Sep
19
2014

New Universal Analytics Upgrade & userId

Universal Analytics is out, and it's time to upgrade!

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  • https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/analyticsjs/ – Has a short list of some helpful additions to add to analytics tracking.

Most accounts were already updated automatically. That process was a bit confusing for everyone:

  • https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/ua-upgrade/4IIPFZTFzhk

The new userId feature seems like something I might use down the road:

  • https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/analyticsjs/user-id
  • https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/3123666 – Set up the User ID

However the example they provide would horribly break cache for most peoples use cases. Or provide them with invalid results that would look like the same users are hitting the same pages over and over again.

If/when I play with this further that will have to be sorted out. Especially since I deploy varnish in most web stacks these days. In the short term I couldn’t help but think what could go in there. If you used PHP like in their example you could use base64_encode to put anything you want in there. Including things against the TOS and no one would be the wiser. User names, IP addresses etc. Then later base64_decode to reveal the unique info. This concept has already been explored with custom vars, and just leaves out the encode portion: http://ryanunderdown.com/analytics/track-ip-addresses-in-google-analytics.php

Uniquely Identifying Users Online

I cant find the article, but I recall reading/discussing a method in which everyone is very identifiable online via taking an ip, and other browser info and slammed it together into a single unique string. That would go beyond user agent and into the realm of checking for every plugin a user may or may not have, and then further attaching the version of it that’s installed. I’m sure there are flaws somewhere in there, but conceptually it sounds like it would be fairly accurate. Especially if you could chain an identifier between sites and pick up pieces of “real” information for that person. Scary…

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