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Working With Third-Party Marketing/Analytics Vendors

Background

Mason departments may sometimes work with third-party marketing vendors who, in many cases, will need or want either:

  • access to view the department’s analytics data and configuration (in Google Analytics), or
  • the ability to modify the analytics configuration to add their own tracking functions (typically via Google Tag Manager).

In my experience, they will usually ask for “full access” for themselves (for their convenience), even though that is usually unnecessarily expansive.

Recommendations

When working with outside marketing vendors, here are my recommendations:

Google Analytics

For Google Analytics, you should default to providing only “Read and Analyze” (view) access. If they need increased permissions to make changes, you should consider creating a separate GA view just for their use.

Creating a separate vendor-specific view will restrict the risk of unintended consequences to a new view that is segregated from the rest of your data. (We used this method when providing Wiley access to the Mason Roll-Up property.)

Besides the fact that there are many things that could go wrong (and which might not be immediately obvious) when modifying your Google Analytics account, there are also some limitations to consider, such as the limit of 20 goals per view. You might not want to give up some of the limited goal slots in your production view.

Upon review of their work, if you like what they have come-up with, you can always implement it later in your production view.

Google Tag Manager

Provide the vendor “edit” access to your GTM container, but not “publish” access.

This way they will have the ability to independently make and test their changes and additions, but won’t be able to publish the changes themselves.

When they are ready to have their changes published, they can contact you and you will then have the opportunity to review what they have added or changed and only publish it if it meets your approval. The GTM interface makes it really easy to see what changes have been made since the last published version. This is also a good way to build-in a review of their work into your process to make sure you understand what they are doing.

In order to keep your GTM container organized:

  • have the vendor keep their additions in a dedicated folder in GTM (the Mason standard GTM container now includes a dedicated folder just for this material, called “Third-Party Additions”), and
  • have the vendor prefix the names of their added tags/triggers/etc. with an abbreviation representing them, so that the content they have added is easily discernible in parts of GTM in which the display is not organized by folder.

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