University’s analytics program designed to close skills gap

UO SOJC partners with Alteryx, comScore and Shareablee to give students media analytics experience.

Last year, the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication founded the Insights and Analytics Lab to offer its students something undergrads rarely get access to: real-world big data.

Through partnerships with media analytics industry leaders comScore and Shareablee and self-service analytics platform Alteryx Inc., the UO SOJC became the first school in the nation to teach undergraduate students to do hands-on media analytics research on live media usage data using professional, state-of-the-art statistics and analysis tools.

Over the past decade, the importance of self-service data analysis has increased dramatically. In response to these changes in the industry, the UO SOJC found a way to offer its students experiential learning in these new, highly sought-after skills.

Assistant Professor Heather Shoenberger, who directs the Insights and Analytics Lab and teaches its accompanying class, reached out to comScore Shareablee and Alteryx to ask for student access to their proprietary databases and software.

“This venture lets us offer our students vital tools that will prepare them for the rapidly changing job market,” Shoenberger said. “And it produces research that will inform the future of advertising and journalism.”

How it Works

Students in the Insights and Analytics Lab use cutting-edge, self-service analytics software from Alteryx to analyze comScore’s live TV ratings. The combination allows them to derive insights about television watching habits, a skill that gives them a front-line advantage in an evolving strategic communication and journalism landscape.

“We at Alteryx feel strongly about giving back to worthy causes, which is why we started Alteryx for Good and partner with organizations, like UO SOJC, that are shaping the future of the workforce,” said Seth Greenberg, chief marketing officer at Alteryx, Inc. “Analytical skills have become a necessity across industries, but particularly in the ever-changing world of media. We could not be more proud to encourage these students to accelerate their careers by harnessing the power of data.”

comScore executives share this interest in helping students learn the skills they will need in their future careers.

“We’re thrilled to be part of an initiative that gives students real-world opportunities to help them understand the complexity of today’s media and advertising environment,” said Chris Wilson, executive vice president of national TV at comScore. “Opportunities like this one that’s offered by the UO School of Journalism go a long way in equipping students with the critical skills they need — like analyzing and understanding big data — to secure a job in a related industry post-graduation.”

Analyzing Brand Performance

Another partner, Shareablee, offers access to metrics on brand performance on social media. Students use the Shareablee database to assess hypothetical client questions about social content performance, which encourages students to think critically about what types of social media engagement may be useful for a specific client.

“We are thrilled to offer the SOJC’s students access to the wealth of Shareablee’s social media data. With our proprietary metrics we are delighted students will be able to uncover critical insights into this new knowledge pool,” said Shareablee’s founder and CEO, Tania Yuki.

Paying off–with Careers

After only a year, the UO SOJC’s investment in its unique Insights and Analytics Lab is already paying off for students. According to Shoenberger, many graduates who took her class in its inaugural year were able to secure jobs soon after graduation based on experience they gained with its tools.

“The media analytics class is a perfect introduction to basic data work for advertising students,” said Madeleine McNally, a recent SOJC grad who is now an assistant media planner on the PlayStation account at MediaCom. “The class gives students unique access to industry leaders, robust datasets and hands-on experience with analytics software. It equipped me with the skills and knowledge to accept a media analytics position, where I am expected to work with large datasets — cleansing, transforming and pulling insights for clients.”

To learn more about the UO SOJC’s Insights and Analytics Lab and its partners or to set up an interview with Assistant Professor Heather Shoenberger, contact her at

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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