When to implement a data layer

Over the last couple of years the web analytics field has moved from being a boring tagging task to a more dynamic task, which allows marketers to implement tagging within minutes… that’s at least what the web analytics vendor are preaching with the introduction of tag managers within the last couple of years.

The truth is, YES, it is simple to apply an AdWords Conversion Script or trigger a event at a certain point. And YES, it will give you much more flexibility when you need to edit tracking codes, but that is only solving 20% of the problem. The main purpose of going down the path of tag management, if you ask me, is not only to solve those issues but it’s much more about building a structured data source on your web site/app where you can collect data from.

The structured data inside your data layer can help you send data to different systems based on the time that the data is present, but most important of it all… it ensures that your data quality is in top.

If you work as an analyst/excel shogun/Digital Analytics ninja, you have probably heard this before “Is the data correct?” If there is the slightest doubt about the quality of data, stakeholders will only use the data as a last resort and that is one of the main reasons that many web analytics solutions aren’t giving stakeholders return on investments.

So the question is, when should you mention the word “data layer”, “tag management” and “data quality” inside your organization or at a meeting? Well, if you can answer yes to any of the following 4 bullets:

  1. If you have multiple websites that are manually tagged with different setups
  2. If you are redesigning your website
  3. If you are deploying a new CMS
  4. If you don’t trust your data

You definitely have a great opportunity to benefit from implementing a data layer and tag management.

If you still aren’t convinced you can find some extra benefits here:

– Makes it easier for developers to understand what data needs to be present and how to code it (no vendor specific knowledge is needed as a W3C standard is defined).

– Changes in the front-end will not affect the data collection.

– Easier to change web analytics vendor and be consistent in the data being collected.