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I really like Google Optimize. It has a fairly intuitive UI, setting up experiments is easy, and there’s integrations for both Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics built into the system. It’s still a JavaScript-based, client-side A/B-testing tool, so problems with flicker and asynchronous loading are ever-present (though this is somewhat mitigated by the page-hiding snippet). One issue with the Google Analytics integration is the difficulty of creating segments for sessions where the users were actively participating in the experiment.

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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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More often than not, much of what we do in web analytics can be automated. This applies especially to implementations, audits, configurations, and reporting. So when I’m faced with a menial, manual task that might take hours for me to complete if done by hand, I always look at what could be done with some scripting and API work. I want to introduce a couple of Google Sheets add-ons I’ve written and released to the public.

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Autocomplete search is a tricky thing to track. The underlying logic is that when the user starts feeding characters into a search form, the search suggests results based on a limited input. If the user is not satisfied with the results, they can continue adding characters to the search, thus increasing the accuracy. Often there’s also the option to revert to a regular search with what they’ve already written. Tracking this logic in tools like Google Analytics is difficult, because there’s really no way to know if the search was successful.

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To be fair, this tip isn’t just for Google Tag Manager but for regular old on-page Google Analytics as well. It’s one of those little things that’s corroding your data quality without you ever realizing it. Namely, this tip is about how to handle cross-domain tracking in situations where you are sending data to multiple Google Analytics properties on the same page. It’s a very typical scenario - you have a “local” property, which tracks only the traffic of the current site, and then a “rollup” property, where you send data from all your organization’s websites.

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UPDATE 20 December 2016: I made some fixes to the solution - be sure to grab the latest code snippet from below! Having worked in all sorts of Google Analytics projects over the years, I’ve found myself more and more interested in the technical underpinnings of digital analytics rather than the actual analytical work. We all play to our respective strengths, I guess. For example, there are still many purely technical / technological mysteries surrounding Google Analytics, because much of the data processing is done server-side.

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This article is a collaboration between Simo and Dan Wilkerson. Dan’s one of the smartest analytics developers out there, and he’s already contributed a great #GTMTips guest post. It’s great to have him back here sharing his insight on working with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). So, we’re back on AMP! Simo wrote a long, sprawling AMP for Google Tag Manager guide a while ago, and Dan has also contributed to the space with his guide for AMP and Google Analytics.

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Simo Ahava

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

Senior Data Advocate at Reaktor

Finland