Tracking First | Blog
blog,paged,paged-6,,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.3.5,vc_responsive


04 Aug Analytics and Marketing: Taming the Last Frontier

Not that many years ago, the field of data analytics was like the wild west, with stakeholders making their claims without considering how their interests should be governed within a wider community. But now, maverick analytics implementations are a dying breed. Tag Management Systems are here to provide order, allowing us to lay out standardized tags across our digital properties like so many row houses. From there, we can deploy the beat cops of Tag Auditing Solutions to patrol the streets and catch tracking anomalies early.
Read More

01 Aug Analytics: the View from 30,000 Feet

Looking down from a height at the world of analytics code tracking and campaign reporting, it appears to be a swarm of complex interactions and elaborate interconnections. However, for all its involved architecture there are really only four ways to break campaign reporting. Hence there are just four things a company must check before each campaign launch: code composition, code classification, link assembly, and capture logic. These requirements are not difficult to follow on their own—but any misstep along the line will completely break the tracking.
Read More

18 May Data Protection Plan

Adobe Summit in London, May 2016

Hours ago I wrapped up my latest speaking engagement: a co-presentation with Adobe’s Jan Exner. Jan and I have been working from two different ends of the same problem: the need for better structure beneath analytics implementations. For years he’s been pushing the idea on the development side, while I’ve been preaching it from the marketing/analytics side.
Read More

07 Mar Everybody Hates Sub-Classifications…But Not Us

Since their inception, Sub-Classifications (aka Nested Classifications) have come to represent a hiss and a byword among most Adobe Analytics/Omniture veterans. Flat vs Nested Classifications Examples

Flat Classifications (left) are, as a reliable rule, better than Sub-Classifications (right)

In one of his OmnitureCare mailbag blog posts, Adobe Analytics guru Ben Gaines was asked about weirdness in Classification reports. With scarcely any details, Ben guessed that the Adobe client was using Sub-Classifications, and recommended they turn them off. Within that response, he launched a semi-explanation for/semi-diatribe against Sub-Classifications, ending one paragraph with the outburst: What’s the point?
Read More

05 Jan Here’s to Fun and Failure this New Year

One great scene from Arrested Development (my favorite TV comedy) shows the dad trying to course-correct his son, who is so terrified of making mistakes that he actually has a poster in his room with this foreboding caption: "Fun and Failure both start out the same way." George Michael's Mantra
Fear rules George Michael Bluth's life, illustrated by this poster on his closet door.
I realized over the holiday break that I've unwittingly raised kids that are similarly frightened of failure.
Read More

26 Jan SAINT Myth #1: Classification Reports Always Mean What They Say

Picture a Thousand Words (i.e., Make a Chart)

Adobe Analytics clients are genuinely surprised to learn how far off the mark their own reports have strayed. SAINT Classification technology isn't rocket science—anyone who has used a Pivot table or a Lookup function in Excel is capable of getting their head fully around the deep magic involved. I could tell people a thousand times that their reports might not bear scrutiny, but instead let me make the case with four pictures that will do the job better. I was preparing a Tracking First introduction for a client in early January who asked that I use some of his own data for the demo. He sent me a SAINT classification file, and it served really well for the presentation; Tracking First easily detected their preferred style for creating and classifying their codes. Glancing at the spreadsheet itself, however, I saw that it contained many codes that should have been classified but clearly weren't, and so I decided to dig a little deeper and analyze how well this specific SAINT table was being maintained.
Read More

16 Dec SAINT Classifications in Adobe Analytics: Getting Started

Most Used, Least Understood

SAINT Classifications are extremely familiar—many would say all too familiar—among Adobe Analytics/Omniture experts. Although this technology has existed in its present form for over a decade, it remains the most highly-frequented technology within Adobe Analytics reporting system. This insight was provided by Adobe Senior Product Manager John Bates, who at the 2014 Adobe Analytics conference in Utah acknowledged SAINT Classifications as the "most-used feature within Adobe Analytics". Surprisingly, however, there are many misconceptions about this technology, and a dearth of best practices concerning its application. This article is the first in a series of educational posts I'll be publishing over the next few months aimed at remedying that situation.
Read More

08 Dec Omniture Page Tracking with AJAX – Clear the Cache!

Watch out for Bridges and Hop-ons

Omniture Page Calls in AJAX, like the Bluth company stair car, are susceptible to hop-ons Since my tenure there over a decade ago, Omniture has gone through a series of evolutions in its code and business. Nowadays I'm usually pretty good at saying 'Adobe Analytics' instead of 'Omniture', but as the caching issues that plague AJAX page-tracking trace all the way back to those early days, for this one article I'm going old school and using the Omniture name almost exclusively. This is a long article that will eventually boil down to one conclusion: you have to manually clear your "s" object's cached values between each Omniture tracking call you make if you're using AJAX. If you're staying up to date and using the AppMeasurement library instead of Omniture's legacy "H-codes", and particularly if you're running it all through Adobe's TMS (DTM), this chore just got harder, so this article also provides a couple of workarounds for those situations.
Read More

18 Aug DTM and the Case for Direct Call Rules

Cut to the Chase

If you're here to learn how to implement Direct Call Rules in Adobe's Dynamic Tag Manager (DTM), you should jump to the end. There's almost no documentation anywhere else online showing you how to set up Direct Calls, and even less information about why you would even want to. But based on the experience of my last week, I'm unlikely to ever use anything else. So before I explain how, I want to focus on the why. This post is the story of my conversion, and the light-bulb moment (or rather, lightning-bolt) which convinced me to switch from Event-Driven Rules to Direct Call Rules.


My first real exposure to DTM came this past March at the Adobe Analytics conference in Salt Lake City. In a roomful of non-developers, the presenters’ message resonated powerfully: DTM would set us free. Perhaps nothing that dramatic was actually said, but I do remember after each example that they wrapped up with the same phrase: “and see how I did it without writing a single line of code.” The clear message that I took away was that I’ve been beholden to the code-writers for too long, and DTM offered me the mechanism to take control of the analytics capture across my site.
Read More