When to not use a data layer ?

Data layer is oversold to people. They think that data layer is the only & ideal way to send data to Adobe Analytics. However, this is not the case. Before we get into the details – let us understand how a data layer works:

Site -> Data Layer -> Launch/ DTM – > Analytics

When does the data layer approach makes sense ?

This approach makes a lot of sense when

1)You have a common definition & common parameters (attributes or objects or Analytics variables – eVars/ Props)to be captured across your digital properties (the WHAT)

Examples are pageName, PageURL , Profile ID etc. These are the most common attributes you want to capture for your site and hence you see them in most of the data layers.

2) You have a common way to implement (the HOW).

Consider- you have 10 sites and you are configuring “search result clicked” as a parameter. One site uses a search service like GSA and the configuration required to populate the “search result clicked” depends entirely on the flexibility of GSA. GSA doesnt even provide a direct way to measure “search result clicked”.

Another site is using a search service like **LW. LW in this case provides a way to capture the value.

Another site uses a different service and you dont know what is in store.


So, on the whole though you have a standard WHAT – you dont have a standard HOW because of these technical differences. So,  you will be required to go ahead and configure this parameter (search result clicked) on each & every site – which by the way is different for each site. Add to this the extra step of configuring it in Launch.

Adding such extra attributes to the data layer only make the data layer bulky, increases chances of the incorrect results being shown because of difference in HOW – remember each site is different & will be configured by a different way.

Tag Management solutions provide many options to capture data directly besides the data layer. Some of these options are :

  1. Cookie
  2. Local Storage
  3. DOM Attribute
  4. Session Storage

I am not against a data layer but I want to adopt a stance which is :

  1. Realistic
  2. Efficient &
  3. Ensures Smooth Data Collection on the whole

So, to sum it up – It is recommended to have a data layer which picks values for your common & standard attributes but you should not think that data layer route is the only way to send data to Analytics.

**This is just a scenario and doesnt reflect the real capabilities of LW & GSA

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