Guide to Google Tag Assistant Recordings

This article is in conjunction with the article: Complete Guide to Google Tag Assistant where I explained tag assistant in great detail.

Google Tag Assistant recording is one of the features of Google Tag Assistant.

Google Tag Assistant Recording is used to identify, validate and troubleshoot the installation of various Google Tags across many pages.

Google Tag Assistant by default can’t validate tags across multiple pages.

But by using the recording feature, you can make the tag assistant to validate tags across many pages.

Through the recording feature, not only you can record the tags across many pages but you can also record events and interactions for any set of pages you visit, either on your own website or some other website(s).

The tag assistant recording feature comes really handy when you want to see which tags, events and interactions were fired during a checkout process.

So for example, if a user is redirected to another website to complete a purchase during the checkout process and you have implemented cross domain tracking, you can then check whether the client ID is being shared or not across domains.

Tag assistant recording can also record tags, events and interaction on the web pages which are dynamically created.

For example web pages which were dynamically created during the checkout process.

Note: Google Tag Assistant recording will only record tags and events related to your browsing activities and that too while the recording is enabled. It won’t record tags and events related to browsing activities of all of your website users.

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Using Google Tag Assistant Recording

To use Google Tag Assistant recording, follow the steps below:

Step-1:Make sure that:

#1 Google tag assistant and Google Analytics debugger extensions are installed and enabled.

#2 Google Analytics debugger is turned on and there is no add-on or firewall setting which is stopping the GA tags from getting fired.

#3 The Level of Details’ for all Google tags is set to ‘Detailed Information’ , the ‘Recording: Follow Links Across Tabs’ checkbox is checked and no tag is turned off in the tag assistant options settings.

Step-2: Login to your Google Analytics account and make sure that you have at least ‘read and analyze’ permission at the view level whose data you are going to analyze via Google tag assistant recording.

If you are not already logged in, then later, you won’t be able to see the ‘Google Analytics Report’ of the ‘Tag Assistant recording’:

Google Analytics Report

On the other hand, if you do not have ‘read and analyze’ permission at the view level, then you won’t be able to see view specific information in ‘Google Analytics Report’ of the ‘tag assistant recording’.

Tag assistant recording will then display the following notification, once you clicked on the ‘Google Analytics Report’ link, to let you know, that you don’t have the permission to see view-specific information:

view specific information

This has been done to protect your analytics data from unauthorized views.

Step-3: Go to the web page from where you want to start the tag assistant recording. So if you are testing your checkout process, your starting page could be a product detail page.

Step-4: Click on the Google Tag Assistant icon and then click on the ‘Menu’ button > ‘Show in separate tab’:

show in seperate tab

Step-5: Click on the ‘Record’ button at the bottom of the ‘Result of Tag Analysis’ window:

result of tag analysis.2jpg

Once you clicked on the ‘Record’ button, you will see the following message: “Recording feature is enabled and will be effective from the next request“:

recording feature enabled

Step-6: Now reload the web page from where you want to start the recording. This reload will send a request/hit to Google Tag Assistant and your recording will actually start.

Step-7: Look for small ‘red’ icon just below the Google tag assistant icon:

recording in progress

This red icon confirms that the recording is actually taking place. If you don’t see this red icon, then it means recording has not started.

Step-8: Navigate to all those web pages whose tags, events and interactions you want to record. So if you are testing your checkout process, your user journey could be:

  1. view a product detail page
  2. add items to the shopping cart
  3. proceed to the checkout page
  4. enter shipping and billing details
  5. confirm and place your order

You would want to record interactions with all of these pages.

Step-9: Once your recording is complete, go to the ‘Result of Tag Analysis’ window and click on the ‘Stop Recording’ button:

stop recording

show full report

At this point, if you want to resume your recording, then click on the ‘Resume Recording’ button.

Note: It is important to remember that, there is no ‘Pause’ button in tag assistant. So even if you want to pause your recording, you need to click on the ‘Stop Recording’ button.

Also worth noting is the text, below the ‘Your latest recordings’ which is:

2 pages tracked
6 tags were fired

These are the recording details of what is being tracked. Pay attention to these details and make sure that you have recorded all the required pages.

Step-10: Click on the ‘Show Full Report‘ button. Once you clicked on this button, you will be redirected to entirely different interface of ‘Google Tag Assistant Recordings’:

google tag assistant recordings

From the screenshot above, we can see that, Google Tag Assistant Recordings have got two reports:

#1 Tag Assistant Report

#2 Google Analytics Report

In order to benefit from tag assistant recordings, you need to understand these two reports.

Tag Assistant Report

This report list the details of various tags fired on a page or across pages/websites you visited during the recording.

Let us explore the various sections of this report:

Print and Filter Tags

print filter

Print – click on this link to take a print out of the Google Tag Assistant Recording data.

One of the limitations of Google tag assistant recording is that, it saves only the Google Analytics report data of the recording. It does not save ‘Tag Assistant Report’ data.

To fix this problem, you would need to print out the ‘Google Tag Assistant’ report of the recording and save it on your hard disk. Just save the print out in a PDF file format.

Filter Tags – click on the checkbox(es) to show or hide tags in the ‘Tag Assistant Report’.

For example, if you un-check the ‘Google Analytics’ checkbox, then all of the information about this tag will hide in the ‘Tag Assistant Report’. This feature come handy, if lot of tags are firing on a page and you want to remove the clutter to see only the tags you are working on.

Details

details

Basic View – if you select this view, then certain information (like Code Version/Syntax, Protocol version number 1 etc) won’t be visible in the tag section of the report.

Detailed View – if you select this view, then additional information (like Code Version/Syntax, Protocol version number 1 etc) would be visible in the tag section of the report. This view is selected by default.

basic detailed view

Expand/Collapse pages and tags

 

expand collapse pages tags

Use these buttons to expand/collapse recorded pages or tags in the ‘Tag Assistant Report’.

 

Buckets

bucketsUse this button to expand/collapse hits (requests) in a recorded tag:

bucket collapse

bucket expand

Show/Hide Ignored Models

show hide ignored models

Use this slider to show/hide ignored pages or issues.

Hide Page/Issue

Before you can use this slider, you first need to hide pages or issues in the Tag Assistant Report. Click on the – (minus) button next to a page/issue you want to hide:

hide the page

Note: Ignored pages will continue to appear in the Google Analytics report of the recording.

hide the issue

Note: If you want to get more information about a particular issue, then click on the ‘?’ button.

Once you have hidden a page/issue, use the ‘Show/Hide Ignored Models’ button to see the hidden page/issue again.

 

Un-Hide Page/Issue

In order to un-hide the ignored page/issue, click on the + button

unhide the page

Note: the ignored page is grayed out. But once you clicked on the + button, the page will no longer remain grayed out.

 

Recording Summary

recording summary

As the name suggest, recording summary provides a summary of the tag assistant recordings. The summary usually includes:

  • number of pages recorded
  • number of hits recorded
  • property IDs

Note: If you click on a property ID in the ‘recording summary’, it will take you to the corresponding Google Analytics report of the recording.

Recorded Pages

recorded pages

This section of the Tag Assistant report list all of the recorded pages in the form of cards.

Each card represents a page load/pageview. So if you load same web page twice, you will see two cards in your Tag Assistant report for the same page:

same page loaded twice

So there is no guarantee that the number of recorded pages would always be the same, as the number of unique pages viewed during the recording.

Clicking on a card, will show you details the page load as well details of all the tags fired during the page load:

page load details

Here,

URL – is the URL of the loaded page

Time – data and time when the page was loaded. For example: Dec 19, 2015 03:10:03 PM

Page Load – number of seconds in which the page complete loading.

Tags – number of tag found on the page

Note the green and blue tags. They carry the same meaning as in Google Tag Assistant.

Blue tag means it is not a perfectly valid tag because of some non-standard implementation. Whereas green tag means it is a perfectly valid tag.

If you click on one of these tags, you can see more details about the tag:

click on tag

tag details

If you click on the ‘pageview’ hit, you can see more details about that hit:

hit details

The URL here represents the GIF request. If you click on this URL, you will see the GIF request in tabular format, which makes it easy to read the GIF request:gif request

That’s how you can read the Google Tag Assistant report.

Google Analytics Report

This report shows how your recorded data would look when processed by your selected GA property and view.

Through this report you can determine issues like:

  • pages missing tags
  • invalid custom dimensions
  • missing user ids
  • dropped GCLIDs
  • sessions breaking across domains etc

To open Google Analytics report, click on its link in the top navigation:

Google Analytics Report

You will then be asked to select your property and view (provided you are already logged into GA and you have the right access):select view

Select your property and view and then click on the ‘ok’ button. You will then see the ‘Google Analytics report’ of the tag assistant recording.

Let us explore the various sections of this report:

ga report left navigation

Update Report – once you have made changed to your website and/or GA configuration, click on this link to reload and update the Google Analytics report with fresh data.

Select View – click on this link, to select a different property and view.

Change location – click on this link to change the location, your traffic appears to come from. Use this feature to test how different locations might effect your report data.

Open – click on this link to open a tag assistant recording file (with the file extension .harz)

Save – click on this link to save your tag assistant recording. You save tag assistant recording, so that you can analyse it later, share it with others and you don’t need to repeat the recording steps, in order to see the tag analysis report again.

Once you have made the necessary changes on your website/Google Analytics, you can run the saved recording against the new GA configuration. In this way, you don’t need to do the recording over and over again, in order to validate and debug Google tags.

When you run the saved recording, the hits in the recording are not sent to Google Analytics, which prevents inflating your traffic data while debugging.

You can use tag assistant recording even to validate and diagnose Google tags found on a single page. Since tag assistant recording provides much more information than tag assistant, I often use tag assistant recording even for analyzing a single page.

If you don’t save your recording, it will automatically delete, once you close your browser window or start a new recording.

Note: You can’t run more than one tag assistant recording at a time. If you do, then tag assistant will ask you to stop the previous recording first:recording already active

Print – click on this link to take a print out of ‘Google Analytics report’.

Help – click on this link to learn more about tag assistant recording. You will be redirected to Google’s help documentation on tag assistant recordings.

Feedback – click on this link if you want to leave feedback on tag assistant recording.

 

details2

Page loads – click on this link to expand or collapse the page load details in the Flow section of the Google Analytics report.

Page hits – click on this link to expand or collapse the page hit details in the Flow section of the Google Analytics report.

Event hits – click on this link to expand or collapse the event hit details in the Flow section of the Google Analytics report.

Other hits – click on this link to expand or collapse the other hit details in the Flow section of the Google Analytics report.

 

The Google Analytics report of the tag assistant recording is made up of following sections:

  1. Recording Summary
  2. Alerts
  3. Views Summary
  4. Flow

You can jump straight into any section of the GA report by clicking on the link in the ‘Jump to…’ section:

jump to

Recording Summary

recording summary2

As the name suggest, the recording summary provides the summary of the GA report data.

Note: If you have imported a save recording then the ‘Recording filename’ field will show the name of the recording file (like optimizesmart_dec15.harz). Otherwise, it will display the message ‘(recorded from extension)’.

 

Alerts

alerts

This section shows errors, warnings and suggestion for improving your GA/GTM configuration. Click on an alert to see more details.

Note: You can see the complete list of recording alerts here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/6277326

 

Views Summary

This section displays how the recorded hits would appear in the Audience, Acquisition, Behavior and Conversions reports of the selected view:views summary

behavior conversions

Audience – through this section you can validate the traffic location.

Acquisition – through this section you can validate campaign source and medium dimensions.

Behavior – through this section you can validate filters and events.

Conversions – through this section you can validate both goal conversions and ecommerce transactions.

 

Flow

This is the most important section of Google Analytics report as it shows recording details for each page and hits sent from each page.

This section is made up of number of cards where each card represents a page load:

flow report2

Click on a card to see the recording details for a page and all the hits sent from that page:

flow report

Here,

URL – is the url of the loaded page

Time – is the data and time when the page was loaded.

Hits – number of hits generated by the page and the number of GA properties receiving these hits.

That’s how you can read the Google Analytics report of the Tag Assistant recording.

Watch this short video to learn about debugging the ‘timing’ GA hit and cross domain tracking via the Google Tag Assistant recording feature:

Other article you will find useful: Complete Guide to Google Tag Assistant

Learn about the Google Analytics Usage Trends Tool

The Google Analytics usage trend is a new tool which is used to visualise trends in your Google Analytics data and to perform trend analysis.


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