Magazine article University Business

Universal Analytics: A Game Changer for Higher Ed? Learn What Every Higher Eel Digital Analytics Professional Will Soon Be Talking About

Magazine article University Business

Universal Analytics: A Game Changer for Higher Ed? Learn What Every Higher Eel Digital Analytics Professional Will Soon Be Talking About

Article excerpt

Not long ago, I asked presenters at the Higher Ed Analytics, Conference what the next 'big thing" would be. Their answer? Universal Analytics, or UA.

Philippe Taza, of the Montreal-based digital marketing agency Higher Ed Marketing, explained that tracking a visitor across multiple devices would be both important and desirable--something UA will make possible. Alan Etkin, project and web analytics manager at the British Columbia Institute of Technology and digital analytics consultant for Noel-Levitz, agreed. The implementation of UA with Google's tag management system will be a priority for his school in the coming months. Shelby Thayer, director of web strategy and CRM at Penn State Outreach and Online Education, also said UA will play an important role in higher education.

As Google explains on its website (http://tiny.cc/UniversalAnalytics), the goal of UA is to help you get a better understanding of how visitors interact with your online content.

Some institutions, including Penn State, and Lehigh University and the University of Scranton, also in Pennsylvania, have already switched to UA. At Eastern Kentucky University, the UA code is run in parallel with the classic version of Google Analytics. However, most early adopters haven't yet implemented anything that couldn't be done with the original Google Analytics. As usual in higher education, it's a process.

What is UA? Why should you care?

According to my 2012 State of Higher Ed Analytics Survey (http://tiny.cc/AnalyticsSurvey), 97 percent of institutions use Google Analytics to track and measure web data, so any big change is a big deal. But the Universal Analytics "upgrade," introduced in 2012, will become the only solution supported by Google within two years.

This improved version offers new features that change how data is collected and organized. "On the surface, UA will continue to work like Google Analytics. Under the hood, however, UA is a totally reengineered analytics platform that expands capabilities to an unprecedented level," says Stephane Hamel, director of Innovation at Cardinal Path, a web analytics consultancy. Hamel, who also teaches a graduate course on digital analytics at Laval University in Quebec, thinks UA will redefine digital analytics practice in three ways. …

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