October 8, 2021
The Ideal QA Process in Digital Advertising
Picture this: You’ve been working with an agency for years. You move to a new agency only to find out you haven’t been tracking performance properly. Suddenly you scramble to find out what happened and how to fix it. Then, you come to find that all the jargon and acronyms make this a much bigger project than you first thought. Sound familiar?
This is something we see frequently from our clients. However, rest assured that after knowing a few fundamental pieces of tracking, you can solve almost any tracking issue yourself. Over the course of this post, we will walk you through a few scenarios that we commonly see at Metric Theory, as well as the steps to troubleshoot and fix these issues fast.
Before we dive into the scenarios, let’s talk about the new tracking tag that Google Ads has moved advertisers to as of the beginning of 2018. With the advent of Apple’s ITP 2 for IOS and Mojave (the new Mac OS), Google needed a new way to accommodate Safari conversion tracking. Unfortunately for Google and for marketers, the goal posts continue to move on Safari conversion tracking. We won’t go into detail here but you can learn the latest about ITP 2.2 here.
Google originally created the Global Site Tag (gtag.js) to help transition advertisers into the new era of digital privacy, so you will find that you can only use the new Global Site Tag in the new Google Ads UI. The legacy tag (R.I.P., AdWords) will still be valid for some time, but all users will need to move to this in the future.
Google Ads tracking is broken down into two parts, the Global Site Tag and the Event Snippet. If you’re a tracking nerd like myself, this sounds exactly like what Microsoft (R.I.P., Bing) has been using for some time. The Global Site Tag goes on all pages of your website and the event snippet goes on the page that you want to track conversions on. For most advertisers, this will be the “Thank You” page once the user has completed the desired action. Find more information about the Global Site Tag here.
For ecommerce advertisers, the event snippet will track the sale but will also track the revenue and order ID if configured appropriately. These should be dynamically pulled in by your shopping carts revenue and order ID variables. Note that these variables are specific to each shopping cart.
Now that we understand the pieces, we can troubleshoot when revenue is not tracking. In this scenario, we see that Google Ads conversion tracking has stopped reporting. Follow these steps and you will have it solved in no time.
1. Before any other troubleshooting, ensure that the tag/pixel is still placed on the website and can fire. If you can say “yes” to these questions, you’re off to a strong start. For quick instructions on how to add to your site, log into GTM and click on your container id!
a. Does the gtag.js or the Google Tag Manager (GTM) container live on all pages? Yes?
b. Then is the event snippet present or does the trigger in GTM fire on the correct page?
c. If using GTM, is the container published? Don’t forget that if you make changes in Google Tag Manager, those changes need to be published to the website.
Below we can see an example in which the container hasn’t been published in five months.
2. In Google Ads, verify the conversion ID and label match what is being used on the website and in Google Tag Manager. There needs to be an exact match and more often than you would think, there is a small difference that prohibits tracking conversions. Here is an example Metric Theory saw recently.
In the above, what was used is in red and the correct conversion label is in green. We saw a slight change of the correct capital “I” was interpreted as a lowercase “L”.
3. If the conversion ID and label match, the container/event snippet is placed on the right page and the GTM container is published, it’s really time to sleuth.
When revenue is not coming in, there are multiple reasons it could happen; we will cover the most common. Typically, when using Google Tag Manager, if the GTM data layer is not properly set up, this is the cause. Ensure that the variables in your datalayer are what’s being used in the GTM UI and ensure you’re using the correct revenue variable for your shopping cart.
Typical Data Layer:
Hardcoding the tag also includes a version of the data layer as shown below (for those not using GTM).
Pixel or tag tracking can seem very complicated, but when you break it apart by its components, it’s just a series of steps. While we covered the most common reasons behind tracking falling off, there isn’t always an easy fix. Subscribe to our blog for more in depth tips for troubleshooting tracking, and don’t hesitate to contact our team!