Google Analytics, Event Tracking and Discovery Tools

  • Emily Lynema, North Carolina State University Libraries. ejlynema AT ncsu DOT edu
  • Adam Constabaris, North Carolina State University Libraries, ajconsta AT ncsu DOT edu

The NCSU Libraries is using Google Analytics increasingly across its website as a replacement for usage tracking via Urchin. More recently, we have also begun to use the event tracking features in Google Analytics. This has allowed us to gather usage statistics for activities that don’t initiate new requests to the server, such as clicks that hide and show already-loaded content (as in many tabbed interfaces). Aggregating these events together with pageview tracking in Google Analytics presents a more unified picture of patron activity and can help improve design of tools like the library catalog. While assuming a basic understanding of the use of Google Analytics pageview tracking, this presentation will start with an introduction to the event tracking capabilities that may be less widely known.

We’ll share library catalog usage data pulled from Google Analytics, including information about features that are common across the newest wave of catalog interfaces, such as tabbed content, Google Preview, and shelf browse. We will also cover the approach taken for the technical implementation of this data-intensive JavaScript event tracking.

As a counterpart, we can demonstrate how we have begun to use Google Analytics event tracking in a proprietary vendor discovery tool (Serials Solutions Summon). While the same technical ideas govern this implementation, we can highlight the differences (read, challenges) inherent in utilizing this type of event tracking in vendor-owned application vs. a locally developed application.

Along the way, hopefully you’ll learn a little about why you might (or might not) want to use Google Analytics event tracking yourself and see some interesting catalog usage stats.

Download the video