Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Universal Analytics - One Step Closer to Becoming Omniscient!

Universal Analytics Logo
Universal Analytics

Google Analytics < Universal Analytics?

Over the past few weeks we have analyzed, examined, studied, pontificated, and expounded upon all of the benefits (and potential issues ) of using Google Analytics. To add fuel to that fire Google released a new tool called Universal Analytics. With UA, we have at our finger tips a variety of new possibilities in the analytics space, specifically:

  • Use the Measurement Protocol to integrate data across multiple devices and platforms.
    • The Measurement Protocol introduced by UA lets you collect and send incoming data from any device to your Analytics account, so you can track more than just websites. Leverage the new analytics.js code and new developer reference libraries from the Measurement Protocol to see how users interact with all of your devices — smartphones, tablets, game consoles, and even digital appliances.
  • Improve lead generation: Sync offline and online data.
    • With UA, you can track data from all your online and offline customer contact points, like marketing campaigns, sales calls, and store visits, so you can discover relationships between the channels that drive conversions. Because UA is primarily an innovation in data collection methods, there are no new reports showing cross-device data.
  • Define your own dimensions & custom metrics.
    • Custom dimensions and custom metrics are like default dimensions and metrics in your Analytics account, except you create them yourself. Use them to collect data that Google Analytics doesn’t automatically track.

  • Understand how well your mobile apps perform.  
    • Mobile App Analytics captures mobile app-specific usage data and integrates it with your Google Analytics account, where you can reapply your knowledge of web analytics to dedicated app reports. (Currently in beta.) 2

New Possibilities

The bottom line? You can now submit your own data rather than being limited by the "data restrictions" or what is pre-canned in Google Analytics. This provides the organization the opportunity to correlate their data, even offline data, to really see results. For example, did the the marketing campaign really produce some ROI?  3

The Gap logo
The Gap
As mentioned in a previous post ("Mobile Analtyics - We aren't in Kansas anymore Toto" 16 Jan. 2013) 4  , a move towards measuring events, rather than visits, is needed. With Universal Analytics, Google nudges us towards that end with some improved tools. "Remember the data processing [in Universal Analytics] is fundamentally different. It’s visitor based, not visit based."  5  In fact, UA moves a step beyond to measuring/tracking users! An excellent example is given by Sayf Sharif in his article "What is Universal Analytics and How Does it Affect my Website"? 6  (It really helps you grasp the power behind UA and is worth the read, which can be found here). In the example he describes how the fictitious GAP customer Jim, interacts with the company from different platforms (including their mailer!) and how those events are inter-connected. In the past, this data would have been unconnected, provide little value and would most likely appear as a series of new users rather than just one. Now, no matter the platform, the device, or the time away from said devices, all of these data points can be drawn together and we get a picture of what Jim did and when. For a company, this is really amazing. For an individual, a little creepy (Surprisingly, you can "opt out" of Google Analytics as a web surfer. See this page for more details.Unlike the Google Analytics browser opt-out, there may not be a way to opt-out of Universal Analytics if an organization has enabled or is actively using it. 

Mobile and Off-line

Too many apps to choose from
So many mobile apps!
Universal Analytics is targeting devices, mobile applications, even appliances like a point-of-sale register. The idea is to connect multiple devices and platforms to get a clearer picture of consumer trends. 3 Combining these points of data, with the new User ID control, is what it is all about. "Imagine comparing your conversions from your company's mobile application to the same data your website produces all in the same report." Integrating the new Universal Analytics tools into mobile applications or other devices will take a little more know-how than the simple script on your web pages that has been used in the past for GA. As more developers and organizations can access to the tools, we'll see more in-depth articles regarding the nitty-gritty of adding UA to more than just your website.

The under-the-hood of UA is new measurement protocol that adds the functionality to gather both offline and online data; and not just from your website. It is the integral part to gathering this new data and passing it to the Google Analytics servers. UA has the ability to capture "mobile app-specific usage data and integrate it with your Google Analtyics account." With the new measurement protocol, only one cookie is used. Information previously kept in cookies now is on the Google Analytics servers (this actually has the possibility of speeding up page times and decreasing over-all data pushed across the internet). 


"...Google Analytics is a platform that you can build on. It will help you execute a measurement strategy that is more closely aligned with how you do business." 5  And Google just improved the platform.
You are now one step closer to knowing what the consumer is doing, and what they want, before they do! The new buzzword of the day is Business Omniscience! It is more than analytics... its Universal Analytics.

Universal Analytics is currently in limited beta status. However, you can go here to sign up and give it a try.

It is an interesting to note that Google has released this amazing tool set while at the same time they have such a large presence in the mobile space with Android. What are the possible strategic reasons why Google might provide this free tool? We'll leave that for another blog post.  Needless to say, Google is adept at providing amazing tools at little or no cost while gleaning amazing amounts of insight into the internet and the people who use it. Even more impressively, they really act on the data they gather.


  1. http://dauofu.blogspot.com/2013/01/spying-on-spies.html
  2. http://support.google.com/analytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2790010
  3. http://www.informationweek.com/development/mobility/google-unveils-universal-analytics/240012511
  4. http://dauofu.blogspot.com/2013/01/mobile-analytics-we-arent-in-kansas.html
  5. http://cutroni.com/blog/2012/10/29/universal-analytics-the-next-generation-of-google-analytics/
  6. http://www.lunametrics.com/blog/2012/11/08/universal-analytics-affect-website/
  7. http://www.clickz.com/clickz/news/2240317/mma-forum-google-touts-analytics-for-every-platform
  8. http://blogs.perficient.com/spark/2013/01/23/universal-analytics-is-universally-awesome/

Additional links:


  1. Universal Analytics is going to be huge. Mobile data keeps increasing every year creating the needs for tools like this one. Great post, Trevor.