De-bugging Web Analytics Tags

January 21, 2009

Now that the tagging plan has been completed, the code has been written, and the tags in place one of the tasks that is usually asked is for web analyst to be-bug the tags to make sure the tags are what you expected when you created the tagging plan. This is a task I am asked to do on a continuous basis. I de-bug tags, not just when a site is first tagged, but on an ongoing basis. There are several de-bugging tools that you can use; Fiddler Tool, Web Analytics Solutions Profiler (WASP), Charles Debugger, and Firebug. The tool that I use the most often is the Charles Debugger, followed by the Web Analytics Solutions Profiler. One of the things that I like about the Charles Debugger is I can view all of the pages that I have viewed or actions that I have taken on a site, though I use the Web Analytics Solution Profiler for a quick check of the tags on a page. When I de-bug new tags, I open the Tagging Strategy Worksheet that I created and then I open up the Charles Debugger. I look at the different pages and take the different actions to test each scenario in the tagging strategy worksheet. This gives me an opportunity to see if the tags being thrown match what I had envisioned for the tag. If the tags being thrown matches my vision in the tagging strategy worksheet, I then put an “x” in the Working column to let me know that I tested that information, so when I come back to review the worksheet to do additional testing I know which tags are working.

Charles or the Web Analytics Solutions Profiler can de-bug more tools than just Omniture, though my examples here are for Omniture. In this Screen Shot of the Charles De-bugger, you will see the different items to look at in the de-bugger. The first thing you need to look for is the Omniture report suite name (RSID). You will notice the The first numbers, indicates which Omniture server the report suite is on and the is the Omniture third party collection code. If your site is on first party cookies, you will see something like “metrics.RSID”. You can see all of the page information and/or the flash interactions. You will also notice the variable information on the right side, it is in numerical order, so the props and eVar information is mixed together. When I de-bug new tags on a site, I usually test different scenarios to make sure the tags are doing what I expect them to. As I mentioned before, the Charles De-bugger can be used for than just Omniture. Here is a Screen Shot of Web Trends tags using the Charles de-bugger. The Charles de-bugger can also help if you have more than one web analytics tools on the site. Here is a Screen Shot of Three Different Web Analytics Tags on a site. As I mentioned before, I use the Web Analytics Solutions Profiler to help me de-bug tags on a single page and/or multiple tags at one. Since the Web Analytics Solutions Profiler recognizes several hundred different tools, it makes it very easy to tell which tool’s tags you are viewing. Here is a Screen Shot of the Web Analytics Solution Profiler that show multiple tags on a site.

Though a most of my examples are Omniture based, you obviously can de-bug more than just Omniture and create a tagging strategy spreadsheet for more than Omniture. Some of the tools might not have as many options as Omniture, so the tagging strategy spreadsheet might not be as detailed as my example. The first tool that I implemented was Coremetrics. If I had developed a similar tagging spreadsheet to give to the developer, it would have answered a lot of his questions and we could have implemented Coremetrics a little quicker than we did. I could have put which tags go on which types of pages, the categories that should be assigned for each product depending on how the site was browsed, how to tag the onsite searches, and marketing tags. Creating this type of information will make it easier to de-bug the site in the future.

7 Responses to “De-bugging Web Analytics Tags”

  1. S.Hamel Says:

    Thanks for mentioning WASP! 🙂
    Charles Proxy is a great tool and I also use it.

    I think one of the great benefit of WASP, compared to Charles, is the fact it is much more user friendly than having to decipher the tags manually. Especially in WASP v1.0 and later, the sidebar offers an enhanced view of the tags for Omniture SiteCatalyst and Google Analytics that makes it dead easy to spot potential tagging issues.

    Of course, the other thing that Charles can’t do is crawl your site and tell you which pages are either untagged or incorrectly tagged! 🙂

    Stéphane Hamel

    • webanalyticsguy Says:


      Thank you for your comment. WASP is a great tool and I use it all the time and have recommended it to my co-workers. It is definitely much easier to understand. I use it constantly to spot of web analytics tags. I like Charles to help me check click tags and to check my browsing history. I definitely like the new crawling feature of WASP. Any chance in a future release to be able to save browsing history and click tags that are thrown?

  2. S.Hamel Says:

    Indeed, you can already export the results of a crawl or an ongoing session to a CSV file or use the built-in data browser. This is an area that will continue to be improved in future releases.


  3. floor jack Says:

    I must say, that I can not agree with you in 100%, but that’s just my IMHO, which indeed could be wrong.
    p.s. You have a very good template for your blog. Where did you find it?

    • webanalyticsguy Says:

      I would not except everyone to agree with me. That is the beauty of web analytics, there are several different ways to accomplish the same thing.

      Thank you. It is one of the templates that wordpress offers. It is called Emire.

  4. […] Charles DebuggerA tool similar to Fiddler2, see this blog post on how to use it for Web Analytics Code Debugging. […]

  5. […] Charles Debugger A tool similar to Fiddler2, see this blog post on how to use it for Web Analytics Code Debugging. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: