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An understanding of the Data Layer…
As I started putting together the details for this product update, I couldn’t help recalling the handful of conversations I’ve had regarding the definition of a data layer and its usage.
While I’m sure there are many who maintain a firm understanding of the topic, I am equally sure there are some with less knowledge or experience than they would like. To that end, here are a few links to help with understanding the data layer:
- What is a Data Layer? – Tealium
- Customer Experience Digital Data Layer 1.0 (A.K.A. – the W3C standard for Data Layers) – See the Introduction
- Analytics and Data Layers: A Look Under the Hood – by Jeff Chasin
- The Data Layer – by Simo Ahava
So, now that we’re all on the same page, let’s discuss the steps for monitoring data layer in ObservePoint.
Data Layer Support Summary
ObservePoint supports the naming of a single data layer object per ObservePoint Property (ideally matching a domain/set of domains). If no object name is defined, then the W3C object (‘digitalData’) is used as the default. This is managed in the “Property Settings” tab. Reporting for data layer details is similar to that of tags, in which variables are scanned from the object with values aggregated and reported on a per page basis.
Steps to Setup
1. Identify your data layer
a. Discuss/identify with your developers
I. There may be multiple ‘data layer’ type objects in use on your site(s). It pays to use the correct one the first time. Considerations should include identifying ‘out of the box’ objects as well as custom objects.
II. Optional – Confirm with your Tag Management System configuration.
b. Direct confirmation
I. Avoid assumptions – Once you know the object name, confirm it in the console of your web browser. To do so, open the console and type in the object name. If it exists, it should auto-complete for you. Press ‘Tab’ to auto-complete. Below are several examples of data layer output for reference:
Data layer object name = dataLayer (Google Tag Manager)
Data layer object name = digitalData (W3C Standard)
Data layer object name = _hddata (custom object)
2. Configure the data layer object in your Property
a. Go to Home > (find your selected property), click the Settings icon.
b. Enter the object name and click ‘SAVE’.
c. If no object name is defined, the Property, and all audits or simulations contained therein, default to ‘digitalData’, which is the W3C standard for data layer objects.
d. Dot syntax is supported. For example, if it is a member of a larger object, best practice is to limit the definition of the data layer to the portion of the object that is specific to that purpose.
e. Some common object names are:
I. digitalData – W3C
II. dataLayer – Google Tag Manager
III. utag_data – Tealium
f. Objects to avoid:
I. __satellite – Adobe Dynamic Tag Manager (DTM): Why avoid this? It is a large, system generated object that contains more than just digital consumer data. If there is a member of this object that is specifically defined for data layer usage, then best practice would be to use that portion of the object only. (Correction from the original post – It was indicated that _satellite was generated by Adobe Experience Manager [AEM], which is incorrect. The AEM generated data layer is CQANALYTICS – Credit: Rudi Shumpert).
II. Large objects in general – while even large objects are supported, it makes reporting and understanding that data difficult. Variables should be specific to your vendor tag implementations. If more than that is contained therein, then the utilization of that object of data layer usage should be reconsidered.
Once the Property settings have been updated, reporting details can be found in the following:
- Summary Reports > Variables > Data Layer
- Summary Reports > Tags > Data Layer
- Tag Reports > (All reports)
- Compliance Reports > Business Compliance (if set)
- Simulation Summary
The Future of the Data Layer
The data layer plays a key role that will not be going away anytime soon. As such, ObservePoint is already planning future updates to enhance the functionality to simplify and automate the setup and monitoring process. We look forward to sharing these updates with you in the not too distant future.
Image Credit: Parg
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