The web is always evolving, so naturally there is a time when tracking what happens on the web takes an evolutionary step.  If you’re using standard features within your Google Analytics account then the time to upgrade is now!  After all, when is there a better time than the turn of the New Year to enhance your data collection?

Without getting too technical, the fundamental nature of the upgrade is to provide simplified and more configurable data collection-which means updating the JavaScript on your web site that does the tracking.  As always, Google provides the JavaScript tracking code, so it is simply a matter of locating and replacing what you already have included in your site and transitioning your account with a few button clicks.

The new analytics.js (JavaScript) code provides benefits such as enabling you to track any digital device, simpler and more accurate cross domain tracking, more accessible configuration options in the admin panel, new reporting features, and the big onecustom dimensions and custom metrics.  It is also worth mentioning that the new analytics will continue to receive new features and updates, and the old product will not.  The best part is Google Analytics continues to be a free product which makes it perfect for your association or non-profit.

The transition has been divided by Google into 4 phases and Phase 1 is currently in progress.  Dates have not yet been provided for the remaining phases.  This phase is considered a beta and it’s open to anyone who’s not using the following features: A) Remarketing, B) Google Display Network Impression Reporting,  C) DoubleClick Campaign Manager Reporting,  D) Google Analytics Demographics and Interests Reports.  The second phase will begin the auto-transfer of some properties.  Phase 3 marks the time when the new Universal Analytics will be out of beta, and all new properties must use the new system.  In this phase anyone with any feature can safely upgrade.  For the last phase, Universal Analytics becomes the new operating standard and the old collection methodology will be disabled.

It only takes 30 minutes or less to upgrade your association’s account and apply the new tracking code (not counting the 24-48 hour period the account is being converted by Google).  Here are the steps to upgrade:

  1. Login into your account and navigate to the Admin module.
  2. Select the property you want to upgrade and click on the “Transfer not started” link to begin.
  3. You will receive a message with a link to the Universal Analytics Upgrade Center containing helpful information about the features and steps involved.  Click on transfer to continue.
  4. This is the final confirmation page warning that certain features mentioned earlier are not yet supported.  Note: once the transfer is started it cannot be reverted.
  5. After the account upgrade is complete, you will receive a notification in the Admin area confirming that the transfer was successfully completed.  Now you can get the new tracking code and put it onto your site(s).  Note: All sites and their administration will differ, however there will typically be one location per web site where the substitution should be made.
  6. Now, the transfer is complete and collecting data using the new tracking code.  Congratulations!

In a future blog post we will explore new features in more detail after your association has some time to implement and collect data into the new account.  In the meantime, happy analyzing and Happy New Year!