29-30 September 2022: SMX Advanced, Berlin
For the longest time, Google has been working towards consolidation of their products to build a unified tagging platform. Products that are instrumented (or associated) with “tags” would fall under this umbrella. These comprise tools like Google Tag Manager, Google Ads, Google Optimize, and, of course, Google Analytics. If you’ve been peeking under the hood, you might have noticed how all the tools listed above already run through the gtag.js library.

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With certain types of HTTP requests, the web browser might first dispatch a request with the OPTIONS method, also known as a preflight request. The purpose of the preflight request is to “check” with the web server that it’s equipped to handle the type of cross-origin request the browser wants to dispatch. If the server doesn’t handle this preflight request, or if it returns a response that doesn’t agree with what the web browser wants to actually dispatch, the check fails and the browser refuses to send the actual request.

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Server-side Google Tag Manager has an excellent Preview mode, which lets you inspect incoming requests, monitor the event data object, view console messages, and identify outgoing requests, among other things. To enable this Preview mode on the web, you simply need to click the Preview button in the container, after which any requests sent from the same browser instance will be automatically shown in the Preview mode window. However, what about if you want to send requests from another browser?

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Seven years ago, I wrote on my former employer’s (the amazing Reaktor) blog a tongue-in-the-cheek article titled 10 Truths About Data. Looking back on it today, I’m still proud of the handiwork, but I can’t help but think that some of the truths were wasted just to reach the magic number 10. So, today, I want to revisit these truths and provide a rehashed version for you, my dear reader.

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If you want to manually install server-side Google Tag Manager on App Engine in the Google Cloud Platform, you are of course welcome to do so. The main benefits of doing this are that you get to choose the region where App Engine is deployed and that you can use existing project resources instead of having a new project automatically created for you. However, to run the script without errors, there are a number of things you need to enable first.

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With asynchronous variables recently released in server-side Google Tag Manager, it’s time to dig into data enrichment flows using another release from the Google team. * drum roll * We have a new Google Cloud Platform API! It’s fast. It’s sleek. It’s beautiful. It’s Firestore! Firestore is a NoSQL, transactional, and scalable database that offers near-real-time write/read and sync operations for data. In practice, it’s a great way to enrich and widen the data that you pass through your Server container.

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OK, that’s one unappealing title for a blog post, but rest assured that the content more than makes up for this obscurity. Recently, my favorite toy in the world, Google Tag Manager’s server container, introduced the capability to handle asynchronous operations in variables. This is done through a JavaScript interface known as Promise. A Promise is a way to run code in JavaScript without knowing what its eventual value will be.

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Simo Ahava

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

Senior Data Advocate at Reaktor

Finland