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Here we are, reunited with customTask. This time, we’ll put this wonderful mechanism to work for a very, very good cause. One of the lesser known “features” of Google Analytics is that when the payload size (the request body that is actually sent to Google Analytics with each request) goes past a certain limit, specifically 8192 bytes, the hit is aborted without warning. This can come as a surprise, because there’s no indication anywhere in Google Analytics that you are missing hits because of this.

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I’ve spent a considerable amount of time talking and writing about how to improve the granularity of your Google Analytics data, especially when using Google Tag Manager. I’ve also gone on and on and on (and on) about customTask, which makes adding metadata to the Google Analytics hits dispatched from your website a breeze. In this article, I’ll introduce a simple way to add yet another level of detail to your GA hits, using customTask as the method of choice.

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Maybe you knew this, maybe you didn’t, but requests sent from your website (or app) to Google Analytics have a maximum size. Or, more specifically, the payload size (meaning the actual content body of the request) has a maximum. This maximum size of the payload is 8192 bytes. This means, basically, that the entire parameter string sent to Google Analytics servers can be no longer than 8192 characters in length.

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If you have been reading my blog articles over the past year, you might have noticed a disturbing trend. I’ve published 9 articles on customTask since the API was released. It might not sound like much, but I can’t think of a single feature in Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager that has so completely convinced me of its usefulness in such a short time. The customTask API is a feature of the Universal Analytics library (used by Google Tag Manager’s tags, too).

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I’m back with another customTask tip, but this time I’m exploring some new territory. Snowplow just introduced their latest version update, which included (among other things) an adapter for processing Google Analytics payloads. Never heard of Snowplow? It’s a collection of open-source libraries designed to let you build your own analytics pipeline, all the way from data collection, through ETL (extract, transform, load), using custom enrichments and JSON schemas, and finally into your own data warehouse, where you can then analyze the data using whatever tools you find preferable.

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A while ago I posted a #GTMTips post where I detailed the steps you can take to opt-out of all Google Analytics tracking and the DoubleClick redirects that often follow. It was a fun exercise, but because it relies on preventing requests on a tag-by-tag basis (using the ubiquituous customTask), it can be a chore to handle in large containers. In this article, we’ll continue with the theme of opting out from Google Analytics tracking by leveraging a solution provided by the tool itself.

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Google Tag Manager makes it fairly easy to do cross-domain tracking. Basically, you list the hostnames you want to automatically decorate with linker parameters in the Auto-Link Domains field of your Page View tag, and that takes care of decorating the URLs with the necessary parameter. It’s dead easy, even if there are a bunch of traps you need to watch out for (see my post on troubleshooting cross-domain tracking issues).

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Simo Ahava

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

Senior Data Advocate at Reaktor

Finland