According to Google, Universal Analytics is the new operating standard for Google Analytics, and by all accounts customers will soon be required to make the switch. But what does this mean to you as an agency? Over the next few years, as all of your clients switch over to Universal Analytics, there can be an unintended consequence that you should be aware of.
Upgrading to Universal Analytics can break a client’s CRM tracking capability.
Classic Analytics saves several first-party cookies on the user's browser. One of these cookies is called "_utmz." This cookie holds all of the campaign data such as source, medium, campaign and keyword. That cookie is how Google Analytics currently knows where the visitor came from.
Since _utmz is a first-party cookie the client can "read" the cookie and grab data from it for their own purposes. Although it's not recommended, it’s not uncommon to see many brands hacking into the _utmz cookie to pull out campaign data for their own CRM. A web master would be tempted to hack into the _utmz because it neatly stores all the campaign data and makes life a whole lot easier.
Here's the problem, Universal Analytics only uses a single cookie called "ga." That cookie only saves a single id number. All campaign data is now saved directly on Google's servers. The _utmz cookie disappears when a client upgrades to Universal Analytics. If you have a client that depends on the _utmz cookie for their CRM, upgrading to Universal Analytics will break their CRM tracking.
Why is this a problem for your agency? If a member of your team recommends an upgrade to Universal Analytics to a client that is currently using the _utmz data for their CRM, you could be blamed for breaking their CRM tracking, and that’s not good for business.
What should you do? Stay informed and educate your teams. Make sure client facing employees are aware of the potential issue and confirm with the client's web master that there are no _utmz dependencies before recommending an upgrade to Universal Analytics. If there are dependencies, their web master needs to remove them.