May 11, 2021: Marketing Analytics Summit, virtual
One of the big omissions, at least for now, in Google Analytics 4 is the customTask. It is unfortunate, but no such mechanism exists in the client-side SDKs. This means that you won’t be able to do all the magical things that customTask enables in Universal Analytics. One of the biggest headaches is how to collect extremely useful fields such as the Client ID, as these are not available by default in the Google Analytics 4 reporting interface.

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At one point in the turbulent year of 2020, you might have gasped in surprise when looking at the preview interface of Google Tag Manager. No, I’m not talking about the new preview mode interface. Instead, I’m referring to how the Click Element and Form Element built-in variables would now display a CSS path string rather than the expected [object HTMLDivElement] (or equivalent). There was good and bad in this update.

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With the introduction of server-side tagging in Google Tag Manager, the variety of things you can do with your own server-side proxy is mind-boggling: Reduce client-side bloat by consolidating data streams and distributing them to vendor endpoints server-side. Improve data security by adding safeguards and validations to prevent harmful data from being sent to vendor endpoints. Enrich data server-side, by combining the incoming data stream with data from APIs and data stores that you own and control.

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Intelligent Tracking Prevention is the name of the tracking prevention mechanism implemented in WebKit and enabled in Safari and all major browsers running on the iOS platform. I’ve written about it on this blog, and the CookieStatus.com resource is something you should bookmark for further reading. The purpose of ITP is to prevent tracking tools’ access to data stored and processed in the browser. This involves things like blocking all third-party cookies and restricting the lifetime of first-party cookies.

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On the surface, tracking events in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is fairly simple. Events are, after all, pretty much the only thing you can collect in GA4. It’s easy to get tied down with endless comparisons to Universal Analytics, though. While I’m steadfastly opposed to the idea that GA4 should resemble Universal Analytics, it’s still important to cleanse the palate and approach GA4’s event tracking with an open mind. There are some comparisons that can be drawn between the new and the old, but what GA4 might lack in some features and use cases, it more than makes up for this with a more flexible data structure.

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The release of bulk actions in the Google Tag Manager user interface was very welcome. For years, GTM users had been struggling with a somewhat crippled workflow of item-by-item management. This release is even more impressive with the most recent update to it: bulk actions with TRIGGERS. You can now select multiple tags and attach one or more triggers (or exceptions) to them. Or, conversely, you can use the feature to remove triggers (or exceptions) from tags.

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This is an implementation guide for Google Analytics 4. The guide is aimed at Google Tag Manager users and has been designed to complement the official documentation. A thing to keep in mind is that Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is still very new. The Google Tag Manager integration is still in its infancy, and implementation places a lot of responsibility on accurate tagging and proper dataLayer instrumentation. In this guide, I’ll explain the new data model from an implementation perspective, and walk you through the nuts and bolts on how to get the different parts of GA4’s Ecommerce machine to work in unison.

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Simo Ahava

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

Senior Data Advocate at Reaktor

Finland