Universal Analytics: A game changer for #highered?

February 26th, 2014 Karine Joly No Comments

Google Universal AnalyticsMy latest University Business column published in the March 2014 issue is now available online: Universal Analytics: A game changer for higher ed?.

In this short article, I explain why universities and colleges should learn more about Universal Analytics – and some of the possibilities offered by this tool down the line.
If you need to make the case to your boss to start talking about Universal Analytics, I hope this article will help you.

Will the “measurement protocol” redefine higher ed marketing? Maybe.

I published a few weeks ago one of the interviews used to write this column, an interview with Stephane Hamel, but at the end of my column I go a bit further in the possible future scenarios that Universal Analytics will make possible with the new “measurement protocol:”

the “measurement protocol” introduced with UA promises to bridge the online and offline environments, opening a world of possibilities when it comes to tracking, measuring and understanding interactions with students and other constituencies—online and on-site.

It also is possible to integrate other kinds of data streams in UA. As long as interactions can be captured by a device or unique ID associated to a given user, you can feed the resulting data to your Universal Analytics account. This means that you now have access to a platform that can help better follow, analyze and understand how your online calls-to-action are carried over in the real world. Hamel believes that students’ cards—often scanned when labs, library or sporting resources are accessed—can become an insightful data source for Universal Analytics.

Now, imagine if you were to give a “VIP card” to prospective students who expressed interest online that they could use when they visit campus, and then register and later attend your school until they graduate. You could gain wonderful insights on prospective, current and past student populations—as well as forecast future trends via some predictive analytics. Now do you see the potential?

What about privacy? Yep, what about it?

Because Universal Analytics focuses on tracking visitors (across devices) and not just visits like the classic edition of the Analytics platform, it could open up a can of worms with privacy issues.

Today, data is really how you pay for all the great free online tools made available to your institutions, so you definitely need to know what you are getting your users into.