) now!

Universal Analytics is Google Analytics – and vice versa. Everything that Google Analytics can do, Universal Analytics can do – and more :)

Cross Device Measurement

In addition to complete feature compatibility, cross device measurement, via the User-ID feature, is now available.

The User-ID feature let's you measure the user journey across multiple devices - and even in stores.

The User-ID feature let’s you measure the user journey across multiple devices – and even in stores.

As you recall, this feature lets businesses use their own User-ID to measure customers across multiple devices. This feature includes some awesome reports to help businesses understand which devices and behaviors generate value. Here’s a quick overview:

Device Overlap: This report can help you identify what types of devices your users use to access your service or content.

The Device Overlap report shows what percentage of users access your content from multiple devices.

The Device Overlap report

Device Paths: This report will show the last five devices that were used prior to a conversion. It’s a bit like the Multi-Channel Funnels report – but for devices.

The Device Path report shows the last five devices that were used prior to a conversion.

The Device Path report

Acquisition Device: This report shows revenue based on the device that generated the first conversion. It’s can help you understand if users on a certain device have a larger impact on revenue.

The Acquisition Device Report.

The Acquisition Device Report

Understanding cross device measurement, and implementing it correct, is a huge topic – way more than I can cover in one post. I’ll be publishing a few other articles that explain cross device measurement in Google Analytics ASAP.

Time-zone Based Processing

In addition to the above features, there’s one more piece that is rolling out today. Google Analytics users can now specify the time-zone where their data is processed. In the past all data was processed in the Pacific Timezone (because that’s there Google is).

But now data processing will occur in the time zone of each data view.

The time zone setting in a view now controls when your data is processed.

The time zone setting for a view now controls when your data is processed.

While most people will not notice a big difference, this is a HUGE improvement for many users in Australia, Japan and other parts of Asia.

This also means that, for some users, automated daily reports will arrive on the correct day!

Do you need to migrate?

Ok, so that’s a brief overview of what’s happening today. But the big question that everyone will ask is, “do I need to migrate to Universal Analytics?”

No, you do not need to migrate to Universal Analytics – at least not now.

However, you need to start planning to migrate.

Universal Analytics is the new platform – all new features will be developed for UA. So if you want to use the new shiny things in the future you need to be on UA.

But migrating t can be a lot of work depending on your specific measurement plan. I’ll address that in another post.

Ok, that’s it for this post. But there is a lot more on Universal Analytics coming.

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    1. says

      Awesome, now there is no reason not to upgrade!

      And I’m looking forward with playing with the new measurement protocol additions.

    2. says

      Finally Universal Analytics is out of beta. I’ve used the traditional Google Analytics code often on many websites because the Universal Analytics code didn’t support remarketing via Google Analytics. Now, I finally can benefit of all the Universal Analytics features ánd using the remarketing feature in Google Analytics.

    3. Rostislav says

      I’ve using GA Universal for more than year already from the time, it was in closed beta testing. Everything works well. But I’m personally prefer to track data using 2 GA: Universal and Classic, because cross device tracking overrides original customer acquisition sources. For example: customer visits your webapp from one search engine then add your rss into reader and he/she reads your article during traveling to work by train. So the original acquisitions channel were changed. I can’t say it’s a large percent, but my observations shows around 10-15% sources overriding in multi devices tracking. In this case to investigate pure acquisition, I prefer to use GA Classic, but for understanding how people interact with your app, GA Universal is rocks!

      • says

        @Rostislav: Thanks for that feedback – it’s very helpful. Did you try setting up two separate views – one User-ID view and one standard view? The standard view should always maintain the original source in the Multi-Channel Funnels report. By the way – I’ve got a few posts on User-ID, I’m just waiting a day or so to post them.

    4. Daniel Ford says

      Looks great and really interesting with the User ID. Could hits with the same User ID be sent from offline activities? And what “device” would that then be shown as?
      Showing cross-“device” attribution including offline activities would be interesting! :-D

    5. Frank says

      Great news! Justin, you wrote, that Google Tag Manager now fully supports all Universal Analytics features – do I have to enable remarketing in the tag as I don’t see any option for that or ist that configured in the Google Analytics admin section only? And how to set the user id in GTM? Simply as one of the fields?

    6. Sarah says

      Yeay, finally!

      However, I still can’t find the option to enable display features (for the audience reporting) in Google Tag Manager for the Universal Analytics tag. Is this currently being rolled out?

    7. says

      You mention Remarketing and Audience reports are available for Universal Analytics, though GTM.
      I still don’t see the ‘Enable Display Advertising Features’ check box when using a Universal Analytics page view tracking tag. Is there a different way of setting this up?

    8. says

      Hello Justin,
      That’s really great news! I was wondering about Content Experiments support. Does the Universal Analytics supports content experiments now?


    9. says

      Thanks for sharing this Justin, one side question, when you have a chance, could you explain little bit more detailed how cross device measurement works behind scenes, I understand that this feature lets businesses use their own User-ID to measure customers across multiple devices, but how does this works, does the user need to sign in at any stage in order to be identified as unique user using different devices?

      Thanks again

      • says

        @Oscar: The user needs to authenticate with your systems so you can pass the value that your company uses for a User ID into Google Analytics. The system has nothing to do with signing into Google – it’s all about signing into your system and then having your system pass the User ID to Google Analytics. Hope that helps!

    10. Azucena says

      Good news here!!! =)

      I am trying to enable demographic and interest reports in my universal implementation, using Google Tag Manager of course :) and I am not being able to figure out where to tick that little box
      Enable Display Advertising Features

      Is this feature in GTM has also been released!?


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