25 September 2020: MeasureSummit, Virtual
When you use Google Analytics on the web, you are most likely implementing one of analytics.js, the global site tag (gtag.js), or Universal Analytics tags via Google Tag Manager. These libraries all end up doing the same thing: compiling a payload-rich HTTP request to an endpoint at https://www.google-analytics.com. What if you want to have the JavaScript libraries do their job, but instead of sending the data to Google’s servers, you send them to a new, custom endpoint?

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Ever since Server-side tagging was publicly announced at SUPERWEEK 2020, Google and the trusted tester community have been hard at work, building something that just might change the landscape of digital analytics for good. Google Tag Manager has now released Server-side tagging into public beta. In this lengthy article, we’ll take a look at what Server-side tagging is, how it should (and should not) be used, and what its implications are on the broader digital analytics community.

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In this step-by-step guide, I’ll show you how to build a Lookup Table generator in Google Sheets, utilizing Apps Script and the Google Tag Manager API. The purpose of the Lookup Table generator is to automate the often tedious task of adding many, many rows to a Lookup Table within the Google Tag Manager UI. There are other solutions for this, but none (as far as I know) that uses the Google Tag Manager API.

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With the rise of ad and content blockers (think Ghostery and uBlock Origin), as well as browser tracking protections (see www.cookiestatus.com), marketing technology vendors have their work cut out for them. And when I refer to “their work”, I mean they have to proactively identify and exploit any loopholes they can find to keep on collecting their precious data. In this article, I’ll take a look at one such exploit vector, the Canonical Name (CNAME) DNS record, in particular.

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Since updating to Google Chrome 83, you might have noticed that Google Tag Manager’s Preview mode no longer works when browsing Chrome in Incognito mode. This is because starting with Chrome 83, third-party cookies are blocked by default in Incognito windows. Google Tag Manager uses third-party cookies to serve browsers in Preview mode with the container draft rather than the live container. There’s a simple workaround to make sure Preview mode continues working for any site you want to browse in Preview mode.

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Let me start by proclaiming with clarity and sincerity: No, Safari 14 (or any other version of Safari) will not block Google Analytics from loading and running on a website. In the midst of Apple’s yearly Worldwide Developers Conference, the company showcased some of the privacy improvements to the upcoming version of the Safari web browser (version 14). In fact, the biggest revelation was the new Privacy Report, which is designed to elucidate how much the browser is working towards mitigating the damage caused by cross-site trackers.

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On New Year’s Eve 2018, I published an article which instructed how to scrape pages of a site and write the results into Google BigQuery. I considered it to be a cool way to build your own web scraper, as it utilized the power and scale of the Google Cloud platform combined with the flexibility of a headless crawler built on top of Puppeteer. In today’s article, I’m revisiting this solution in order to share with you its latest version, which includes a feature that you might find extremely useful when auditing the cookies that are dropped on your site.

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Author's picture

Simo Ahava

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

Senior Data Advocate at Reaktor

Finland