Web Analytics

Google Analytics vs Universal Analytics: Use our Decision Tree to Make the Right Decision

UPDATE 2.4.2014:

Universal Analytics is out of Beta!  According to the official Google Analytics blog, “all the features, reports, and tools of Classic Analytics are now available in the product”.

If you were waiting for the remarketing and demographics features we wrote about below to become available, your wait is over.  We now recommend Universal Analytics for all new web analytics properties.  Existing Classic Analytics users still have time to plan their switch to Universal Analytics.


Since our last blog post on the subject, Google Analytics has added more features to Universal Analytics. It now supports AdSense account linking and Content Experiments. This leaves only the Advanced Advertisement Tools still classified as “Coming soon”. These tools include:

  • Remarketing
  • Demographics and Interests reporting
  • Google Display Network Impression reporting

A few powerful features make Universal Analytics a very attractive option. With the new custom dimensions and metrics you can track any bit of (non-personally identifiable) detail you can imagine about your website. For example, you can set a scroll metric that measures how far down each page your visitors read, or create a dimension that tracks the sections of your website for easy comparison in reports. Universal also offers simplified configuration and the promise of many new improvements soon to come. Classic Analytics, in the meantime, will get no new features.

So do we still recommend that you wait to switch to Universal Analytics? That depends on your needs. We’ve simplified the factors you should consider in this decision tree:

Amazee Metrics Decision Tree

  • You currently don’t use Google Analytics but would like to set up a new property.
    • Do you want to use the Remarketing, Demographics and Interests reporting or Google Display Network Impression Reporting?
      • If so, you’ll need to use Classic Analytics for now, and transfer your property when those features become available in Universal Analytics.
      • If not, use Universal Analytics. (We highly recommend setting it up using Google Tag Manager, which simplifies any changes you want to make to the way Google Analytics tracks your website.)
  • You are currently using Classic Analytics.
    • Do you use Remarketing, Demographics and Interests reporting or Google Display Network Impression reporting?
      • If so, you should wait to upgrade to Universal Analytics until those features are supported.
    • Do you use custom variables?
      • If so, you should be aware that they will need to be re-configured to custom dimensions and metrics. You can upgrade, and do this now, or you can wait until Google transfers your property automatically, and reconfigure then.
    • If you answered no to the points above, you can decide to wait or to transfer now. If you want to start using the powerful new features like custom dimensions and metrics and simplified configuration transfer to Universal Analytics. If you want to wait, that is fine too. Google will transfer your property automatically. You will need to make a change to your tracking code when that happens, but you’ll find all the guidance you need in your Google Analytics Admin section under Tracking Info.
  • You are currently using Universal Analytics.
    • Congratulations. You’re already using the latest version. Stick with it.

So, how do YOU plan to handle the transfer to Universal Analytics?