Ad Block Tracking With Google Analytics: Code, Metrics, Reports

You don’t use an ad blocker, right? Of course not! You would never want to take away the opportunity a content creator has online to monetize their work via ads.
I know that at least some of you think I’m being sarcastic. I am not, and this post is all about getting the data to show you that I am indeed not being sarcastic.
I am insanely excited that we can track ad blocking behavior in Google Analytics, so easily. This post covers these key elements:
Here’s how this post unfolds…

1. Ad block: #wth
2. Technical how-to implement enhanced code guidance (Google Tag Manager or direct)
3. Setting Google Analytics front end elements (custom dimensions, advanced segments)
4. Five Reports and KPIs that deliver critical insights from ad blocking behavior

While you could call on your favorite IT BFF to do this for you, let me encourage you by saying that if I can do this all by myself…. You can do it too! Honestly, it is that easy.
Excited? Let’s go!
1. Ad block: #wth
The reason you might think I was being sarcastic above is that there is such venom in the media (of course the media!) about people who use ad blockers, and an incredible amount of hoopla around how the only reason media is dying is the awful people using ad blockers in their web browsers.
The reality is not quite that cut and dry.
First, plant me firmly in the column of people who believe that using an ad blocker is a personal choice, each person makes the moral decision they are most comfortable with. Second, I believe that the let me make cheap money by

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A Great Analyst's Best Friends: Skepticism & Wisdom!

Here’s something important I’ve observed in my experience in working with data, and changing organizations with ideas: Great Analysts are always skeptical. Deeply so.
This was always true, of course. But, it has become mission critical over the last few years as the depth, breadth, quantity and every other dimension you could apply to data has simply exploded. There is too much data. There are too many tables/charts/”insights” being rammed down your throat. There has been an explosion of “experts.”
If you are not skeptical, you are going to die (from a professional perspective).
And, yet… You can’t be paralyzed by skepticism. At some point, you have to jump. Or, you are dead (again, professionally).
Let’s do this post in two pieces.
First, a plea to be skeptical, of everything and everybody, illustrated using an example from one of the most respected sources of data out there. Followed, by advice on getting to a decision rather than what happens to poor analysts: paralysis.
Second, as we are on the topic of great analysts, I want to share how to recognize that you might be one, from a macro perspective, and, if you are, or are not, what’s your value to your company.
Surely, you are intrigued!
#1A: Skepticism is your BFF.
I saw these two numbers presented the other day: 42% of online shoppers use video for pre-purchase research. 64% use YouTube to find products.
As soon as I heard them, I knew they were horse-manure.
The source of skepticism was simple, neither number is true for me – and I’m in a place, with people, who are the most connected people on the planet with more devices to do this type of research if it was true.

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The Marketing < > Analytics Intersect: My Newsletter!

I want you to sign up for something very, very special I’m doing: Writing short stories from the intersection of marketing and analytics.
My goal is to get you promoted, you are going to love it. So. Please do sign up. But, first, as you’ve come to expect from this blog… Context…
Should you own or rent?
The logic we are taught from when we were babies is that it is better to own than rent. Reality is actually a bit more complicated.
In our context, let’s consider two applications of own and rent.
In the past I’ve spoken about own vs. rent in context of platforms. Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn are platforms where you rent your existences. Mobile and desktop websites, mobile applications are platforms you own. You own the content, you set your own creativity limits (no 140 characters or videos of only xx resolution), and you own the data on platforms you own.
I’ve also spoken about own vs. rent in context of audiences. You rent audiences on TV, Magazines, Search, Display, etc. You own audiences on your email lists, on forums you host etc.
Audiences and platforms, two places to bring our own and rent lens.
Before we go on, a quick word on the word own. It does feel odd to say you own anyone/thing. Own in this context is like as much ownership as you can apply to a seed you plant in your front yard. You need to protect it, you need to nurture it, you need to champion on its behalf, and you need to be unselfish for a long, long, long time, and maybe some day you get flowers. And, here’s the most amazing thing, if

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Rock Analytics More: Obsess About Goals And Goal Values!

If you don’t have goals, you are not doing digital analytics. You are doing i am wasting earth’s precious oxygenalytics.
Let’s back up. Let me start with a story.
We were brain storming about the next cluster of coolness for Analytics, the conversation quickly went to what Analysts need to look at on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. I started to outline a simple framework that stated that no one should look at anything daily (that should all be automated and run off automated or custom set thresholds – things don’t really change materially on a daily basis), weekly should be based on stuff that borders reporting squirrel work and pinches of analysis ninja work, and monthly…. well super analysis ninja stuff. And, then I started to redefine what daily, weekly and monthly even means. From there, it is only a hop, skip and jump to the most deadly question in analytics….

What’s the business solving for?

Everything came to a screeching halt. This beautiful daily, weekly, monthly blog post I was drafting in my head to share my excitement with you about thinking analysis differently went poof.
It pains me how critical it is to know what the heck we are solving for with our analytics, and how few people identify goals for their website (mobile or desktop). The reason is simple: If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll get somewhere and you’ll be miserable.
We see this everyday. “Analysts” spewing data out left right and center, after spending so much time tagging and re-tagging and Google Tag Managering. Yet, few Marketers or executives take them seriously (because they don’t know what the heck all that means to the business

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Excellent Analytics Tip #27: Chase Smart Calculated Metrics!

For the last decade (#omg!), I’ve consistently complained about a fundamental flaw in Web Analytics tools: They incentivize one night stands, rather than engagements matching customer-intent.
This leads to owners of digital experiences (insanely) expecting all visitors to their websites to convert right away – anything less than that is a failure. Damn the intent the customer is expressing.
It also results in Marketers obsess about awful things like last-click conversions (die last-click attribution die!). They make silly user experience decisions (Searching for car insurance options? We will remove every single thing from the page except a GET QUOTE button. Ha! Sucks to be you Visitor!). They never consider Think or Care intent, all they obsess about is Do intent (See-Think-Do-Care business framework). Not even all of the Do, just the strongest of commercial intent. The very bottom of the Do! It really is quite crazy.
You’ll agree all of this sounds quite insane. Not just insane, so visibly insane that everyone should see through it and fix their minds/reports/strategies. So, why are we still so obviously wrong and still on the insane path?
Simple. It is just how all of the Digital Analytics tools are configured at their very core.
Every standard report in every standard tool is configured off Visits (or in Google Analytics language, Sessions), rather than Visitors (GA language, Users). The specific metric I’ve been mad about since day one of this blog (May 14th, 2006!) is Conversion Rate. It is measured as Orders/Visits. [Or, its variation Outcomes/Sessions]
Built into that is the mental model that if you visit a website, then every Visit has to result in money for the site owner. Else, it is a failed visit. Scroll

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Great Storytelling With Data: Visualize Simply And Focus Obsessively

The difference between a Reporting Squirrel and Analysis Ninja? Insights.
As in, the former is in the business of providing data, the latter in the business of understanding the performance implied by the data. That understanding leads to insights about why the performance occurred, which leads to so what we should do.
Do you see how far away a Reporting Squirrel’s job is from that of an Analysis Ninja?
For one, I hope you see the massive investment in self-development of business skills required to have the foundation required to get to the why and, even more, the so what.
Pause. Reflect on the implication of that why and so what on your current skills/career.
I’m sure you came up with a set of actions you can take to evolve from a squirrel to a ninja, or, if you are already a ninja, how to become even more awesome at ninja’ness.
One of the actions that both clusters will come up with is the ability to communicate the insights you discover. Even if you have really amazing why and so what, I’ve observed many Analysts die at the last mile: Presenting their whys and the so whats, in the form of stories.
In fact 86.4% of all Analyst careers fail due to a lack of this critical last mile skill!

Ok, ok. I kid. I kid.
It is really 88%. : )
Tom Fishburne’s wonderful cartoon is here for another purpose.
We send out our multi-tab spreadsheets, our best Google Analytics custom reports, our great dashboards full of data , and more to the tactical layer of data clients. The Directors, the Marketers, the Optimization employees and our resident social media gurus. The valiant hope is that they will

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Speed, Focus, Smart Insights: 5 Google Analytics Custom Reports FTW!

Standard reports stink. Custom reports rock!
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you are quite familiar with this sentiment. I’ve expressed it often. :)
The primary reason is simple: You are unique. Your business is unique. Why would a report created for everyone work for the special someone that you are?
There are other great reasons as well.
Custom reports allow you to deeply focus (by eliminating the rif-raf metrics and dimensions, they save time and show just what you want). When shared, custom reports allow you to deliver deeper relevance. Custom reports allow you to package up entire datasets for deeper analysis.
I’ve shared a whole bunch of custom reports in the past. You can download them into your Google Analytics account via one click (along with some lovely Advanced Segments and a Dashboard). Just go to the GA Solutions Gallery and click Import: Occam’s Razor Awesomeness.
You can download a bunch more, that are not yet in the bundle above, by following the links at the end of this post. Seven more! The include single custom reports that replace all/most current standard reports in GA on Mobile, Content, Paid Search and Acquisition. Your life will be simpler. Grab the above, then grab the ones at the end of this post.
Today, I want to share a few of my recent favorites that solve day-to-day challenges in clever ways.
But, before we go there I want to share an important concept. Many custom reports are wrong because we mess up the fundamental data model in analytics. We mis-align metrics and dimensions across Users, Session, Hits. If you want to create accurate custom reports (or apply advanced segments), this post is mandatory reading:

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Ten Hidden Gems In Google Analytics: Do Smarter Web Data Analysis!

The 80/20 rule applies to our use of web analytics tools as well. Most of us use just a small amount of power our tools contain.
This hurts my feelings! Ok, not so much hurts my feelings and more that I’m sad you are not taking advantage of all of the features at your disposal to drive smarter decisions by your leadership teams.
Regardless of the tool you have, it is always prudent to take a fresh look at a familiar tool every once in a while and see what you’ve been missing. I recommend that periodically you gather folks around you for lunch, pull up Adobe Analytics on the big screen in the conference room, let each person expose one hidden report or feature. You’ll be surprised at how much you learn, and, like an Easter egg hunt, the whole thing is fun all by itself.
As many of you already have access to Google Analytics, in this post I want to re-introduce some of the features/reports/concepts that most likely fall outside of the normal 20% you use regularly. My hope is to aid in your persistent quest to deliver more impactful IABIs (Insights, Actions the leadership should take, Business Impact).
Some of these hidden gems are small, some big, some you might know and have ignored, and some never crossed your radar. Pop open your GA account in a different tab, or your WebTrends or your WebTrekk or IBM Analytics accounts, and follow along.
But, first… It is important to point out that some things are a bit hidden and not used as much, like the Real Time reports in Google Analytics but I’m not quite filled with grief about them….

Even

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The Magic of Universal Analytics: Strategy, Tactics, Implementation Tips

In a Q&A after a keynote a couple of years ago, I was asked: “When will traditional business analysis subsume the web analytics silo?”
My reply: “All business will ultimately be digital, so, if anything, web analytics will subsume business analysis!”
That was a half-cheeky reply. But, if you reflect upon the developments in analytics over the last couple of years it is incredible to see that we, web analytics, have moved so quickly towards the aforementioned outcome.
In fact, even the term digital analytics is too stifling. It is all just business analysis – with digital being a dominant factor in influence (marketing, advertising, experiences, connections, relationships et. al.), digital plus real world owning outcomes (of the commerce type) and some facets of influence.
Business analysis. No digital. No web. No offline. No just this or that silo.
And, 15 years later I get to go back to my first job title after graduating from MBA school. Senior Business Analyst! : )
So, in our world, web analytics, what is helping us embrace to this change? Moving us away from our digital only silo? A little something, that Google Analytics calls, Universal Analytics.
It was announced to the world perhaps 24 months ago – in classic Google fashion, with a bold vision that was not fully baked. Gotta love those betas! The team at Google, thanks to that bold vision, has continued to invest time and people, and execute quickly. Universal analytics has been out, in proper fully baked production release, for a little while. It has exciting new features, an exciting cluster of new analyses you can do, and a lot that was impossible before. It allows you to be a full-blooded Business

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