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Auto-sGTM explained

Ok, this is the big one. A full, end-to-end explanation of our solution.

We’ve been having a lot of conversations around Auto-sGTM and they often feel repetitive and like we need to be clearer. Often we get requests for further information - so we wanted to document it for clear and easy follow up. 

But there is a lot of detail.

Breaking this up might help a bit. So, let's look at it this way

  1. TLDR

  2. Why did Auto-sGTM come to be?

  3. What is it?

  4. How does Auto-sGTM work for me?

  5. What questions should I ask?

  6. How much does it cost and how long does it take?

  7. Client testimonials


This one slider should succinctly showcase the longer explanation we’re going to go into.

This is what you get, how it works, and why it’s important.

Duga Digital Auto-sGTM
Auto-sGTM in one slide

Why did Auto-sGTM come to be?

It started with a conversation with a prospective client. They operate across Europe and have annual revenues in excess of £14bn.

They had been quoted A YEAR long project for the migration of digital tracking from client-side to server-side. The reaction this deserved cannot be repeated here.

But it got us thinking - could Duga create a solution that would drive this faster? If this huge company was struggling with barriers to entry how could we change that for the digital landscape as a whole? Could we democratise the process?

And at the same time do it in such a way that demonstrates unquestionable value and benefit to the customer.

Enter Auto-sGTM.

What is it?

Since we’ve begun work on Auto-sGTM and spoken with our networks in the industry there has been a single question that wrangles more than any other.

“So it’s a script?”

The truth is the heavy lifting is done by a script. But in a project like tag migration, there is a lot at stake and the methodology and change management is more valuable than a lot of people realise.

Auto-sGTM is an automated delivery of connected tasks.

You can see an example of this running here:

The automated script will output:

  • sGTM container built in Google Tag Manager.

  • Addingwell or Cloud Run provisioned to manage the server requests we are about to embark on.

  • The following are generated in a new GTM workspace - unpublished to allow QA before go live.

    • All GA4 tracking mirrored in server-side - current projects are seeing on average 36% more data.

    • Instantly a new GA4 property is setup to collect the new server-side data for comparison - all existing GA4 settings are mirrored - key events, currency, time zone etc. 

    • Google Ads Conversions tags in server-side.

    • Google Ads Remarketing tags in server-side.

    • Google Conversion Linker tags in server-side.

    • Google Floodlight tags in server-side.

  • A final automated Looker Studio dashboard created for side-by-side visual comparison of client-side and server-side.

We’ve been told that’s a hugely valuable creation of essential assets - and the smarts is reducing risk through automation.

How does Auto-sGTM work for me?

As you might imagine, we’ve thought about creating this as a product and having a simple front-end onto a web application. But we think this managed service (repeated processes) is more secure and gives our customers confidence that we are available and on-hand should any questions arise.

The process is straightforward and repeatable:

  1. Initial contact - Details collection via easy Google form and project sizing

  2. Kick-off - design of setup + paperwork agreement

  3. Implementation - Script run

  4. Outputs -  GA4 server-side property and comparison dashboard

  5. Review - Data collection and QA

  6. Upgrade - Paid marketing tracking tags

  7. Next level - data enrichment, pipelines between business operations and analytics

These are the steps we’ve taken with our clients so far. Some require more details and want to take it slowly to ensure they understand all parts of the process. Some want to get moving and see benefits as quickly as possible.

It’s flexible and we encourage you to be confident and feel the way through.

The output examples show the uplifts, manage the expectations and help tell the story to all our clients and their management teams.

Auto-sGTM comparison dashboard
Auto-sGTM comparison dashboard

What questions should be asked?

Let’s get everything on the table - there have been questions asked and we have answered them. But for everyone’s benefit they should be documented here.

“Why doesn’t everyone do this already?”

The truth is it’s been seen as hard and complex - and the main beneficiaries of this technology are marketers who often shy away from anything “server-related” as too technical for them.

“Do we need cloud engineers or be able to use Google Cloud for this?”

No, we partner with Addingwell (a leading server-side tagging provider) for clients who don’t want to run GCP (or are on Microsoft Azure or AWS as their cloud service provider).

“Do we just run this once?”

You can choose how many times to run it. You control which portions of your existing setup you want to mirror/migrate to server-side and do it in stages. We actively encourage this de-risking behaviour.

"What are the benefits and why should I do this now?"

There are some known benefits:

  • Removing code from the client-side has seen increases in page speed and performance of up to 15%.

  • Using server-side tracking can negate the impact of ad-blockers in analysing user behaviour.

  • Gaining data control back from the advertising platforms.

The answer about when to do this varies by client - but the regulations imposed on the digital industry, across multiple browsers, and the direction of third-party cookie removal by Google is all pointing towards this becoming the norm sooner rather than later.

How much does it cost and how long does it take?

The biggest question of all, right?

And the answer depends on the existing complexity of the tracking setup and volumes required to migrate/mirror.

The best way to demonstrate this is with 2 recent examples from different clients.

The first example (in April 2024) was a simple 1 domain, a single tag management container, less than 100 tags/triggers/variables and only using template tags. This would be around 5 days and £5.25k+VAT.

On the other end of the scale was an engagement in May 2024 - a more complex setup with over 200+ domains globally, 250+ containers, each with around 50 tags/triggers/variables, and mixing customised tags with template tags. This would be around 25 days and £78k.

These are indicative costs for awareness and should be discussed.

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