Universal Analytics is an advanced and sophisticated way of data collection and organization in google analytics reports. It is the best way( for small business, who can’t afford Google Premium) to get meaning full insights into how visitor engage with your various properties like web sites, mobile apps and other digital devices like information kiosks, gaming kiosks, and Bank ATMs, Ticketing Kiosks. etc., Check out 5 Universal Analytics features compared to Classic Analytics.

Universal Analytics Features

Universal Analytics

Universal analytics comes to you in 3 new versions catered to needs of web properties, mobile and any digital devices with which customers interact.

1.  Analytics.js – javascript library is improved version of ga.js, to be used to configure GATC for web properties i.e websites.

2. Google Analytics SDKs for Mobile Aps

3. Measurement Protocol for Degital devices.

5 Universal Analytics features are :


1 .Easy to use Admin panel for basic configurations

The Admin panel of Universal Analytics account gives you very simplified way of configuring the following at Property level:

A. Organic Search Sources

B. Session and campaign timeout

C. Referral Exclusions

D. Search Term Exclusions Universal Analytics Admin Panel

Universal Analytics Admin Panel with basic Configuration

A . Organic Search Sources

1. Analytics automatically recognizes traffic from 40 search engines, which are listed as default search engines by Google. Traffic from default search engines are attributed as organic search traffic. Traffic from other than these 40 search engines, for example: duckduckgo.com etc., are attributed as referral traffic.

2. We can add other search engines to list of default search engine to configure Google Analytics to recognize and attribute them as organic search traffic .

3.We can also modify the order in which search engines to be attributed based on their contribution/participation in driving traffic to your website. This feature helps to implement the right attribution for various search engines, which assist in driving traffic either as first or last search engines in bringing valuable conversions to your website. Traffic from any removed search engine from default search engine list would be attributed as referral traffic. In Classic Analytics ( i.e. ga.js) we need to configure it manually by adding _addOrganic(newOrganicEngine, queryParamName, opt_prepend ) java script method after _trackPageview() method as shown below:


_addOrganic(duckduckgo.com, q);

The third parameter is boolean , it takes either true or false. By default it is set to false, so that it adds the new search in to the end of the list.


Universal Analytics - Default Search Engine Configuration

Universal Analytics – Default Search Engine Configuration

B. Session and campaign timeout Configuration In Google Analytics session ends after 30 minutes time elapse from last user interaction with a web page, on other hand campaigns end after 180 days or 6 months. These default setting can be changed according to requirements of your website.

Why do we need session time out and Campaign Time out?

1. Visitors to Content rich websites may require more time i.e. more than 30 minutes , to consume the content. In this case we need to increase the session time out to an estimated amount of time based on nature and complexity of reading the content. By this we can avoid the un necessary inflate in metrics like  sessions and time spent on site ,etc.

2. If you want to preemptively end the session for visitors who are inactive for a given time. Or If you want session in our website to be automatically end by signing out the visitor sessions who is in active for specified time period.

3. If you run different campaigns for specified period of time, you need to set your campaign relevancy time accordingly. For example : a campaign promoting for Christmas festive season can run from December 1st to 25th December. Following Christmas offer you may have to start new year offer from 26th December to 1st January. By setting campaign timeout you actually set expiry of _urmz, the campaign cookie. The campaign cookie _utmz has 6 month or 180 days expiry period. In the above example you do not require 6 months validity, because you run different campaigns with different offers for a particular product.

Universal Analytics Session and Campaign Timeout Configuration

Universal Analytics Session and Campaign Timeout Configuration

  C.Referral Exclusions

Google Analytics recognizes traffic from other website as referral traffic, except the websites or search engines in default search engine list as mentioned above. In universal Analytics it is pretty easy to add website as non referral source as shown in the picture below: In Classic Analytics we have _addIgnoredRef(), javascript method, which is used to serve the same purpose

So , what is the practical use of this feature?  it is very use full in following situations like:

1. E-Commerce websites integrated with 3rd party payment gateway. During the checkout process if you send your visitor to 3rd Party payment gateways like PayPal, Western union, Amazon payments, etc., for credit card payments. On successful payment visitor is sent back to thank you page on your website. When visitor is sent back google analytics recognizes as a referral traffic. In fact it is not a referral traffic at all, it is that same visitor who is involved in purchasing process.

2. Cross Domain Tracking In case you have sub domains or multiple top level domains, it is usual phenomena to refer or link to each other. In this case the traffic driven among your different domains are attributed to referral traffic, it skews your referral data and inflates the visits.

Universal Analytics Referral Exclusion Configutation

Universal Analytics Referral Exclusion Configuration

D .Search Term Exclusions

People reach your website by typing your branded keywords or website name in search engines due to success of your offline branding. These are visitors who very well know about your brand, product or service. Such traffic does not deserve to be attributed as search traffic. Remember, any search term used to reach your website will generate a new session or visit and influences visit level and hit level metrics. Identify your branded keywords and other search terms you wanted them to be excluded as source of organic search traffic. But remember , the traffic from excluded keywords will be attributed as ‘direct traffic’.

2. Custom Dimension and Metrics

This feature is similar to Custom Variables(CVs) in Classic Analytics, with one significant difference. Custom variables are configured at client side, where as custom dimensions and metrics are configured on server side.

Custom dimensions and metrics helps you to capture customer analytics data across websites, mobiles and digital devices like information kiosks, ticket dispensing kiosks, Bank ATMs, gaming consoles etc., The data I am referring here is  unique to your  business model, where Google Analytics standard reporting cannot accommodate the data in any default reports with available dimension and metrics in Google Analytics. For example :

  1. Phone Call Tracking
  2. CRM data integrated with Google Analytics.
  3. Game Developer who is looking for  custom metrics like level completions or high score of customer who interact with game applications. etc., (Examples courtesy : developer.goolge.com)

The data requires a different description (dimension) and value ( metrics). Custom Dimension and Metrics is very powerful feature to capture customer analytics across hit level, session level and visitor level. This empowers us to define our own dimension and metrics for data, which is very specific and its own kind in context of your business model.

3. Universal Analytics uses _ga cookie as default cookie

Universal Analytics uses _ga, the default cookie for sending session, campaign and visitor data to google analytics server. A single cookie does the job of _utma, _utmb,_utmc and _utmz cookie.

4.Measurement Protocol

It is new set of rules used to send  user interactions ( i.e. hits,events)  to google analytics server.  This feature makes possible to capture user interactions with any type of machine i.e. kiosks, gaming consoles and ATMs with which customers interact .So that customer behavior beyond web and across all possible platforms can be captured and analyzed. Probably, this feature has made Google to name it as “UNIVERSAL ANALYTICS “.

5. Universal Analytics does not support Demographic and Interests reports

As universal analytics (i.e. analytics.js) is in public beta, it does not support dc.js, a java script library required for generating Demographics and Interest reports under Audience section of standard reports. Demographics and Interest are targeting options available in Google Display Network along with keywords, placements, topics and remarketing.


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