using digital analytics to assess the real world

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Using Digital Analytics to Assess the Real World

Using Digital Analytics to Assess the Real WorldTabatha FarneyDirector of Web Services & Emerging TechUniversity of Colorado Colorado Springs@sharebrarian |


What is digital analytics?The analysis of digital data from your online presence.

So what do I mean by digital analytics? Evolution of web analytics that focuses on website analysis. DA includes tracking usage from any online content.2

Defining the Online Presence

Library WebsitesSearch ToolsElectronic ResourcesSocial MediaEmailbrick and mortar online

This requires us to really understand the librarys online presence. 3

Goal, Blue Diamond Gallery,

However, DA is not just about analyzing data for data sake. With all those data sets, you really need to approach DA with a goal or intended outcome. What do you want to know from the data? In the corporate world, digital analytics is tied into the business goalssuch as selling something. Libraries are more diverse, but we still have large organizational goals.4

The toolsThere isnt one tool to rule them all.

When it comes to tracking all that data, there isnt one tool to rule them all. There are lots of tools. But the tool Im going to focus on today is5

Digital analytics features include:

Campaign URLsMeasurement ProtocolCustom metrics and dimensions Uploading data sets

Survey results how many use GA in their library and GA comfort level. What makes it a DA tool? It can collect and analyze data beyond a website.


The tool I use is GDS. This is a new Google feature that is still currently in beta, but it is a data visualization tool7

FreeCombines data from Google Analytics, Google Spreadsheets, and other data sourcesSharable and easy to update

Limited to 5 reportsDifficult to integrate data sources in one chartBeta and bugs

Link Humans, Flickr,

Enough about the tools! We are here to talk about digital analytics providing us with data that impacts the physical library! After all, we are already tracking massive amounts of data. We just need to approach it with a specific lens to find the real world applications! Im going to talk about 3 case studies weve done in my library and all of them are based off of sitting in meetings and people asking simple questions about usage. 9

Digital Analytics for Library StaffingCollaboration Space, Kraemer Family Library, University of Colorado Colorado Springs,

Focus on the reference desk

Reference Desk, Kraemer Family Library, University of Colorado Colorado Springs,

Im not just interested in keeping the library open. The real question was about extending reference services either online or at the actual desk.

There is the general notion that if youre website is heavily trafficked at certain hours, then theres a need to be open. But that treats all visits the same! People come to your library for different reasons and that doesnt mean they all want to use the reference desk. So instead of just focusing on sessions, I wanted to find more about what users are doing on the library website when the ref desk is closed.11


I focused on content. I essentially did a content usage analysis comparing staffed hours vs non-staffed hours.12

WebsitesLibrary websiteFiltersHourStaffed vs Non-staffed hoursMetricsSessions Pageviews Content groupsUser actions Data

Heres a breakdown of the set up I used. 13

GA CustomizationsEvent TrackingUsed Google Tag ManagerTrack outbound links, downloads, emails, searches, form submissions, chatContent GroupsAdmin featureCategorized content in large groups


1. Wasnt a significant change in content usage between staffed and non-staffed hours

2. Repeat analysis in search tools

Digital Analytics for Assessing Instruction

Next case study focuses on instruction. How effective am I in the classroom? Are they really getting it? There are many ways to assess instruction, but I used DA to analyze online guide usage focused on user actions on the guides and also gathered student feedback. 17

WebsitesLibGuides (online guides)FiltersPagetitleGuide TitleMetricsSessions UsersReturning UsersPageviews User actionsSearch termsOutbound linksUser ratingUser comments Data


GA CustomizationsEvent TrackingUsed Google Tag ManagerTrack outbound links, searches, form submissionsGoogle FormsImport data into GDSAveraged user rating metric


ResultsGuide editors love the data

Want instruction date metric and quiz data

Marios Flag, Banjo2015, Deviant Art,

Digital Analytics for E-Resources Discoverability

The final case study focuses on electronic resources. We recently implemented a discovery service and our technical services team went through a crisis of where do we put these resources. Several workflows to make e-resource discoverable. Should we keep doing this or what is the best use of our resources?22

WebsitesLibrary websiteDiscovery serviceLibGuidesCatalogFiltersElectronic resource clicksMetricsSessions Users Click-through rateCost per clickElectronic resource clicks


Compared four different sites and I looked at basic usage how many sessions and users did the site receive; then I looked at the click-through rate how many times a user actually used that site to access an electronic resource (database, online journal, ebook). Then I factored in the cost per click they understood cost per use, so I was trying to give them a metric they could relate to. Lastly, I looked at electronic resource clicks to see if different sites were better at promoting specific e-resources. All of this was filtered by an event that only gather data from electronic resource link clicks. 23

GA CustomizationsEvent TrackingYes, againCalculated metrics Click-through rate Cost per click


LimitationsTreats all clicks the same

Doh, QuotesGram,


ResultsGreater emphasis on discovery service and website

Woohoo, Clipart Panda,



MarketingGoal: Understanding the most effective means of marketing library programs

DataCampaign URLs for all marketing links (social media, emails, digital signage)Library program metadataUser Feedback (online form)

Collection Development Failed search dataSearch queries

Coding the dataLibrary books, CCAC North Library, Flickr,

Additional ResourcesFarney, Tabatha. Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, Library Technology Reports. 52.7 (October 2016).Google Analytics Academy, Kaushik, Avinash, Occams Razor,