Tag Archives: migration

DTM-to-Launch Migration Series #3: The Migration Process

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(This is cross-posted from the 33 Sticks Blog)

Thus far in this series, we’ve discussed your options for a DTM-to-Launch Migration, and some potential areas you can improve upon your solution as part of a migration. As you can see from my previous posts, there are a lot of possible considerations for a DTM-to-Launch migration. So what might the actual process look like to get your company on Launch instead of DTM?

Figure Out How You’ll Roll Out

Does it make sense for your org to roll Launch out all at once to all of your properties? Or would you prefer to bite off one chunk at a time? (For instance, one client is currently updating their internal search single page app, so they’re going to roll out Launch there first, as a sort of guinea pig.) Keep in mind that even if you are only rolling out Launch to 3 pages first, ANY roll out is going to have to tackle some global logic- it may be that those first three pages are the hardest because you’ll need to tackle how to handle not just the requirements for those three pages, but also global items like authentication status or global marketing tags.
If you do want to roll out all at once, you can keep using the same DTM embed code you always have so your developers don’t need to make changes to the pages, but that’s an all-or-nothing option (once you switch to Launch, Launch will “own” that embed code unless you choose to re-publish from DTM), and it only works in prod (dev/staging environments will still need the new embed codes).

Also, if you’re considering having DTM and Launch run alongside each other on the same page…. don’t even consider this an option. It won’t work. Both tools use the _satellite object and one WILL overwrite the other and/or get very confused by the presence of the other.

Validation

Keep in mind the effort to validate things- even if you are doing a “simple lift-and-shift”, you will still need to validate that Launch is doing all the things that DTM had been doing. Depending on how well-documented your current implementation is, and/or what QA efforts are currently in place, this may mean figuring out what it is that DTM is currently doing so you know whether Launch is matching it or not. This is a golden opportunity to set up some QA processes, if you haven’t already.
If you don’t have a solid process already in place, you won’t be able to test every possible beacon for every possible user, but you should can set up a testing procedure in place for critical beacons on your most typical flows. Note, none of this is specific to DTM or Launch, but is a best practice regardless and will help with the DTM-to-Launch migration.

  • Establish key user flows and document each beacon in the flow’s expected variables
  • Use a tool like Observepoint or Hub’scan to automate testing
  • For your KPIs, in Adobe Analytics set up anomaly detection and/or alerts based on reasonable thresholds (alert me if revenue dips below $___ or visits climbs above ___)

This is all much easier if you used the migration as a chance to document your solution.

Audit What You’ve Got and What You Want

Unfortunately, Adobe does not provide a great way to document all of your current rules and data elements in DTM. Fortunately, there is a tool to help: Tagtician has a free chrome extension that can create a spreadsheet with a list of all your data elements, rules (including third party tags and what is deployed in the Adobe Analytics/Google Analytics section of each rule.) I cannot overstate how incredibly helpful this has been for every DTM migration project I’ve been on.
Depending on how ambitious our migration plans are (on a scale of “lift-and-shift” to “burn it down and start fresh”), I’ve used this as a basis for a new solution design, so we know on each user action what variables are expected, where those variables are set, and where they pull their information from:

Then I take that to figure out how to deploy it through Launch (which may or may not look anything like how it was deployed in DTM): for instance, if pageName is always going to get it’s value from the same data element, I can set that in a global rule that fires on all page loads. Whereas my search variables can get their own rule, which will combine with the global rule on the search results page to create one analytics beacon with all the variables I need. Now that you can control load order and when analytics beacons fire in Launch, you may be able to really compartmentalize logic based on scope and get rid of redundancy in your implementation.

Decide On Your Publishing Flow

Launch has a new publishing flow- it’s no longer just staging vs production. You now have development (as many environments as you need), staging, and production; no changes automatically get built into a library unless you set it up to; you can use libraries to group together changes and move a group through the flow. If you only have one person in Launch at a time, and that one person tends to do most approvals and publishes, then the flow can definitely seem like “too much.” But for a lot of bigger organizations, this new flow is a game changer.
Part of moving to Launch is figuring out how this flow should apply to your organization. For example, one client came up with something similar to this:

At the start of each sprint, they create a library with that sprint name, and link it to the main dev environment. Each member of their analytics team has their own permanent library in dev, linked to alternative dev environments (which aren’t referenced by any pages and are only really interacted with through the switcher plugin- basically a sandbox for them to build in, using the switcher plugin to see the effect of their efforts in dev). As changes are completed and pass their first round of validation, they get moved into the Sprint’s library, which at the end of the sprint moves into Staging, where it is validated by the developer/UX QA team before being approved and published. (This is just an example- there is no single “right way” to use this flow, it was designed to be flexible for a reason.)
Be aware, once a library has “claimed” an environment (which is linked to an embed code), no other library can claim that environment, so if you want multiple libraries you will need multiple dev environments.
Also, you can no longer use code in a developer console to switch between environments- currently, the only way I know to switch between environments is to use the Search Discovery switcher chrome extension or to use something like Charles Proxy Map Remote.

The Migration Project Plan

A DTM-to-Launch migration can become quite the involved project. For the simplest of migrations, it still may be 4-6 weeks to migrate within the tools, do any necessary validation, and publish your changes. It may only need to be one or two main analytics/TMS folks and/or a QA person working on it.
Or, it may be a 9 month project that involves devs, QA/UAT, data architects, analysts… don’t underestimate the resource cost of the migration (though at the same time, don’t undervalue the long-term resource savings if you take the time to get it right as part of the migration and (re)build a scalable, maintainable, well-documented solution.)
For instance, below is an example of how a Launch migration could go. This example does not include any changes to the data layer, but does include a substantial attempt to re-deploy analytics rather than merely shift the existing implementation with all the same rules and data elements.

Next Steps and Resources

As you can see, even a simple lift-and-switch to Launch can be a bit involved, and folks can feel daunted by all the considerations, options, and things to be aware of. I’ve tried to be as thorough and comprehensive as possible in this series, and I hope I hit the right level of detail to give practical guidance on how to tackle a DTM-to-Launch migration. There is a great community out there for folks who need DTM/Launch support- check out the following resources:

Hopefully this series helped, but feel free to reach out if you have questions or if you’d like to engage with us to make sure you get off on the right foot as you move to Launch.

DTM-to-Launch Migration Series #2: A Golden Opportunity

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(Cross-posted from the 33 Sticks blog)

Aside from all of the things that Launch handles better than DTM did (which I discussed a bit in my previous post in the series), a move to Launch provides an opportunity to clean up and optimize your implementation (to the point that even if you weren’t moving to Launch, you could still do this clean up within DTM). You can save yourself from headaches and regret down the line if you take the time now to define some standards, adopt some best practices, or apply some “lessons learned” from your DTM implementation.

Redo Your Property Structure

Many companies set up their DTM properties based on a certain understanding of how properties should be used, and realized a bit too late that a different set up might work better.
previous post of mine on this topic is still applicable in Launch: your properties should not be based on Report Suites or domains, but rather, on the three following questions:

  • How similar are the implementations between your sites (do they use the same data layer, for instance? Would the rules be triggered by the same conditions?)
  • How similar are the publication timelines (if you publish a change for Site A, would it also apply to Site B at that time?)
  • Will the DTM/Launch implementation be maintained/updated by the same folks? (Properties are a good way to control user access.)

Keep in mind Launch has an API for configuration, so if you have 15 properties and want to make a change to all of them at once, you now can (though that API is not yet super documented/supported, so it’s a bit of a wild west so far). In general, I’ve seen folks using Launch as an opportunity to move to fewer properties.

Define Standards and Best Practices

Now is a great time to take lessons learned from DTM and define the standards your company will follow within Launch. Some things are arbitrary- it doesn’t really matter if I name the rule “Product Details Page View” or “page: product details”, but if we are consistent from the start, it can save us a lot of head ache and cleanup down the road.

Tags With the Same Condition(s)/Scope Should Share the Same Rule

To keep your library light, and your implementation scalable and maintainable, I highly recommend basing your rules on their scope/condition, rather than the tags they contain. For instance, a single rule named “Checkout: Order Confirmation” is better than 10 different rules that fire on Order Confirmation- “Doubleclick Order Confirmation” and “Google Conversion Tags”, etc.
I’ve written previously about why this matters– it can have a surprising affect on page performance (not to mention it cane make your TMS impossible to navigate/maintain), and that still applies in Launch.

Delete redundant and unused stuff

Run an audit of your DTM property. Do you have redundant or unused Data Elements? Empty (or permanently commented-out) rules or Third Party Tags? Inactive rules or data elements that aren’t likely to ever be used again? Often folks are afraid to delete things within DTM, but this is a great chance to delete anything that isn’t still useful.

Institute a Naming Schema

This is your chance to have a nice, clean naming standard in your TMS. Consider all the following things you can name in Launch:

  • Data Elements: I try to keep to the same [category]:[details], though since Launch doesn’t show the DE type from the DE list like DTM does, I also like to include the type: “search: term: QP” (QP for Query Parameter) or “checkout: order total:DL” (DL for Data Layer). I also prefer keeping everything for Data Elements lowercase so I don’t have to worry/remember how I capitalized things.
  • Rules: In DTM I liked to do something like “[category]:[scope/condition]” (eg “Search: Results”, “Catalog: Product Details”, “Checkout: Cart View”.) In Launch, because DCRs, EBRs and PLRs now share the same interface, I like to take it a step further and include the rule type at the front: “Page: Search: Results” or “Click: Search: Filter”. If you have a lot of rules potentially firing into the same beacon, then I’d also include info about the order (eg, “Page: Global: All Pages #100” and “Page: Home #25” so you know that the #100 one would fire AFTER the #25 one on the home page.) I’ve also found it helpful to call out the rules which actually fire my analytics BEACON as opposed to rules that run higher in the order and only set variables (eg: “Page: Global: All Pages (s.t) #100”). Then within Rules, there are more naming considerations than there had been in DTM:
    • Events: Should be descriptive, and it may be worth including the load order (so “Page Top- #100” or “Direct Call: Add to Cart #50” might do the trick.)
    • Conditions/Exceptions: Conditions and Exceptions particularly should have some sort of custom naming (instead of a condition “Core – Value Comparison”, I might name it “pageName DE=’search results’”).
    • Actions: I’ve been leaving some with the default (eg, “Adobe Analytics – Set Variables”, though depending on how complicated my implementation is, I might want to change that to “Analytics- Content Identification variables”). Any Core/Code actions should have a descriptive name (“Yahoo pixel- expires 12/19/19” or similar.)

Fix Up Your Data Layer

This is perhaps a very ambitious task for most migrations, but if you’re already taking the effort to audit your DTM implementation, now might be a good time to also look at your data layer- do you have data layer objects that aren’t being used in DTM at all currently? (Be aware, of course, that data layers don’t always exist solely for a TMS’s sake- make sure no one else is using it either). Before you go creating a bunch of data elements, is there something you wish your data layer had that it currently doesn’t? Or do you wish it were structured differently? Now might be a good chance to optimize it! Especially if you are rolling Launch out to one part of your site at a time, you may be able to work with devs to break up a Data Layer rollout into reasonable chunks. You may be surprised by how many devs are on board with fixing up the data layer, particularly if your current on is messy/confusing.

Move Third Party Tags to Asynchronous JS

This is one of the biggest areas for improvement I’ve seen amongst my current and past clients- they’ve potentially been using DTM for years and haven’t always taken advantage of DTM’s ability to improve page performance by moving third-party tags to asynchronous javascript.All tag managements systems have inherent weight- you are adding a JS library to your site. If you don’t mitigate this weight by using the TMS to optimize your tags, your TMS may be having a net-negative affect on your site- a substantial one, in many cases. I’ve written previously about the approach I would recommend for third-party tags, but to emphasize the importance of this: I have seen the overall page load time improve by 15-30% by simply moving tags within DTM to async. Unless the vendor’s code affects the user experience (chat, survey or optimization tools, for instance), there is no reason for most tags to be anything other than non-sequential JS.

In Launch, you can take it a step further, and use extensions to further optimize your tags. For instance, if you use Facebook or Doubleclick, there are extensions in place that you can use to move those tags entirely out of custom code blocks. Or, if you are deploying a simple pixel tag and the vendor does not have an extension, you can use 33 Sticks’ Pixel Loader extension to easily change it from an html  tag to asynchronous javascript.

Document Everything!

Moving to Launch also provides the ability to get solid, current documentation on your solution. Aside from auditing your solution (I’ll take about that in a moment) so you know which rules are setting what or what is expected in the Data Layer on certain pages, I also recommend using this fresh start as a change to document and enforce your standards and best practices for TMS deployment. For instance, I’ve helped clients create a confluence document that anyone at thier company who might be within Launch can access, detailing:

  • Naming Strategy (see notes above)
  • Third Party Tag deployment standards (which tags are “approved” by your org for use- as in, “do not use one TMS to deploy another TMS like GTM, not unless you hate your site loading quickly”); deploying tags as asynchronous JS- see note above…)
    • I also recommend as part of the auditing/documentation process getting a list of all your third party tags, documenting who at your org “owns” that tag, and setting “expiration/renewal” dates (“Jan Smith owns this floodlight tag, deployed 8-5-18; on 9-5-18 we will contact her to see if the tag is still valid or can be deleted”).
  • Best Practices (don’t check “apply handler directly to element” without good reason, try to limit the number of Data Elements used in “Data Element Change” rule triggers, etc.)
  • Publication Flow (how is your org using libraries and environments? Who approves and who publishes? Will publishing happen with a specific cadence, like every other Wednesday? What is your QA/validation process? Do you want to implement an “all changes must be reviewed by someone other than the person who made the change” rule?)

I know this level of documentation can be daunting and seem like overkill, but your future staff/employees will thank you for it, even if it’s informal and/or a work-in-progress.

Change Your Deployment Method (Adobe-Managed vs Self-Hosted)

DTM had a few deployment options:

  • An Adobe/Akamai-hosted library (ie, your embed code starts with “//assets.adobedtm.com”)
  • An FTP self-hosted library (DTM would push changes through FTP to a location on your own servers)
  • A downloaded self-hosting option (you would manually download after changes and put onto your servers).

Now may be an opportunity to change this- if you’ve been doing the manual download option because of security concerns, now that the publishing flow in Launch is more flexible/powerful, might you be able to simplify by moving to another option?

Technically, all three of these options also exist in Launch, though the approach is slightly different. I’ve documented in a separate post how you can achieve each of the three methods in Launch- especially the download method, which may not be intuitive for users who had used the download option in DTM.

Update Your visitorID/appMeasurement Libraries

A TMS upgrade is also a good chance to update to the most recent stable Adobe libraries (for instance, as of this moment, the most current Analytics library is 2.10). Unless you are doing something very custom/weird in your libraries (or are stuck in the dark ages on H code), updating should be a relatively easy process, and offers benefits like improved page performance.

It may also make sense to examine your doPlugins function (if you are still using it): do you have functionality you can move out of doPlugins (eg, do you still really need getQueryParam when you can just use the DTM/Launch interface?) (Also, word on the street is that some folks at Adobe may be releasing an extension to handle many of the common plugins, so that may provide some extra room for enhancement.)

Update cross-Adobe Tool integrations

If you’re not yet on the VisitorID service, you really should be. Then once you are on that, now would be a good time to update your implementation for integrating analytics with other Adobe tools:

  • If you use Target, are you on at.js (and is it current)? Do you have Analytics 4 Target (A4T) set up?
  • If you use Audience Manager, have you transitioned to a server-side integration? Are you currently deploying your DIL at the bottom of your Analytics code in DTM, and might you be able to transition that to use the AAM extension?

What’s Next

By now, you should have a sense of what type of migration path you’re going to take, and what aspects of your solution you may want to change or improve upon. The next post in the series will walk you through the actual process and provide a rough framework for a project plan.

DTM-to-Launch Migration Series #1: Options and Considerations

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(cross-posted from the 33 Sticks Blog)

Adobe’s Launch is really building momentum (they just announced the plan to sunset DTM– editing abilities end December 31st, 2019 July 1st, 2020; read-only access dies June 2020 December 31st, 2020 (dates updated to reflect Adobe’s change)), and in the past few months, it feels like almost every day, I get asked “what does a launch migration look like?”

And I’m afraid I have a very unhelpful answer: it totally depends.

We’ve had visibility into about a dozen migrations now, and each one has been a completely unique case. But I figured I can at least defend my answer of “it depends” by clarifying what it depends on, what the options are, and what considerations should you make.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Preparing to Migrate
 Adobe DTM to Launch Migration Options
 Things to be aware when moving from DTM to Launch

Using the Migration as an Opportunity
 Redo your property structure
 Define standards within Launch
 Clean up redundant/unused items
 Best practices for Rule scope/conditions
 Institute a Naming Schema
 Fix up your data layer
 Optimize your third party tags
 Document everything
 Change your deployment method
 How to use the download option
 Update your visitorID/appMeasurement libraries
 Update cross-Adobe Tool integrations

The Migration Process
 How to roll out Launch
 Validation
 Audit what you have (and figure out what you want)
 Decide on a publishing flow that works for your org
 Create a Migration Project Plan
 Other Resources and Next Steps

Disclaimer: Info in this series is accurate as of, October 29, 2018. We will try to update it as it makes sense to do so, but things can change quickly in the world of TMSes and iterative product releases.

You’ve Got Options

As far as we see it, if you’re considering a move from Adobe DTM to Launch, you have a few options:

  1. Use the DTM-to-Launch Migration tool (SEE: Adobe’s documentation), essentially just doing a lift-and-shift of your current DTM implementation.
  2. Use the DTM-to-Launch migration tool, but do a fair amount of clean up before/after.
  3. Use a tool like Tagtician to audit what you currently have, decide what you want to carry over, and set it up “fresh” in Launch (have Launch accomplish the same thing as DTM, but perhaps accomplish it in different ways).
  4. Use this as a chance to rebuild your solution from the ground up.

Most folks we’ve talked to or worked with are looking at somewhere in that 2-3 range. In most cases, we’d strongly discourage going with option #1, that straight-up lift-and-shift. I PROMISE there is some room for review and improvement in your DTM implementation.

First, not everything in DTM will work in Launch. Our friends at Search Discovery have a great tool for detecting places within DTM that you may be using code that will no longer work (goodbye, _satellite.getQueryParam). (NOTE: this detects places in your DTM library you are using those “forbidden” functions- if you are using something like _satellite.getQueryParam in your own javascript outside of DTM, it will not detect it.)

Technically, aside from the things that that tool will flag, everything that worked in DTM should work in Launch (actually, there are a few major differences you should be aware of). BUT, many of the workarounds you may have resorted to in DTM are no longer needed, so you can definitely optimize things. There are some broader differences between DTM and Launch that open the door for some changes to your implementation that could be really valuable.

Consider the following questions:

Are you currently using DTM for Single Page Apps? (if so, you’ve almost certainly had to use some workarounds that are no longer needed)

Do you have any repeated global logic (all of your DCRs or EBRs might be setting “eVar5=%auth status%” because you didn’t have a way to get that eVar included on all beacons otherwise)

Do you use Direct Call Rules heavily?

Do you have s.clearVars running in odd places?

Are a large portion of your Analytics variables being set in custom code blocks instead of in the interface?

Do you fire any Direct Call Rules from within your DTM implementation (eg, DCRs calling other DCRs to get around timing/scope issues?)

Are you currently firing Adobe Analytics beacons from outside of the Analytics Tool (eg, are you using a third party tag box to fire s.t or s.tl because of timing issues?)

If you answered yes to any of the above questions (and perhaps even if not), then you absolutely should be considering moving to Launch ASAP, for all the reasons discussed on these other blog posts:

Differences between DTM and Launch to be Aware of

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(cross-posted from the 33 Sticks blog)

There’s a lot of talk about how Adobe Launch is backwards-compatible- that, aside from a few _satellite methods that may not still work (that were probably not supported to begin with), anything you had in DTM should still work in Launch. But, well, not EVERYTHING in DTM is still going to work in Launch, and some things in Launch may catch you off guard. Here are some things you should be aware of:

Far fewer things happen automatically. For instance, Adobe Analytics no longer automatically fires a beacon on page load (which I view as a wonderful thing, but you still need to be aware of it). You need to set it up (and things like loading Target or firing Mboxes) in a rule.

 The following _satellite methods (among others, but these are the most common) are no longer supported (or, in some cases, may never have been supported but now simply won’t work).

  • _satellite.getQueryParam/_satellite.getQueryParamCaseInsensitive
  • _satellite.notify (this still technically works, but you should migrate to _satellite.logger)
  • _satellite.URI
  • _satellite.cleanText
  • _satellite.setCookie (which is now _satellite.cookie.set) and _satellite.readCookie (which is now _satellite.cookie.get)

 There is some interface functionality in DTM that is not yet in Launch:

  • There is no “notes” functionality currently (though I hear that is coming soon)
  • It’s not easy to do a revision comparison (diff compare) currently (though again, I hear that is in the works).

 Launch still has console debugging, but it no longer alerts you to what “SATELLITE DETECTED” (which I used a lot to troubleshooting bubbling issues)- it merely tells you what rules are firing, etc.

 Some tools like Tagtician or Disruptive Advertising’s DTM Debugger are not yet fully Launch-compatible. (Tagtician supports Launch but is working on improving how it handles it; I don’t know if the DTM Debugger has any plans to become Launch-compatible).

 The Adobe Analytics extension does not support multiple Adobe instances, nor can you have multiple Adobe Analytics extensions installed. (Multi-suite tagging is still ok).

 The Google Analytics extension does not support multiple GA instances.

 Some things have been renamed in a way that may throw you off- for instance, you can still easily have a Rule condition be based on a Data Element value- it’s just named “Value Comparison” now.

 While Launch gives you much more control over the order things happen in, be aware that while actions within a rule will START in the specified sequence, they may not COMPLETE in sequence: Action 1 will start, then Action 2 will start whether Action 1 is finished or not. This is particularly significant if the actions are just code (for instance, I had my first action try to pull information from an API, and my second action then use that info to fire a pixel… but the pixel kept firing before the API had done its thing). I hear that users may eventually get more control over this, but for now this is how it is.

 Adapters can be confusing (fortunately Jimalytics clears it up nicely on his blog). These days, Adobe automatically creates a “Managed by Adobe” adapter, and that single adapter should work for multiple environments.

None of these are necessarily a reason to not upgrade- especially since Adobe now has a plan for sunsetting DTM. But hopefully you won’t be caught unaware by any of these items. Has anything else surprised you about Launch? Let us know!

How to self-host a Launch Library using the download option

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(Cross-posted from the 33 Sticks Blog)

As mentioned in my series on migrating from DTM to Launch, DTM had a few deployment options:

  • An Adobe/Akamai-hosted library (ie, your embed code starts with “//assets.adobedtm.com”)
  • An FTP self-hosted library (DTM would push changes through FTP to a location on your own servers)
  • A downloaded self-hosting option (you would manually download after changes and put onto your servers).

Technically, all three of these options also exist in Launch, though the approach is slightly different. Since I ended up having to get some clarification from Adobe on how to use Launch to copy these methods, I figured I’d document my findings here . When creating an adapter, you have the option of Managed by Adobe or SFTP:

If you select SFTP, it’s slightly different from in DTM, but the effect is the same.

How To Use the “Download” Method

If you want to go the download route, you still can, but it’s a bit hidden, so I’ll walk through it. Choose “Managed by Adobe” here, but then when setting up the corresponding environment, choose “Create Archive” and specify where the file will live on your servers (this is important because each file within the library package needs to know how to reference other files within the library package):

(You can even encrypt the file if you’d like extra security, so that a password would be required to open/view the archive).

Then, once you’ve built the library (and you MUST build it AFTER you’ve set it to “create archive”, or there won’t be anything to download), when viewing your environments click on the “install” icon:

This should give you a popup where you have the ability to “Download Latest Archive”:

This should download a .zip to your browser, the contents of which you can now put on your server. Be aware that the folder(s) within this zip may change names between builds (like the “BL1f0491fb5eb14ad3b60996dd31aedaa6” folder in my image below, in a previous build had been “BL92309a949e564f269ce6719b1136910f”), so if you are trying to merely paste one build over another, you may want to clean out the old subfolders afterwards to keep the overall folder clean.

Hopefully this helps fill some of the documentation gaps out there. Please let me know if you have any additional insight or questions!