Why a mobile developer should know what Google Tag Manager means at all?
Unlike the web, where developers rarely need to worry about promoting their website, the mobile developer is often in a position where he and his team have to think about the app’s success once it is on the store. If you fall in the category of developer-business person-marketer-hybrid, you should know what amazing stuff the Google Tag Manager can do for your app.
The Google Tag Manager for mobile apps (it was originally created to serve the web) is used together with Google Analytics to help you abstract the tracking details from the app's codebase and makes both marketers and developers lives easier. Implementing GTM in your mobile app does require some initial technical investment, but from then on, marketers can update certain parts of the app through the GTM interface without interacting with the developers, and without having to resubmit the app on the store.
We were asked by our marketing team to implement the Google Tag Manager in our Android UI Examples app, and I figured I’d share my experience with it.
In this blog post series I am not going to dive into Google Analytics, but rather into the way Google Tag Manager plays with Google Analytics, and why you as an Android developer should be using it instead of directly integrating Google Analytics SDK into your app.
What is Google Tag Manager?
Google Tag Manager is a concept that Google launched quite some time ago, improving collaboration between developers and marketers. It eliminates the need for restructuring application code as a result of new marketing intelligence requirements. For example, if there are application parameters such as texts or pictures that depend on an ongoing marketing strategy, these can be dynamically updated by the marketing guys using the Google Tag Manager back-end, without the involvement of software development. Or, if there is a need to update some tracking codes, this can also be done by the marketing specialist, without interaction with the IT department. Google Tag Manager also enables you to extract the complex interaction between tags from your app logic and let the marketers alone define interaction rules. There is a lot of information online about how tag managers work in general, so I will go directly to how Google Tag Manager works with Google Analytics.
How do Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager Interact?
The Google Tag Manager console lets you define different tags and manage the rules that trigger them. One specific tag type is the Universal Analytics tag, which enables you integrate your Google Analytics project with Google Tag Manager. This tag is easily set up by associating it with your Analytics key. This will expose the tags you are firing to your Analytics project in their raw form. From that point, you can define what data is sent to your Analytics project, when and how, without the need of changing your application’s code--of course, assuming you have smartly integrated the Tag Manager’s SDK into your app on the first place.
We will dive into this particular topic in the next blog post of this series. Besides the technical aspects of the SDK integration, we are also going to dive into more details regarding the semantics of the data we're sending to the backend.