27 September 2019: People That Count, Warsaw
One of the myths surrounding Google Analytics is that the first hit of a session should always be a pageview. It makes sense - sessions are initialized with a landing page, and thus need a page view to have one. However, in this article I want to show you empirically how this myth is just that - a myth. There is little discernible impact if the first hit of a session is an event, and GA is more than capable of stitching the first event together with the subsequent pageview into a session entity.

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In Google Tag Manager, the Custom JavaScript variable is an anonymous function with a return statement. It does not take any parameters, and by default it’s impossible to pass any parameters to it, because the Custom JS variable is simply resolved to whatever value the function returns. If it returns a number, for example, passing a parameter to it would make no sense and would result in a TypeError since the variable resolves to a number, not a function.

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Updated 12 March 2019 with some minor clarifications.. On 21st February 2019, WebKit announced the release of the latest iteration of Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), known as ITP 2.1. For a while now, Safari has been targeting cross-site tracking with ITP, first starting with cookies in third-party contexts, then tightening the noose after a number of workarounds emerged, and finally with the latest iteration targeting cookies that were moved from a third-party context to a first-party context.

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Updated 7 March 2019 - Added some extra caveats to this solution. Also, be sure to read my article on ITP 2.1, which has far more detail on what Intelligent Tracking Prevention is and how to work with it. Looks like Safari is tightening the noose around browser cookies with the introduction of ITP 2.1 (Intelligent Tracking Prevention). Among other things, ITP 2.1 caps the expiration of client-side cookies to 7 days.

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The jQuery JavaScript library is by almost any means of counting the most popular JavaScript library used in websites around the world. It’s so influential, in fact, that its evolution is tightly bound to the JavaScript standardization effort itself, and it’s an integral part of the JS Foundation’s efforts to build a community for JavaScript developers. Google Tag Manager, similarly, is the most popular tag management system used in websites, globally.

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A recurring question in the Google Tag Manager communities (e.g. product forums) is how to use an Enhanced Ecommerce dataLayer object with the Facebook pixel code? It’s a common question since running a Facebook conversion pixel on a site that also collects data from the store into Google Analytics’ Enhanced Ecommerce reports is probably a very typical scenario. Side note: Since Google+ is about to go the way of the dodo, I’ve created an archive of the entire community which you can browse and make text searches against.

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I’m a big fan of Enhanced Ecommerce in Google Analytics. In fact, I think it’s the only valid way to deploy Ecommerce tracking today, especially when using Google Tag Manager. The ability to use a Custom JavaScript variable and the possibility to tackle the full ecommerce funnel are some of the benefits of using Enhanced Ecommerce. However, tracking certain view-based events, impressions in particular, has a significant problem when it comes to how Google Analytics processes events.

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Simo Ahava

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

Senior Data Advocate at Reaktor

Finland