Google’s new “Universal” analytics code doesn’t support demographics data – why not?!

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By Dave Ashworth
on 20/3/14

We have come across what looks to be a disappointing and, in our opinion, massive oversight on Google’s part relating to the much anticipated demographics and interests data being rolled in within analytics.

For more on what this data offers, check out this article written by a Google employee, and if you want to see this data within your analytics account, then just follow the steps highlighted here – that is so long as you haven’t already upgraded to their “universal” analytics code!

Regards Universal Analytics, you may have noticed the following within you analytics admin:


When we saw this, we looked into this further to see if we needed to upgrade and what would happen if we did.  According to Google:

“Universal Analytics is the new operating standard for Google Analytics. When you upgrade, you can still access all of your historical data in the same reports that you use today, but you also get:

  • Custom Dimensions and Metrics
  • New Tracking Code
  • More Reporting Features

All Google Analytics properties will soon be required to use Universal Analytics. Properties that aren’t transferred will be auto-transferred to Universal Analytics in the future.”

Not wanting to get left behind, we upgraded some, but fortunately not all, of our accounts and were quite enthusiastic about these additional reporting features of which they wrote.  Seems when they said "more reporting features" what they actually meant was "less".

This is because on an account where we upgraded to the “universal” code, we tried to view demographic data, but were informed:

“Your Demographics and Interest Reports have been enabled, but your Analytics tracking code does not include the necessary support to show them. Learn more about the simple, one-line, one-time change to your tracking code to add this support.”

Ok, so then we went to this page to find out about this simple one time change, but it only speaks about how to upgrade the "old" code format.

Confused, I looked into this further only to find that we weren’t the only ones to fall foul of this oversight:!topic/analytics/R8cDL5ESeVU

The forum also links to the article at the beginning of this post, which was written by Daniel Waisberg, who is an Analytics Advocate at Google.  In the comments people are asking why this hasn’t been rolled out to all accounts, quotes from Daniel include:

"this feature is rolling out slowly, it will eventually be available to all your accounts."
"The feature was launched but we still didn't enable it to all accounts, stay tuned!"
"Eventually everything will be rolled into Universal."
"I am afraid this will not work. Universal does not work with the remarketing code right now. Hopefully in the near future..."
"We are still working to make the demographics reports available in it. Stay tuned!"

All those comments were made last October.  Somebody posted the following recently:

"When exactly will this be rolled out? It has been 6 months you posted this!"

As yet, there's been no reply, so I guess all we can do now is wait.

Or not upgrade.

I'd advise the latter.