Universal Analytics (UA) is Google’s new standard for analytics which moves away from web analytics to – well, universal analytics. In essence, it allows us to connect and measure users across the online and offline world.

At the core of it, Universal Analytics requires new tracking codes. By replacing the ga.js JavaScript library with the Analytics.js JavaScript library, updating the Google Analytics SDKs for mobile app tracking and introducing the Measurement Protocol for other digital devices, you can access new configuration options, custom dimensions and metrics.

How can the recruitment industry take advantage of these new features?

Identify data sources

Your website is probably the primary point of interaction for your candidates and clients. However, there might be other places where you already collect data from, such as:

Identify knowledge gaps

What do you want to know about the candidates/visitors that interact with your company?

Universal Analytics can help us answer these questions, primarily by implementing a unique User ID for each user, common across touch-points.

Understanding the Measurement Protocol

The Measurement Protocol is a set of rules which Universal Analytics uses to collect data from any device or system. To implement this, you’ll need a web developer to create an application that retrieves events or hits from your chosen touch-points. The collected data is then sent to the Universal Analytics servers as Payload data.

Each payload must contain four parameters:

  1. v – this indicates the measurement protocol version, which for now is ‘1’
  2. tid –the tracking ID, which is the Universal Analytics instance you want to send the payload data to, unique to your organisation
  3. userid – this is a unique identifier for each user assigned by you, the site owner
  4. t – indicates the hit type, which can be ‘pageview’, ‘screenview’, ‘event’, ‘transaction’, ‘item’, ‘social’, ‘exception’, ‘timing’

You can add more parameters according to your needs but these four are mandatory. A list of other commonly used parameters are available here.

What is a User ID?

In the past, Google Analytics (GA) generated a random client ID when users visit a site. This information was stored in a cookie which allowed GA to identify returning visitors. Marketers never saw this ID. For the most part, it was a meaningless series of characters that only made sense in the cookie.

In contrast, the new User ID in Universal Analytics is a value determined by the site owner and associated with each user. It can be anything provided that it does not contain personally identifiable information, e.g. it cannot be an email address, name or social security number.

The key is to generate unique IDs which you consistently assign to users and include those IDs wherever and whenever you send data to UA.

How User ID works

The move from classic Google Analytics and Client ID to Universal Analytics and User ID shifts the focus away from visit-based data to visitor-based information – a subtle, but very important difference.

In a typical scenario, a user sees one of your jobs on a job board using their desktop during the day. On their way home, the user browses jobs using your mobile site. In the evening he then logs on LinkedIn from his tablet and clicks on an update from one of your recruiters which leads them back to your site.

Without a User ID, Google Analytics assigns each device a unique client ID and treats them as three unique visitors. This made it impossible to tell whether there were actually three people who used the site or the same person simply used three different devices.

Classic GA measurement with Client IDWith Universal Analytics, you can assign a User ID that is specific to each user who has registered for an account on your site. Given the scenario above, as long as the user is logged In, Universal Analytics would be able to link each session from each device to the same user.

Cross device measurement with User ID

Use Case

Websites already allow you to track web-based conversions. Within recruitment, the conversions are typically defined as applications received. However the recruitment cycle doesn’t really end when you receive a CV, the ‘real’ conversion occurs when a candidate is successfully placed into a job. However, this information is not captured within Google Analytics.

To rectify this, here’s a solution using Universal Analytics:


Registered users are assigned a User ID which is used to identify them during subsequent visits, regardless of the device they use to log in. When a user sends an application, recruiters will receive the CV as normal but in addition, the User ID is passed along to your CRM in a hidden field. The application submission is then tracked as an event in your analytics interface.

In the event that the user is successfully placed in a job, the recruiter changes the candidate status on the CRM. At this point, you can then use a ‘webhook’ to send information back to UA containing the User ID and the new event, ‘candidate placed’. Success! You’ve just tracked a full recruiting cycle for the first time.

Using this implementation,  you will be able to measure end-to-end metrics such as:

If like most recruitment agencies you have been hampered by a lack of insight into the efficacy of your digital marketing efforts, Universal Analytics offers a sophisticated and relatively easy to implement opportunity to get full visibility of your marketing returns.


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