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How to Validate Marketing Tags and Pixels



Introduction

Proper web tracking and measurement are vital to advertising. Accurate data helps optimize and report on campaign performance. The technical details can become overwhelming and seem like too much to handle. You may be tempted to sit back and hope that tracking comes through correctly rather than proactively checking it.

In this article, we will cover how to check which tags exist on a site, which information is sent, and proper tag setup. We will utilize a few plugins and techniques to assess the accuracy and troubleshoot problems.

What is Tag Validation, and Why Does it Matter?

Tag validation is the process of checking which tags fire and what information they send. This is necessary for implementing new tags and diagnosing tracking errors. Proper validation ensures that you can trust your data and make informed decisions based on that data.

How to Use Tools to Check Your Tags

Most users are familiar with setting up a tag and waiting for data to populate in the ad platforms. This is helpful but it is not diagnostic. You may see the data output, but you can’t see the collection process in real-time.

Tools and plugins can make this process straightforward and accessible. There are no arcane tricks or technical knowledge needed either!

Tag Tracking Plugin Types

There are two main types, those created by the ad platforms and third-party tools. 

Most major ad platforms have browser extensions to check site tracking. These can be helpful for diagnosing specific tag structures or details.

Third-party tools are more robust in coverage. They monitor the network requests to help sort and organize the logs into a readable format. This allows you to look at multiple tags at once and get a better understanding of the complete tracking situation on a page.

Platform-Specific Plugins

Platform plugins can be helpful due to the specifics they provide. Facebook for instance easily breaks out the attributes of each event which can be helpful when you are creating dynamic remarketing ads.

Assistants such as the Google Tag Assistant will flag issues with the tags, point out errors, and suggest implementation updates.

google tag assistant

Here is a list of helpful ad platform plugins:

These are best if you are working with a limited range of platforms or you’d like a guided approach to troubleshooting. These plugins can be your first check to ensure tags function as they should. If you need more flexibility, there are plugins for that too!

Third-Party Plugins

Third-party plugins are helpful for:

  • Tracking multiple types of requests
  • Providing running logs across pages
  • Making the networks’ requests tab more readable

Two great options are Omnibug and Web Analytics Solution Profiler(WASP). Both live in the developer tab of your browser.

Both plugins offer a cleaner view of tags and respective requests on site. WASP visualizes the requests as a tree and organizes files, scripts, and information by platform. This collects all the relevant info on the page together.

wasp tag outline

Omnibug provides the data in a list format that can be expanded or collapsed as needed. It’s also easier to follow as you move page to page and want to skim a running log. This is helpful for tracking funnel activities.

omnibug multipage report

One of the perks of WASP is that it covers everything, and it is not limited to supported platforms only. This can be helpful when tracking new platforms or non-advertising specific activity.

Closing

Most tagging issues are related to typos or misfirings. Utilizing these tools can remove the technical barrier of tagging. Rather than looking at a network log, you receive a readable output of what is communicating on site. 

Each tool gives you a different view of what could be wrong and how your setup is performing on-site. Even if you don’t place the tags, these tools give you the ability to troubleshoot issues and point out discrepancies to your analytics or web teams.



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