CoJMC launches media analytics lab

CoJMC launches media analytics lab

Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - 1:15pm

by Molly Chapple

CoJMC professor Valerie Jones is launching the CoJMC’s first-ever Media Analytics Lab. The goal of the lab is to allow students to apply classroom knowledge and provide insights to clients based on the data they find. The lab is an extension of her online Digital Insight and Analytics class, which she developed in 2011 and has been teaching ever since.

The 10 graduate-level students will work with a paying client to analyze data from a variety of sources and recommend actions to take to better meet the client’s goals.

The lab’s first client is Nelnet, which is promoting a product called BenefitEd, a joint venture with Ameritas that allows employers to offer student loan repayment as a benefit.

The goal of the campaign is for employers to visit BenefitEd’s website and request further information on the program.

“We’ve been very impressed by the talented students emerging from the UNL CoJMC. This is a great opportunity for us tap into their knowledge and increase exposure to our company.” Mike Kuhl, Marketing Manager for BenefitEd.

Grad students in Jones’ class will receive data on the product from Google Analytics, Adwords,  HubSpot and digital media over the course of the semester. They will examine metrics related to audience acquisition and behavior, such as who visits Nelnet’s website, who requests more information on the product, how visitors come to the website, how much time they spend there, etc.

After analyzing the data, students will provide insights and recommendations to Nelnet on ways they can further pique interest in the program, drive leads and provide a good user experience. Nelnet will apply those recommendations to the live campaign, and students will then analyze data from the optimizations that were made.

“The most exciting part about this is the opportunity (for students) to help effect change in a real life scenario,” Jones said. “They also are providing value to a client who is looking to optimize their media spend.”

Jones said she hopes to see the Media Analytics Lab become its own unit in the future, similar to Jacht Ad Lab and the Drone Journalism Lab at the CoJMC.

“It’s a pilot of what the lab could be,” she said. “Eventually, I would like to see it grow into a service unit that could benefit the community.”

About BenefitEd

BenefitEd offers student loan repayment and college savings programs that help progressive employers create a more engaged and productive workforce. As a joint venture between Ameritas and Nelnet, BenefitEd leverages a deep understanding of employee benefits programs and expertise in education payment processing. For more information, go to

Jones headshot
The lab is an extension of Jones' online Digital Insight and Analytics class, which she developed in 2011 and has been teaching ever since.