In Google Analytics, the concept of a session is the key aggregation unit of all the data you work with. It’s so central to all the key metrics you use (Conversion Rate, Bounce Rate, Session Duration, Landing Page), and yet there’s an underlying complexity that I’m pretty certain is unrecognized by many of GA’s users. And yet, since this idea of a session is so focal to GA (to the point of being overbearing), it’s annoying that the browser isn’t privy to any of the sessionization parameters that Google Analytics applies to the hits sent from the browser to its servers.
One of the coolest features of Google Analytics and, as a consequence, Google Tag Manager is customTask. It’s a method you can use to add and execute code as the hit to Google Analytics is being generated. I’ve written A LOT about customTask, and much of the feedback I’ve received has been around the question of how to combine all these different tricks into one customTask script. The problem is, you see, that a tag or hit can only have one customTask script attached to it, so the code within must combine all the different tricks I’ve been writing about over the past months.
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.
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.
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. The thing is, if the payload exceeds this, Google Analytics simply drops the hit.
Last updated 4 September 2018 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.
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.