Category Archives: Implementation

Participation and Linear Allocation in Adobe Analytics- behavior I expected, and some I did not

Despite clearly remembering learning about it my first week on the job at Omniture in 2006, I realized recently that I did not have a lot of confidence in what participation and linear allocation would do in certain situations in Adobe Analytics. So I put a good amount of effort into testing it to confirm my theories, and I figured I’d pass along what I discovered.

First, the Basics: eVar Allocation

You may already know this part, so feel free to skip this section if you do. Allocation is a setting for Conversion Variables (eVars) in Adobe Analytics, with three options:

Let’s take a simple example to show what how this effects things. Let’s say a user visits my site with this flow:

Page A Page B Page C Page D Form Submit- Signup
s.eVar5=”Page A” s.eVar5=”Page B” s.eVar5=”Page C” s.eVar5=”Page D” s.events=”event1″

Most Recent (Last)

Most eVars have the “defaultiest” allocation of “Most Recent (Last)”, meaning in an event1 report broken down by eVar5, “Page D” would get full credit for the event1 that happened, since it was the last value we saw before event1. So far, pretty simple.

Original Value (First)

But maybe I want to know which LANDING page contributed the most to my event1s (there are other ways of doing this, but for the sake of my example, I’m gonna stick with using allocation). In that case, I might have the allocation for that eVar set to “Original Value (First)” so then “Page A” would get full credit for this event1, since it was the first value we saw for that variable. If my eVar is set to expire on visit, then it’s still nice and straightforward. If it’s set to never expire, then the first value we ever saw for that user will always get credit for any of that user’s metrics. If it’s set to expire in two weeks, then we’ll see the first value that was passed within the last two weeks.

This setting is frequently used for Marketing Campaigns (it’s not uncommon to see s.campaign be used for “Most Recent Campaign in the last 30 days” and then another eVar capture the exact same values, but be set to “Original Campaign in the last 30 days”).

Linear Allocation

If I’m feeling a bit more egalitarian, and want to know ALL the values for an eVar that contributed to success events, I would choose linear allocation. In this scenario, all four values would split the credit for the one event, so they’d each get one fourth of the metric:

(Though it may not actually look like this in the report- by default it would round down to 0. But I’ll talk about decimals later on).

So, that’s allocation.

Then what is participation?

Participation is a setting you can apply to a prop, so that if you bring a Participation-enabled metric into the prop’s report, you can see which values were set at some point before that event took place. Repeat: to see participation you must have a prop that is set to “Display Participation Metrics”:

And the metric you want to see needs to have participation enabled (without this, in the older Reports and Analytics interface, that event won’t be able to be brought into the prop report):

Unlike linear allocation for an eVar, participation for a prop means all the values for that prop get full credit for an event that happened. So, given this flow:

Page A Page B Page C Page D Form Submit- Signup
s.prop1=”Page A” s.prop1=”Page B” s.prop1=”Page C” s.prop1=”Page D” s.events=”event1″

You would see a report like this, because each value participated in the single instance of that event:

New Learnings (for me): Content Velocity

One thing these settings can be used for is measuring content velocity: that is, how much a certain value contributed to more content views later on. For instance, if I have a content site, and I want to know how much one piece of content tends to lead to the reading of MORE content, I might use a participation-metric-enabled prop with a participation-enabled Page View custom event, or I might use an eVar with linear allocation against a Page View custom event (whether or not the event has participation enabled doesn’t matter for the eVar). For my test, I did both:

Page A Page B Page C Page D
s.prop1=”Page 1″
s.eVar1=”Page 1″
s.events=”event1″
s.prop1=”Page 2″
s.eVar1=”Page 2″
s.events=”event1″
s.prop1=”Page 3″
s.eVar1=”Page 3″
s.events=”event1″
s.prop1=”Page 4″
s.eVar1=”Page 4″
s.events=”event1″

The prop

The prop version of this report would show me that Page 1 contributed to 4 views (its own, and 3 more “downstream”). Whereas Page 2 contributed to 3 (its own, and two more downstream), etc…

The eVar

Alternatively, the eVar would show me some thing pretty odd:

Those weird numbers don’t make sense on this small scale (how could 0 get 6.3%?), because it is rounding, and not showing me decimals. If I want to see the decimals, I can create a really simple calculated metric that brings in my custom Page View event (event1) and tells it to show decimals:

The report then makes a little more sense and show us where the rounded numbers came from (and how Page 4, with “0” Page Views, got 6.3% of the credit), but may still seem mysterious:

Those are some odd numbers, right? Here’s the math:

 Value Credit Why?   Explanation
Page 1 2.08 1+0.5+0.33+0.25 It got full credit for its own view, then half the credit (shared with page 2) for the event on Page 2, then a third of the credit (shared with Page 2 and Page 3) on Page 3…
Page 2 1.08 0.5+0.33+0.25 It only got half credit for the event that took place on its page (shared with Page 1), then a third of the credit (shared with Page 1 and Page 3) on Page 3, etc…
Page 3 0.58 .33+.25 It only gets a third of the credit that took place on its page, and a quarter of the credit for the fourth page.
Page 4 0.25 0.25 The event that happened on this page is shared with all four pages.

Crazy, right? I’m not going to tell you which an analyst should prefer, but as always, you should ask the question: “What will you DO with this information?”

What happens when multiple values appear in the same flow?

Let’s say the user does something like this, where they hit one value a couple page views in a row (Page B in this example), or they hit a value 2 separate times (Page A in this example):

Page A Page B Page B
(again)
Page C Page D Page A
(again)
Conversion event
prop1
eVar1
events
“Page A”
“Page A”
“event1”
“Page B”
“Page B”
“event1”
“Page B”
“Page B”
“event1”
“Page C”
“Page C”
“event1”
“Page D”
“Page D”
“event1”
“Page A”
“Page A”
“event1”
events=”event2″

For the prop, it’s pretty straightforward. This will look like 6 event1s, where Page A gets value for all 6, and Page D gets credit for just 2 (itself, and the Page A that came afterwards):

For the eVar, it gets a little more complicated (I added in a calculated metric so you can see the decimals). Page A (accessed twice at separate times) got double credit for the conversion (which I might have predicted), but Page B (accessed twice in a row) ALSO gets double credit for the conversion (which I didn’t predict, probably because I’m too used to thinking in terms of the CVP plugin):

Caveats

A couple things to be aware of:

  • Settings for participation and allocation don’t apply retroactively- you can’t apply them to existing data. If you want to start using it, you need to change your settings and you’ll see it applied to future data. However, this can mess with existing data, so be careful.
  • There appears to be a bug in Analysis Workspace for both. I’m going to follow up with Adobe, but I basically can’t get either Prop participation or Linear Allocation to work in Workspace. I’ll come back and update this post if I get more info from Adobe about this.

Conclusion

Both participation and linear allocation aren’t used often, but they can uniquely solve some reporting requirements and can provide a lot of insight, if you know how to read the data. I hope my experimentation and results here help make it clearer how you might be able to use and interpret data from these settings. Let me know if you have other use cases for using these settings, and how it has worked out for you!

Quick poll: What should I tackle next?

Each new year, I tend to dive into some new side project (this is how the Beacon Parser and the PocketSDR came about). I have quite a few things I want to tackle right now, and one main thing I’m slowly plugging away at, but in the meantime, I’m wondering what to prioritize. So, a poll:

Any other ideas (or desired improvements to existing tools)? Let me know in the comments.

New tool: PocketSDR Mobile App for Adobe Analytics

I mentioned in my previous post that one of the reason I’m going “independent” is to have more time to work on products and pet projects. One of those ongoing projects of mine has been a mobile app you can use to keep your Adobe Analytics SDR/Variable Map easily accessible on your phone.
   
Get it on Google Play
The first release of this actually went out in August 2016, but I didn’t let anyone know because I felt it was still too “beta” and I wanted to clean it up before making it more publicly known. A year and a half later (and various framework upgrades that required redoing the whole thing… each time learning and applying those learnings), I got it to a point where I don’t feel ashamed to share it, though of course there is always room for more improvement.

To use the app, you will need your Adobe Analytics Web Services API key. And since no one wants to enter their 32-digit API Key into their mobile device, this newest version of the app allows you to enter your API key on the web (meaning you can copy-and-paste on your desktop machine) then get a link that will allow your mobile device to open the app with those credentials already entered. I highly recommend using that API Shortcut tool before diving into the app.

I created the app for a few reasons:

  • As with the beacon parser, the main reason was because I wished a tool like this existed and figured if I was going to make it for myself, I may as well let other people use it too.
  • I have a web development background, and wanted to learn more about developing for Mobile Apps. I’ll admit on this front, I cheated a bit: rather than learning multiple native app languages (like Swift or C++), I used the Ionic Framework, which let me program the app using Angular (which fits with my JS/HTML background better than native languages), then use Cordova to turn it into a Mobile App. Still, I did get to learn a lot about mobile development in general, analytics options within mobile, and the release cycle for mobile development (I can’t just save a file and FTP it to my server), not to mention Angular 1/2 and typescript.
  • I needed a situation in which I could test out analytics tracking in various Single-Page App scenarios (yay Angular).
  • Because at heart, I am a developer. While I enjoy helping clients sort out governance and documentation issues, sometimes I just want to retreat to my basement and do some coding, for that straight-forward validation of seeing your code work in real-time. It’s good to keep those skills alive.

All in all, I learned so much. And I’ve already used the app quite a bit to keep track of my client’s Variable Maps (“what did we use event40 for? Oh yeah!”) However, I’m not a professional mobile developer, and this project was done entirely in my evenings/PTO as a learning exercise that happened to create a useable product. So please be forgiving of any thing in the app that is less-than-ideal; there is a reason I’m not charging for the app at all. I will continue working on improvements, particularly with an eye for performance (I’m looking at you, Android….) and I’m already aware of potential aesthetic issues on iPhone X. Please let me know of any other feedback or suggestions- I’d love to hear what you think!

P.S. Before anyone asks why I didn’t use the Adobe API OAuth2 Authentication, I thought about it, and may yet move to using that, but have concerns about how that works for marketing cloud AND non-marketing cloud logins. That, and the API documentation is… lacking… so I decided for now to stick with what I know. If anyone has experience with OAuth2 authentication and wants to discuss, please reach out. 

P.P.S. A special thanks to my beta testers!

Cross-post: Intro to Building a Strong Analytics Practice

I’m blogging again! I’m doing a series over on the Cognetik blog on how to build a Successful Analytics Practice.  Here is a cross-post of the intro:

Who’s driving this thing?

Our industry is full of intelligent, motivated people. Yet it feels like so often, for the amount of effort and thought we put into our Analytics solutions, we never quite get the full value that we know is there. As an analytics/data engineer, most of the work that comes across my desk is very tactical- deep-dive audits, technical specifications, configuring variables, setting up dashboards… these are all very valid and worthy activities, yet I still often hear frustration from my clients such as:

  • We have a hard time getting others within our company to see the value and potential in our analytics.
  • I want to use new tool features but upgrading will take too much effort.
  • Many teams in my organization interact with data, but they all work in silos.
  • It takes too long to get access to requested data.
  • My organization’s report usage is scattered and doesn’t align with global KPIs.
  • I need to apply my existing solution to a new site but I can’t find documentation on my current solution.
  • We’re not collecting the data I actually need for analysis.
  • We have so many new initiatives and works-in-progress, I don’t know which data I can trust.
  • Training users and developers on our implementation or toolset uses too many resources.
  • We collect a lot of data but I rarely get to see a report.

So what’s missing? For all the effort we put into designing solutions, implementing code, and configuring dashboards, what is stopping us from providing more value with our data?

I think often the problem is a lack of central leadership providing a foundation to work on. Now, I don’t mean to say our industry is lacking in leaders… far from it. But the problem is those leaders often aren’t given the resources or the permission to transform their org. So we end up with “lots of people in the car, but no one in the driver’s seat”. Because of how fast our industry has grown, Analytics practices have popped up in every organization, often organically and without much long-term planning. This leads to all those intelligent and motivated people working in silos, without a united focus or the resources to apply a global vision.

What’s the answer?

Each of these problems could be solved with the right Governance Model in place. That means consciously establishing roles, ownership, accountability, processes, and communication. Analytics should be a pro-active part of your organization, not an after thought. I’ll be posting a three-party series on how to get the ball rolling on establishing a healthy Analytics Practice:

Deploying Google Marketing Tags Asyncronously through DTM

I had posted previously about how to deploy marketing tags asynchronously through DTM, but Google Remarketing tags add an extra consideration: Google actually has a separate script to use if you want to deploy asynchronously. The idea is, you could reference the overall async script at the top of your page, then at any point later on, you would fire google_trackConversion to send your pixel. However, this is done slightly differently when you need your reference to that async script file to happen in the same code block as your pixel… you have to make sure the script has had a chance to load before you fire that trackConversion method, or you’ll get an error that “google_trackConversion is undefined”.

Below is an example of how I’ve done that in DTM.

//first, get the async google script, and make sure it has loaded
var dtmGOOGLE = document.createElement('SCRIPT');
var done = false;

dtmGOOGLE.setAttribute('src', '//www.googleadservices.com/pagead/conversion_async.js');
dtmGOOGLE.setAttribute('type','text/javascript');

document.body.appendChild(dtmGOOGLE);
dtmGOOGLE.onload = dtmGOOGLE.onreadystatechange = function () {
 if(!done && (!this.readyState || this.readyState === "loaded" || this.readyState === "complete")) {
 done = true;
 callback();

 // Handle memory leak in IE
 dtmGOOGLE.onload = dtmGOOGLE.onreadystatechange = null;
 document.body.removeChild(dtmGOOGLE);
 }
};

//then, create that pixel
function callback(){
 if(done){ 
 /* <![CDATA[ */
 window.google_trackConversion({
 google_conversion_id : 12345789,
 google_custom_params : window.google_tag_params,
 google_remarketing_only : true
 });
 //]]> 
 }
}

Why (and why not) use a Data Layer?

What’s a Data Layer?

Tag Management Systems can get data a variety of ways. For instance in DTM you can use query string parameters, meta tags, or cookie values- but in general, data for most variables comes from one of two sources:

  • To really take advantage of a tag management system like DTM, I may choose to scrape the DOM. I’m gonna call this the MacGyver approach. This uses the existing HTML and styles on a site to For instance, DTM could use CSS selectors to pull the values out of a <div> with the class of “breadcrumb”, and end up with a value like “electronics>televisions>wide-screen”. This relies on my site having a reliable CSS structure, and there being elements on the page that include the values we need for reporting.
  • If I want even more flexibility, control and predictability, I may work with developers to create a data layer. They would create a JavaScript object, such as “universal_variable.pageName”, and give it a value based on our reporting needs, like “electronics | televisions | wide-screen > product list”. This gives greater control and flexibility for reporting, but requires developers to create JavaScript objects on the pages.

Conceptually speaking, a data layer is page-specific (but tool-agnostic) metadata that describes the page and the actions a user may take on it. Practically speaking, a data layer typically consists of a JavaScript object that contains all of the values we’d want to report on for a given page or user.

Data layers are important because they save developers time by allowing them to abstract out the metadata into a tool-agnostic syntax that a TMS like DTM can then ingest and set as data elements. Whereas once I would have told IT “please set s.prop5 and s.eVar5 to the search term on a search results page, and set s.events to event20” now I can just say “please put the search term in a javascript object such as digitalData.page.onsiteSearchTerm and tell me what object it is.” Then the TMS administrators could easily map that to the right variables from there.

You can see an example data layer if you’d like, or you can pull open a developer console for this very blog and look at the object “digitalDataDDT” to see the data layer that is automatically created from Search Discovery’s wordpress plugin.

Why a Data Layer?

My friends at 33 Sticks also have a great blog post on the subject, but I’ll list out some of the reasons I prefer clients to use a Data Layer. To me, it’s an upfront investment for a scalable, easily maintained implementation going forward. It does mean more work upfront- you have to first design the data layer to make sure it covers your reporting requirements, then you’ll need developers to add that to your site. But beyond those upfront tasks, configuration in your TMS will be much simpler, and it will save you many hours of CSS guess work and DOM scraping, and it may prevent broken reporting down the line.

    Upfront LOE Maintenance LOE
Route Amount of Control Dev Analytics Dev Analytics
Old fashioned “page on code” Medium Heavy Heavy Heavy Heavy
DTM + “Macgyver” Low Minimal Heavy Minimal Heavy
DTM + Data Layer High Heavy Medium Minimal Minimal

Another potential benefit to a Data Layer is that more and more supplementary tools know how to use them now. For instance, Observepoint’s site scanning tool can now return data on not just your Analytics and Marketing beacons, but on your Data Layer as well. And one of my favorite debugging tools, Dataslayer, can return both your beacons and your data layer to your console, so if something is breaking down, you can tell if it’s a data layer issue or a TMS issue.

Ask Yourself

Below are some questions to ask yourself when considering using a data layer:

How often does the code on the site change? If the DOM/HTML of the site changes frequently, you don’t want to rely on CSS selectors. I’ve had many clients have reports randomly break, and after much debugging we realized the problem was the developers changed the code without knowing it would affect analytics. It’s easier to tell developers to put a data layer object on a page then leave it alone, than it is to tell them to not change their HTML/CSS.

How CSS-savvy is your TMS team? If you have someone on your team who is comfortable navigating a DOM using CSS, then you may be able to get away without a data layer a little more easily… but plan on that CSS-savvy resource spending a lot of time in your TMS.  I’ll admit, I enjoy DOM-scraping, and have spent a LOT of time doing it. But I recognize that while it seems like a simple short-term fix, it rarely simplifies things in the long run.

How many pages/page types are on the site? A very complicated site is hard to manage through CSS- you have to familiarize yourself with the DOM of every page type.

How are CSS styles laid out? Are they clean, systematic, and fairly permanent? Clearly, the cleaner the DOM, the easier it is to scrape it.

How often are new pages or new site functionality released? Sites that role out new microsites or site functionality frequently would need a CSS-savvy person setting up their DTM for every change. Alternatively, relying on a data layer requires a data-layer-savvy developer on any new pages/site/functionality. It is often easier to write a solid Data Layer tech spec for developers to reference for projects going forward than to figure out CSS selectors for every new site/page/functionality.

How much link-tracking/post-page-load tracking do you have on your site? If you do need to track a lot of user actions beyond just page loads, involving IT to make sure you are tracking the right things (instead of trying to scrape things out of the HTML) can be extremely valuable. See my post on ways to get around relying on CSS for event-based rules for more info on options.

What is the turn-around time for the developers? Many clients move to DTM specifically because they can’t work easily within their dev team to set up analytics. A development-driven data layer may take many months to set up, stage, QA, and publish. Then if changes are needed, the process starts again. It may be worth going through the lengthy process initially, but if changes are frequently needed in this implementation, you may find yourself relying more on the DOM.

Are there other analytics/marketing tag vendors that may use a data layer? You may be able to hit two birds with one stone by creating a data layer that multiple tools can use.

Have you previously used another tag management system? Often, a data layer set up for a different tool can be used by DTM. Similarly, if the client ever moves away from DTM, their data layer can travel with them.

Does the site have jQuery? The jQuery library has many methods that help with CSS selectors (such as .parent, .child, .closest, .is, .closest…). A CSS-selector-based implementation may be more difficult without jQuery or a similar javascript library.

Who should create my Data Layer?

Ideally, your data layer should be created by your IT/developers… or at bare minimum, developers should be heavily involved. They may be able to hook into existing data in your CMS (for instance, if you use Adobe Experience Manager you can use the Context Hub as the basis for your data layer), or they may already have ideas for how they want to deploy. Your data layer should not be specific to just your Analytics solution; it should be seen as the basis of all things having to do with “data” on your site.

Yet frequently, for lack of IT investment, the analytics team will end up defining the data layer and dictating it to IT. These days, that’s what most Tech Specs consist of: instructions to developers on how to build a data layer. Usually, external documentation on data layers (like from consulting agencies) will be based on the W3C standard.

The W3C (with a task force including folks from Adobe, Ensighten, Microsoft, IBM…) has introduced a tool-agnostic data layer standard that can be used by many tools and vendors. The specifications for this can be found on the W3C site, and many resources exist already with examples. Adobe Consulting often proposes using the W3C as a starting point, if you don’t have any other plans. However, in my experience, generally that W3C is just a starting point. Some people don’t like the way the W3C is designed and most everyone needs to add on to it. For example, folks might ask:

  • why is “onsiteSearchTerms” part of digitalData.page? Can I put it instead in something I made up, like digitalData.search?
  • I want to track “planType”- the W3C didn’t plan for that, so can I just put it somewhere logical like digitalData.transaction?
  • I don’t need “digitalData.product” to be in an array- can I just make that a simple object.

The answer is: yes. You can tweak that standard to your heart’s delight. Just please, PLEASE, document it, and be aware that some tools will be built with the official standard in mind.

The Phased Approach

Many folks adopt a TMS specifically because they don’t want to have to go through IT release cycles to make changes to their implementation. You can still use a TMS to get a lot of what you need for reporting without a data layer and without a ton of CSS work. It may be worthwhile to put a “bare minimum” TMS deployment on your site to start getting the out of the box reports and any reports that don’t require a data layer (like something based on a plugin such as getTimeParting), then to fill in the data layer as you are able. I’d be wary though, because sometimes once that “bare minimum” reporting is in place, it can be easy to be complacent and lose some of the urgency behind getting a thorough solution implemented correctly from the start.

Conclusion

I fully understand that a properly designed data layer is a lot of work, but in my experience, there is going to be a lot of effort with or without a data layer- you can choose for that effort to be upfront in the planning and initial implementation, or you can plan on more longterm maintenance.

Should I have one DTM property, or many?

It’s common for a company in DTM to have multiple sites/groups/regions they want to deploy DTM on. One of the more important decisions you can make, early on, is whether to keep those different sites as separate properties, or keep them in a single DTM property. I know future iterations of the DTM tool will make up for some of the current issues we run up against when using multiple properties, but for now my advice is to keep as few properties as possible- it’s so much easier to maintain.

Note: Your properties in DTM are NOT related to your Adobe Analytics login companies or Report Suites- one property can go to many report suites (with custom logic in the s_code) or many properties can feed into the same report suite. So instead, you should consider the following:

How similar are the implementations?

Will the sites all have the same source for data, like a data layer, or CSS selectors? Do they use the same general analytics variable map (eg, “eVar15 is always search terms”)? Will they generally use the same third party tags? Do they all use Adobe Target or other DTM tools?

If your sites are similar and you want to keep separate properties, you can in theory set up one property and get it configured just right, then copy your rules and data elements over to all the other properties. But be warned: after rules are copied, if you need to update that rule, you must update all its copies too. To be honest, this can be beastly to maintain. I’ve seen it work, but only if folks use documentation to note what changes have happened where.
Imagine you want to add a new variable to your Search Results page, and you have 6 properties that have similar Search Results rules- you’d need to make that change in all 6 properties, and approve and publish in 6 places.
If, however, of your 6 sites, only 3 have a search results page, and all of them are pulling the search term out of a different query string parameter- then you’re going to be maintaining 6 separate rules anyways, and there is no benefit to keeping one property.

Another big consideration are the tools for each site. Tools in DTM are generally intended to be deployed on ALL pages using that DTM property- meaning you can’t turn on Target or the Marketing Cloud service for just one portion of a property. For Adobe Analytics, you can suppress the tool on certain pages, but in general, plan on Tools in DTM running on every page, without being able to suppress them for certain pages.

How similar are the publication timelines?

Will one site go live with the Analytics tool sooner than another? Does another site have a lengthy QA process?  Would it be ok to publish changes in DTM that will push out to all sites at once?

If Site B will have their old Analytics implementation removed from their site and ready for DTM to take over in June, and Site B won’t be ready until August, then you’d need to plan things very carefully in DTM. If the plan to transition to DTM really varies between your sites, then you may want to keep separate properties, at least for now. Perhaps in the future you could merge them back together.

Who will be doing the DTM work for each site?

Will the person implementing/administering DTM for one site be the same as for another site? Are you concerned about someone adding third party tags for site B having access to rules that could apply to site A? 

Within a company, you can use groups to restrict Users to certain properties. So you could say “Joe should only have access to Site B” if Site B is its own property.

Within a property, you can use groups to restrict Users to certain tools (for instance, you can give someone access to Third Party Tags but not to Adobe Analytics). You cannot, however, restrict certain rules- you can’t say “Joe can edit the homepage rule, but not purchase confirmation”.

On a side note, you can not restrict Admin access- if someone needs to make changes to tools, manage users, or view embed codes, that someone will have admin access for your whole company. So you can’t say “Joe should have access to the embed options for Site A but not Site B”.

Conclusion

If your sites are at all similar in their implementation, I think it’s worth it to try to make a single property work, but I definitely understand there are situations in which you must keep separate properties. Hopefully this post will help you decide on the best possible arrangement for your company.

What the DTM “top down” approach means for your page performance

Any javascript framework, including all Tag Management Systems like DTM, have the potential to ADD more javascript weight to your page. But if you approach things the right way, this javascript weight  and its effect on your page performance can by mitigated by using DTM to optimize how your tools and tags are delivered. In a partner post, I’ll be talking about how to get the most out of DTM as far as Third Party Tags go, but I think one key concept is worth discussing explicitly.
You may have heard DTM be referred to as a “Top Down” TMS. For instance, this appears in some of the marketing slide decks:
topdown

While yes, it’s worth discussing this as a holistic approach to your digital analytics, it actually has a very real effect on how you set your rules up and how that affects page performance. That’s what I hope to discuss in this post.

In a different TMS, or even in DTM if I haven’t changed my mindset yet, I may be tempted to do something like this:

down-upRules

Where I have differing rules for different scopes as well as for different tags (we’re pretending here that “Wuggly” is a Third Party Marketing Pixel vendor).

DTM does what it can to defer code or make it non-blocking, but there are parts of the DTM library which will run as syncronous code on all pages. Some of that is because of the way the code needs to work- the Marketing Cloud ID service must run before the other Adobe tools; older Target mbox code versions need to run syncronously at top of page. But there is also the code in the library that serves as a map for when and how all of the deferred code should run. For instance, my library may include the following:

downUpCode

All of this logic exists to say “if the current pageType is “home page”, run this code non-sequentially”.  The name, conditions and event code for each rule run on each page as part of the overall library- these serve as a map for DTM to know which code must run, and which code it can ignore and not run.
You’ll notice the code for the two rules is completely identical, except for the rule name (in blue) and the source of the external script (in yellow). Most importantly, the conditions (in green) are identical. Whereas if they shared a rule, we might see the exact same thing as above accomplished with half as much code:

topDownCode

I now have ONE rule, which would be used for ALL logic that should run on the Home Page. The part of the library that runs on every page to check against conditions only has to check if the “pageType” is “home page” once, rather than twice. And DTM still loads the two scripts as separate non-sequential javascript. This doesn’t look like a major change, but when viewed across a whole implementation, where there may be dozens of rules, it can make a big difference in how many rules and conditions DTM must check on every page.

In the DTM interface, this would look like this:
topDownRules

If I want to know which rules contain my “Wuggly” codes, I can use the  “Tag Name” filter in the rules list, which will show me all rules that have a third party tag that includes “Wuggly”:
topDownFilter

This is filtering based on the Tag Name specified when you add the tag code:
topDownTagName

Using this approach, where your rules are based on their scope (or condition) and contain all logic- Analytics, Target, third party- that applies to that scope can not only lighten your library weight, but it can also keep your DTM implementation organized and scalable, but it may also require a change of mindset for how DTM is organized- if someone else needed to deploy a tag on Product Detail Pages, they wouldn’t need to create a rule, but rather, they could see a “Product Detail Page” rule already exists with the scope they need, and they need only add the third party tag.

There is one potential downside to consider, though- the approval and publication flow is based on Rules in their entirety. You can’t say “publish my changes to the analytics portion of this tool, but not to the third party tag section”. Still, if you are aware of this as you plan the publication of new features, this potential drawback rarely overrides the advantages.