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With so many people working from home or remotely in these turbulent times, it's time to revisit one of my oldest articles, and discuss the options you have for excluding or segmenting internal traffic in Google Analytics. The traditional method of IP address exclusion is not necessarily the best option anymore, unless all your employees use a specific VPN to connect to the site. In this article, we'll go through some of the tools you have at your disposal.

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With the enforcement of SameSite settings in the latest versions of Google Chrome, it's become a mad scramble to get cookies working across first-party and third-party contexts. I've covered this phenomenon before in my SameSite article, as well as in my guide for setting up cookieless tracking for iframes. Recently, Google Analytics updated its libraries (App+Web, gtag.js, and analytics.js) with a new setting: cookieFlags (analytics.js) or cookie_flags (App+Web and gtag.js).

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One of the hard-and-fast rules in Google Analytics is that once hits have been collected and processed into your data properties, those hits are untouchable. This means that if you mistakenly collect duplicate or incorrect transactions, PII traffic, or referral spam, for example, it's extremely difficult, if not downright impossible, to purge or change this data in Google Analytics. Another staple of Google Analytics’ strict schema is that displacing hits in time is also very difficult.

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Until recently, I had a feature on GTM Tools that polled the user's Google Tag Manager container(s) for a recently published version. If one was found, a notification was sent to a Slack app, which forwarded it to a workspace and channel of the user's choice. This was fine, except for the fact that polling the GTM and Slack APIs for dozens upon dozens of containers is a total resource hog, and the only way I can maintain GTM Tools is it doesn't have API leaks like that.

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Here I am, back with <iframe> and cross-domain tracking. I've published a couple of articles before on the topic, with my upgraded solution being the most recent one. These articles tackle the general problem of passing the Client ID from the parent to the <iframe>. By doing so, the <iframe> can take the Client ID from the frame URL and create the _ga cookie in the <iframe>, allowing hits from the parent and the <iframe> to use the same Client ID.

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One of the most prominent features of Google Tag Manager since the dawn of time (actually, late 2012) is the Custom HTML tag. This little piece of magic lets Google Tag Manager inject an HTML element to the page. Since time immemorial (still late 2012), it's allowed us to turn Google Tag Manager from a sandboxed prisoner of the native tag templates to a no-holds-barred client-side content management solution. In this article, we'll discuss how the Custom HTML tag works, and what you might be tempted to use it for.

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One of the prime things to use Google Tag Manager for is script injection. Loading a third-party JavaScript library is trivial to do with a Custom HTML tag, and works like a charm. However, using Custom HTML tags for, well, anything, is no longer the preferred way to add custom code to the site. Custom HTML tags are pretty expensive DOM injections, and they can be incredibly dangerous tools (for UX, security, and privacy) in the wrong and/or inexperienced hands.

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Author's picture

Simo Ahava

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

Senior Data Advocate at Reaktor

Finland