Quick tip: track code version

One of the suggestions I usually did when I worked with a new client was to track the s_code version. Now that we are moving to DTM, we do not have any more the concept of the s_code, but we have the concept of publishing new rules, which is similar to an s_code version. The idea is to keep a value in a prop, which is changed every time a new s_code is pushed live or a new set of rules is published. My typical suggestion is to add both a date and a version to the string.

This is a typical report looks like:

scodeversions

It is very clear when the different versions of the s_code went live. But not only that, it can be seen that, after the release of a new version, it takes a couple of days to propagate. For example, on 21st January, two versions are still reported by browsers.

There is not much business value from this report and I cannot imagine any web analyst pulling a report with this dimension. However, the idea behind this data is to be able to easily track errors that are introduced with each release. Think about these two complementary scenarios:

  • An new error is reported in the analytics code. Checking when this error occurred first, it is noticed that it the date matches when a new s_code/DTM version were published. As a consequence, you can initially concentrate on the changes introduced with the latest release.
  • The previous error is fixed and published. However, there is still a small number of cases where this error is occurring. By checking the visits for each version of the code, you can see whether some users are still using the old/buggy version of the code. As these users update their caches, you can see that the incidence of the problem is fading away.

Use a tag manager

Back in the old days, the only way to add Web analytics code to a website, was through manual coding. If you were using Adobe Analytics, you would need to add two pieces of code into the website: the s_code and the on-page code. The s_code is a JavaScript file with common code for Adobe Analytics (SiteCatalyst) and the on-page code contains the page-specific data. I am sure many of you are familiar with these lines of code:

While this does not seem to be a great problem, my experience with many customers shows that this traditional solution is far from ideal. Typical issues that I have found are:

  • Web developers have usually little or no knowledge of Adobe Analytics code. The moment you mention “eVar” or “prop”, they completely disconnect from the conversation until they clearly understand what these words mean. Do not get me wrong, I have been a developer myself, I have nothing against developers, but I know that it is very difficult to find a web developer that understands Adobe Analytics.
  • Changes take a very long time to be published. Even the minimum code change (just adding an eVar, for example), can take weeks, if not months, before it is live. The main reason is that, any new feature must be added to a scrum backlog, a change request…
  • Disconnect between IT and marketing. These two departments tend to have very different goals. As a consequence, what is of great importance for a web analyst, might be considered low priority by the scrum master.

If you search for more reasons, you will find many more.

So, what is the solution? Use a tag management solution, like Adobe Dynamic Tag Management. This is not the silver bullet that will solve all your problems, but it will help move forward more easily. Do not even think on developing your own solution: it will take you years before you have a solution that matches the worst commercial solution.