Using ObservePoint’s Rules Engine for Robust Tag Validation

July 12, 2017 Matt Thomas

Tag validation is the process of ensuring all technologies deployed on your website or app are functioning properly and collecting the expected data. Validating your tags are firing when, where and how you expect will help ensure your implementation remains clean, consistent, compliant and, most importantly, accurate.

As the industry leader in tag validation services, ObservePoint provides a robust platform for validating your web and app technologies.

Through what are known as audits and journeys, ObservePoint scours your website or app and collects data about your MarTech vendors, namely the analytics and marketings tags responsible for measuring user behavior and triggering real-time marketing automation.

ObservePoint’s basic audit and journey reports provide significant insight into the status of your implementation, reporting back the presence of tags, variables and values to be analyzed at your discretion.

But for data governance pros hoping to take their tag validation to the next level, ObservePoint’s robust Rules Engine enhances the level of automation and visibility into MarTech deployment.

The What and Why of the Rules Engine

The Rules Engine is a feature within the ObservePoint application that allows users to outline expected values to look for when auditing a website or mobile app. This allows users to validate for tag and variable presence as well as variable values, with a high level of customization.

The key benefits of using the rules engine are:

Customized reports and notifications — After a rule is applied to an audit or journey, ObservePoint generates customized reports and notifications that outline instances in which any rule fails, passes or is not applied (based on the conditions outlined by the end user).

Dynamic business requirements documentation — All rules built using the Rules Engine are added to your Rules Library, which serves as a dynamic variable documentation, often known as a solution design reference (SDR), variable strategy or tagging plan.

Highly granular tag validation — Using the Rules Engine goes one level deeper from simply checking for tag presence—rules allow you to ensure that key values are being captured in the correct format so your analytics metrics and real-time automation are operating on quality data. In addition, rules can be written to ensure certain data is not being collected, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, email addresses or any other PII.

Out-of-the-box best practice rules — ObservePoint has put together a portfolio of ready-to-use rules to validate your Adobe Analytics or Google Analytics tags to ensure they comply with industry best practices.

People spend a lot of money on their MarTech vendors. Targeted tag validation at scale is the line of demarcation between the data governance heroes and the data governance hacks.

Creating a Rule

There are two ways to approach the process of creating rules, which will depend on the use case and your company’s level of data governance maturity.

Method #1 Creating a rule from scratch

If your company already has a well-defined variable strategy, you can go into the Rules Engine and create a rule based on your variable documentation.

To do this, launch the Rule Library. Notice there are already several out-of-the-box rules for Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics.

Click on the Create New Rule button. A modal will appear where you can define an intuitive rule name, add labels to group together related rules and include the email of recipients who should be notified when a rule fails.

Click Set Up Rule. On the following screen, specify under what conditions the rule should be applied by defining the filter, operator and value under the “If” section.

You can filter based on URL, status code or tag. Example use cases for these different filtering options include:

URL: Ensure tag and variable presence on a specific category of pages. For example, you could validate that all pages with /product/ in the URL contain a variable capturing the product SKU.

Status code: Ensure tag presence based on status code, such as validating that all 400 error pages have analytics variables to capture the referring link so the 400 issue can be remedied.

Tag: Identify a combination of tags and variables that should always be present together, such as an Adobe Analytics variable capturing referral sources for purchase events alongside a pay-per-acquisition tag like the Facebook Conversion pixel.

You also have the option of defining an “else” condition, so that if the “then” condition is not met, the rule will check to see if the “else” statement returns true.

Once you save a rule, it will be added to your Rule Library.

Method #2 Creating a rule from your existing implementation

You also have the option of creating new rules from your web and mobile app journeys. After running a web or app journey, simply navigate to a step in the journey report, and next to each tag discovered you will be able to add a new rule.

Rules can be created and applied as is, or further configured by clicking on the Customize Selected Variables button in the modal that appears after clicking the button to add a new rule.

Applying A Rule

To a new web audit:

When creating a new audit, scroll down and open the Advanced section. There you will be able to select the rules from the Rule Library you wish to include, either by rule or label name.

To an existing web audit:

Use the ellipsis to edit the configuration of the audit. From this screen add the rules you want to apply on the next run.  The rule results (pass, fail or not applied) will be visible on completion of the next run.

(Note: Rules can be processed retroactively on past web audits, but not web or app journeys. To do this, select the ellipses in the top right corner while an audit is open and select “Reprocess Rules.”

To a new web/app journey:

When creating a web journey, you have the option of applying rules globally to evaluate across all steps, similar to the way you apply rules to audits. Otherwise, rules are applied on a step-by-step basis for both web and app journeys.

To an existing web/app journey:

To add a new rule to a web/app journey, you can either create a new rule based on the tags found in the journey (see above Method #2 Creating a rule from your existing implementation), or you can edit the journey by clicking on the ellipses in the top right corner.


After you have applied rules, and then run an audit or journey, the information will be shown in the Reports section. In the reports you will see lists of the audited pages or journey actions where the rules failed, passed or were not applied, depending on the conditions laid out in the rule. You can then dig into the data to identify where issues occurred and isolate any one-off failures or systemic issues.

Example: Web Audits

Foster Tag Validation Success with the Rules Engine

Rules are a key differentiator for data governance professionals seeking to increase the visibility of MarTech deployment through automation. It allows data stakeholders to take the data bull by the horns and stay in the know of how technologies work alongside each other.

Request a free audit to see how the Rules Engine can help keep you informed and boost your data governance strategy.


About the Author

Matt Thomas

Matt Thomas has worked with product implementation and development since 2007, working for high-profile software companies like Omniture and Adobe, and consulting both domestically and internationally for renowned tech giants including Apple, Inc. and Telstra. His area of expertise is customer-centric product development, working with cross-functional teams to create an intuitive platform and positive customer experience. Before ObservePoint, Matt worked at Needle, an industry-leader in advocate-powered customer experience, which heightened his passion for CX optimization.

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