Integration of Web Analytics tags, a daunting task?


I got a remark this week from one of my possible future clients – doing a PoC, Proof of Concept for them – where he mentioned that it seemed actually quite difficult to introduce tags into the “application” we wanted to measure. The application was actually a Flash file and as far as Flash files go, yes, it’s a bit of a hassle but nothing really spectacular as long as you get all the little details right.

It’s actually quite funny how this question came back a couple of times lately and the answer to such a question remains invariably “it depends”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not really complicated and as for any kind of task, it does require some preparation. I often compare it to cooking a dish: integrating the tags is like shopping for your ingredients. Once you’ve got all your ingredients in place, the fun part starts but without one particular ingredient, you might get your dish completly wrong.

So, let’s start with the basics: the products. As you might know if you’re reading this blog, my little business unit distributes and supports WebTrends, Google Analytics (GA) and Instadia, for different reasons.
Globally, the 3 products don’t really differ in their degree of difficulty related to the integration of tags eventhough Instadia wins the simplicity palm for the integration of a single tag. So, yes, WebTrends is more complicated as they for example don’t automatically integrate the tracking of document downloads within the basic tags so you have to mention it specifically.
GA also holds the advantage of a single tag – eventhough it’s a less powerfull product but hey it’s free – and with that the possibility of creating your tag when logging into your GA account. A mater of 3.2 minutes, if you’ve got the right tools and here is how.

Yesterday, the IT team launched Babyboom, a new website and some stats were beginning to roll out, minutes after the lauch. I think we were around 55 subscriptions, after a quarter of an hour or so. As our content mangement system, OniSystem, renders it’s own statistics related to traffic and subscription, I got some traffic stats some time after, just to take a peak. The OniSystem embeds traffic stats based on DB requests that was built, following a discussion I had with our system architect, Nicolas.

As I was wondering whether this data actually still fitted with GA (I often compare results between products just to have a feel for the differences and am pleased to say that for example between GA & WebTrends, the difference is minor, following another test I did yesterday for a traffic acquisition MSN campaign and my Panos client).
GA tags on OniSystemSo I asked Guillaume, our WA IT, to generate a GA tag ID, within our Google Analytics account. I then logged onto the BabyBoom CMS, clicked on sites, edited the settings and introduced the unique ID that Guillaume had just sent to me. Save. Publish. Done. Less than 3.2 minutes actually 😉

For those who have really good eyes, you’ll also see above the red circle the fields for the WebTrends SDC and that unique ID.

Anyhow, an ideal scenario where OX2 manages the Content Management System behind the website and WA has full control on editing new IDs for the tags.

What about other content management systems?
Again, the answer will be (I’m sorry) “it depends”.

The usual manner of integrating tags is going through the templates of a CMS. We’ve for example had great experience with Tridion as they’ve already been through the introduction of tags into their templates with for example Toyota Motor Europe. So it’s a matter of editing the templates, dropping the JavScript includes in, save and done.

The issues often arise in 2 cases: no CMS or “unstructured” development of applications and Flash files.
We encountered the first case during the previous month for an official instance, where a lot of applications had been developed by different third parties. There was no real structure and we had to take each application (there were around 60 of them) seperatly, identifying in each application what could be considered as a conversion event and introducing the code.
Note that this is quite unusual as sets-up the list of tags and then the client, together with his own Interactive Agency, introduces the tags. After all, if we didn’t develop the application, we’re not really the ones that should go into the code and add stuff, IMHO. But here we did, as the beauty of within OX2 lies in the interaction between my business unit and the other departments (IT, Design & eMarketing/Strategy), where IT holds extensive knowledge related to, amongst others, content management systems.

The second case, introduction of tags into Flash files is indeed a bit trickier as this time, you need Flash experience. That’s usually where our Design team comes in as they’re the ones playing around with Flash and mainly Vincent, together with Nicolas and Guillaume as support.
The process I was confronted with the last few weeks was actually a Flash developed by another Interactive Agency (a great company and thanks again for all the help) where we sent through the tags for the different screens and they introduced the tags, created the .swf and uploaded the result to the client’s website.
The problem with Flash is that you can only see the results on your SDC (we were using WebTrends here) but not the actual code in the Flash as it’s published in .swf. For that, you need the .fla, which they sent through.
So we worked together to define where the issues might lie and finally got data rolling in.

In the hope that this might answer some questions I recently had about the integration of tags and the possible complexity of the exercise. Please don’t forget that getting the tags in is like shopping for your dish. After that, you’ve still got to do the cooking and that’s when the fun part starts 😉
I promised René I’d make some “cailles aux figues et aux raisins” this week-end.
Got to get those ingredients now, it finally stopped raining on Brussels.

2 Responses to “Integration of Web Analytics tags, a daunting task?”

  1. Jacques Warren Says:

    Hi Aurélie,

    Yes, tagging a whole site is usually a matter of minutes, based on our experience. Can be longer, but usually tagging the main template will do. It could be a good idea for WebTrends to make the dcsmultitrack a part of the regular tag. I am not a programmer, so I can’t see why it is not.

  2. Michael Notte Says:

    Hi Aurelie,

    Indeed we’ve integrate WebTrends tagging in our Tridion CMS. From basic tagging (content group & sub group, page title are automatically generated based on simple rules) to more advanced tagging (based on the template used, inheritance mechanisms,…). Integrating tagging in a CMS is not very complicated in general I would say. Depends on the complexity of the information that needs to be collected and if rules can be easily automated.

    For Flash integration, we recently developed a new flash framework for our interactive “Focus windows” (see the “Auris” flash on the WT tags values are sent and activated based on a XML file. This makes activation and configuration easier, the framework is reusable and different content is tracked the same way, same structure and reports. Well, we’ve some clever Flash developers over here 🙂

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