[UA] Tag Assistant Recordings example analysis

Learn how to use Google Tag Assistant Recordings by seeing specific examples.

This article describes several examples of using Google Tag Assistant Recordings to find and fix Analytics configuration issues.

In this article:


You run (the purely fictitious) Frank's Device Embellishment Emporium, an ecommerce business selling laptop stickers, phone cases and other mobile device accessories. The site comprises two main domains: shop.frdeemem.com, which is the primary destination and product catalog, and pay.frdeemem.com, which runs the shopping cart and payment systems. The site uses Analytics (with the Universal Analytics tag) and is Ecommerce-enabled. Your marketing campaigns include auto-tagged Google Ads ads.

To test your site implementation and Analytics configuration, you record a flow that mimics a typical user journey:

  1. Open a new tab in your Chrome browser.
  2. Do a Google search that displays one of your Google Ads display ads.
  3. Click the Google Tag Assistant extension and click Record.
  4. Reload the search results: this ensures the starting search page is part of the recorded flow. (In the analysis below, this page is shown as m.frdeemem.com.)
  5. Click the display ad. This action takes you to the shop.frdeemem.com website.
  6. Select an item from the catalog ("Say, that Google Gopher sticker would look great on my new Chromebook!").
  7. Add the item to the shopping cart.
  8. Click the Checkout button. This action takes you to the pay.frdeemem.com site.
  9. Complete the transaction by providing your billing, shipping and payment information, then click Place Order. This action takes you to the Thank You page, located back on shop.frdeemem.com website.
  10. End the recording by clicking the Google Tag Assistant extension and clicking Stop.
  11. Display the Analytics report and examine the results.

When you look at the report, you immediately see a number of issues have been found by Google Tag Assistant Recordings and are being displayed in the Alerts section of the report:

GTR Errors and Warnings
Google Tag Assistant Recordings alerts

Alert #1: Additional sessions

The first alert we find is a warning that a hit started an additional session. To investigate, click the message. This jumps us down to the Thank You page load. Looking at the hit and campaign Information sections for that page load we see the following:

  Hit Information 
  Hit number in session : 1 
  Title : Thank you! 
  URI : /shop?i=thankyou&a=773439574929294020337... 
  Hostname : shop.frdeemem.com 
  Campaign (based on utm_source, utm_medium, ...) 
  Source : pay.frdeemem.com 
  Medium : referral 

Problem: Analytics is considering the transition from your shopping site to your payment site as a referral, thus starting a new session.

Solution: Add pay.frdeemem.com as a referral exclusion in Analytics:

Learn more about referral exclusions.

Alert #2: Missing tags

The "page is most likely missing a tag" warning is fairly straightforward to interpret: Google Tag Assistant Recordings recorded the page load but didn't observe any Analytics tags firing. (Note that this problem could not have been found using Analytics alone unless you pored through all your data and noticed the missing page).

Google Tag Assistant Recordings does not analyze the page source (as Google Tag Assistant does), but rather, monitors the communication between the browser and the websites involved in your flow. Tags might be present on the page but are not firing, possibly due to misconfiguration or other problems in the page code.

Solution: Examine the page source, and if the page has no tag, add it. 

Alert #3: Mangled GCLID

A GCLID is a URL parameter assigned to your auto-tagged Google Ads advertising campaigns.

Problem: whereas the first 2 alerts above were just warnings, this alert is shown in red, because it's an error that can affect you acquisition cost data. When the GCLID parameter is mangled or dropped, your ability to track your Google Ads campaign performance is compromised.

Click on the mangled GCLID error to see more details:

Page load 2 - Stickers
Redirect    :   http://m.frdeemem.com/shop?i=stickers&gcli...
URL         :   http://shop.frdeemem.com/shop?i=stickers&g...
Time        :   3581 ms after page load 1
Hits        :   5 hits (1 properties)

Page had a GCLID parameter, but it was dropped or mangled by redirects. 
Page is most likely missing a tag. 
Page hit (hit #1) - ecommerce

Looking at these details, you can see this occurred in the referral from the search page to your shopping page. Click Redirect to expand that information. You can then see the original GCLID:

Key           Query parameter value
i             stickers
gclid         CjwKEAjw3_ypBRCwoKqKw5P9wgsSJAAbi2K9Ei8q_W... 
utm_source    search-sim

Now click the destination URL and compare it to the original:

Key           Query parameter value
i             stickers
gclid         CjwKEAjw3
utm_source    search-sim

The destination is only receiving the first few characters of the original glclid (up to the first underscore).

Solution: Contact your IT department and ask them to fix the redirect so it doesn't drop the rest of the gclid query parameter.

Alert #4: Slow pageviews

The final alert in your recording session says "Page took a long time to send pageview hit to Analytics." This can occur when the actual page is slow to load, or when the tag is not properly placed on the page, or both.

Problem: When users encounter slow-loading pages, they are likely to give up (bounce) before the page has completely loaded. If the Analytics JavaScript tag is placed in a part of the page that hasn't yet loaded, you may never receive the hit. Or the hit may be sent late in the process. This can impact your metrics and throw off your reporting.

Learn more about page load latency.

Solution: Click on the alert message to see the details:

Google Tag Assistant Recordings slow page load
Slow page load alert

This hit was sent nearly 4 seconds (3792 ms) after the page loaded. This could be because the JavaScript tag is improperly placed. Analytics recommends putting pageview tags immediately below the closing tag of your documents. View the source of the page and if necessary, move the tag to a more appropriate location.

You'll need to re-record the flow with the page tag in its new position.


Getting more information

These 4 alerts are just a small fraction of the issues Google Tag Assistant Recordings can discover. For more information, check out the Google Tag Assistant Recordings alert reference.

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