17 March 2018: MeasureCamp London
5 years ago, on 1st October 2012, this lovely video popped up in Google’s Analytics Blog: It was accompanied by a blog post, which contained a brief look into many of Google Tag Manager’s key features, some of which are still relevant today. Google Tag Manager is a free tool that consolidates your website tags with a single snippet of code and lets you manage everything from a web interface.

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Universal Analytics can collect Page Timing data from users that load your pages. This data is populated in to the Behavior -> Site Speed -> Page Timings report, and it’s a very useful feature for optimizing your website. However, there’s a murky underside to this generous feature. The way Page Timings collection works is that when Pageview hits are sent from the site, a sample of these (1% by default) are automatically followed by a timing hit which includes page performance data grabbed from the Navigation Timing API.

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Ever since the Lookup Table variable was introduced in Google Tag Manager, users have been craving for more. The Lookup Table does exactly what it promises: lookups. These are exact match operations, which are extremely inexpensive to perform, because they can only have a binary result: either the match exists in the data store being queried or it doesn’t. This performance stays constant even if the data store being queried increases in size.

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There’s a fabled, mythical beast that prowls the jungles of digital marketing. They have no issues with running and analyzing crawler data, offering suggestions for server-side redirects, building remarketing audiences, implementing tag management solutions, speaking of Data Layers, copy-pasting code from Stack Overflow, configuring bid managers, and speaking at conferences presenting on all the aforementioned activities. However, for some reason, they still claim that they are “non-technical”, or “just marketers”.

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Let’s cut straight to the chase. Google Tag Manager has just released the YouTube Video trigger, which gives you native support for YouTube video tracking. And it’s great! Even though we’ve been more than satisfied with the excellent tracking scripts provided by e.g. Cardinal Path and LunaMetrics (with a small modification from yours truly), this is a no-brainer for native support in Google Tag Manager. The YouTube Video trigger checks pretty much all the boxes I’d expect in a video tracking trigger.

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Sending personally identifiable information (PII) to Google Analytics is one of the things you should really avoid doing. For one, it’s against the terms of service of the platform, but also you will most likely be in violation of national, federal, or EU legislation drafted to protect the privacy of individuals online. In this #GTMTips post, I’ll show you a way to make sure that any tags you configure this solution with will not contain strings that might be construed as PII.

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The steady increase in mobile use over the last years has introduced some new challenges for web analytics. It’s not just about mismatches in the tracking model (the concept of sessions is even more absurd for apps than it is for desktop browsing), but about something more fundamental, more basic. Think about it: if a visitor visits the website using a mobile device, there’s a significant chance of them losing internet connectivity and going unintentionally offline.

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Simo Ahava

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

Senior Data Advocate at Reaktor

Finland