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Last weekend, I wrote a very simple web app that automatically creates a number of referral spam filters to tackle the problem that seems to have everybody all riled up. For a nice recap of the situation, take a look at this post by Jeff Sauer, or this article by Mike Sullivan. This isn’t an opinion piece, even though I’ve got a great number of opinions about this issue.

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In 2013, I wrote a guide for Universal Analytics and Google Tag Manager on how to poll for weather conditions, and send this information to Google Analytics as a custom dimension of the session. The guide was intended as a technical introduction to Google Tag Manager, and I think it succeeded in that. However, GTM has changed a lot over the last 1.5 years, and I’ve made some improvements to the method along the way.

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I’ve written a completely revamped version of this toolset for Google Tag Manager V2. Well, I just yesterday published the first of my GTM API tools (the Container Visualizer), and I vowed that I wouldn’t release the other tools for a number of reasons. The reasons were good, in my opinion (especially the part about the tools being ugly as crap), but on the other hand I don’t want to keep anyone away from the amazing potential of the new API.

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[UPDATE:] Quite a lot of people had trouble accessing the tool after I published this post. This should now be fixed. So, AWESOME stuff. The new Google Tag Manager UI and API have just rolled out, and I can finally start revealing the stuff I’ve been working on :) I’m not going to go into the new UI in this post. I just want to give a huge thanks to the GTM team for working on the UX with such dedication.

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(Update 19 November 2018: See this article for a more elegant solution.) If you know your JavaScript, you know that all variables, functions, objects, resources, and data in the document get rewritten with every page load. In other words, every single page refresh builds the page from scratch, and the state of the document before the page refresh is left drifting in the ocean of oblivion. Google Tag Manager’s dataLayer is also one such entity.

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You’ve probably come across a number of guides or posts talking about why it’s necessary to block so-called internal traffic from your web analytics reports. The reasons are pretty solid: internal traffic does not emulate normal visitor behavior, it rarely contributes to conversions (skewing up your conversion rate), it inflates page views, and it wreaks havoc on your granular, page-by-page data. Internal traffic is vaguely described as “your employees”, “people really close to your brand”, “your marketing department”, “your web editors”, and so on.

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There is a new version of this post for GTM V2 here. [Last updated June 2014] I’ve fallen in love with Universal Analytics and Google Tag Manager. Together they form an incredibly powerful tool for marketing professionals. In most cases, I no longer need to post recommendations to my client for yet another page template revision, since with the tag manager in place, I can just add custom code via the admin panel.

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Simo Ahava

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

Senior Data Advocate at Reaktor

Finland