21 September 2019: MeasureCamp, London
With the release of Google Analytics: App + Web, Firebase is suddenly all the rage. The new App + Web property can combine data from your website and mobile apps, as long as the latter uses Google Analytics for Firebase, formerly known as Firebase Analytics. In this guide, I’ll walk you through the steps of creating an extremely simple Android application, and we’ll then create a Firebase project, and for good measure add Google Tag Manager to the mix.

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It’s been a while since I’ve last written a bona fide Google Tag Manager trick, so here comes. This was inspired by Bart Gibby’s question in Measure Slack. The purpose is to fetch the latest currency exchange rates from the exchangeratesapi.io service, cache them using sessionStorage, and push the results into dataLayer. From dataLayer, they can then be utilized in Custom JavaScript variables and custom variable templates to perform client-side conversions.

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Google recently released a new version of Google Analytics called App + Web. Clumsy name aside, this really is for all intents and purposes Google Analytics V2 or Firebase Analytics for the Web. We’re not talking about a charming way to do roll-up reporting between Google Analytics for Firebase and Universal Analytics, nor are we talking about an enhancement to Universal Analytics. No, we’re talking about a new measurement model for web traffic, which has the convenience of being compatible with Google Analytics for Firebase, which you might already have running in your apps.

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With Intelligent Tracking Prevention, the Safari browser is on a crusade against cross-site tracking. One of the most obvious and long-standing ways to battle cross-site tracking has been to block third-party cookies in the web browser, and this is exactly what Safari does by default. However, Google Tag Manager’s Preview mode relies on a third-party cookies, so that it can serve you the draft version of the container while serving the regular, live container to your site visitors.

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When Custom Templates were released in Google Tag Manager, many of us active in the GTM communities started doing two things: 1) creating our own custom templates, and 2) waiting patiently for Google to release a “gallery” or “library” for distributing these community contributions. While I have full faith in the latter happening some time in the future, I thought it would be fun to create something similar to a library, and then open-sourcing it for the community to help out with or to download locally for their own purposes.

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Google Tag Manager is strictly a tag delivery system, and it’s very careful not to collect any analytics data on its own. This is most likely a deliberate choice, because if GTM was to start collecting data, it would introduce additional barriers to adoption. Nevertheless, being a tool that consolidates the design, development, deployment, and testing of all the marketing and analytics pixels, code snippets, and utilities running on a website or a mobile app, lacking the necessary features for auditing and monitoring has always seemed like an oversight.

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One of the cool things about Enhanced Ecommerce deployments in Google Tag Manager is that you can use a Custom JavaScript variable to generate the necessary data. There are many reasons to do so, with the biggest one being the flexibility it offers for manipulating the dataLayer object in case quick changes are required on the site, and it would take too long to wait for a new release of the site JavaScript.

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Simo Ahava

Husband | Father | Analytics developer
simo (at) simoahava.com

Senior Data Advocate at Reaktor

Finland