Finally, Google Analyitcs 4 tracking is here. And with that, the next generation of the popular measurement product can be used on WooCommerce sites. And just like every other feature of GTM4WP, the GA4 integration is free too!
2020 was a tough year for all of us. But v1.12 is finally here, and you will see more frequent updates of this plugin with a shorter changelog.
So that is new in v1.12?
Google Analytics 4 scheme in the data layer
Previously referenced as app+web properties, Google released the next major version of their measurement product as Google Analytics 4. Although the version number suggests that it is a new version after Google Analytics 3 or Universal Analytics, the product has been literally rebuilt on the basement of Firebase Analytics, another product acquired by Google several years ago.
There is a brand-new data model under the hood and the promise of the first really cross device measurement system. Not only in some reports but in all reports and metrics.
The data schema to track ecommerce interactions changed as well. Although it is backwards compatible with Universal Analytics schema, there are some changes that need the updated data layer content. GTM4WP v1.12 now added all this. There is not any new plugin option. If you have enabled enhanced ecommerce, you will get both GA3 and GA4 style data layer variables.
There is a new setup article in the how to section to help you setup tags, triggers, and variables in your Google Tag Manager container. It is much simpler than with the previous version.
Update your GA3 tags as well
You will also need to update your GA3 ecommerce tags as well, please check the documentation. Only one change but very important.
Almost updated Google Ads dynamic remarketing support
With the new Google Analyitcs 4 data layer schema you can start using the updated Google Ads remarketing tag to populate dynamic remarketing data. Only one element is still missing from the implementation: selecting the google_business_vertical variable. I will add this in v1.13 and with that, the corresponding documentation will be updated a well.
Safer IP address validation in geo and weather data features
Perhaps a less exciting but not less important change. If you are using the geo data or weather data features, GTM4WP now uses the internal IP address validation of PHP instead of using a self-made code.
Updated the blacklist / whitelist feature
Security should be a hot topic among all Google Tag Manager users. Not because GTM is not safe but because there are circumstances where you need a more advanced security setup. Blocking tag types, trigger types and variable types inside the data layer is the last line of defense. I usually recommend using this only in very rare cases.
The blacklist / whitelist implementation in GTM4WP was not updated for a while. The naming (like variables instead of macros), the available list of tag and variable types were outdated. The tab for this feature is “Security” now and it includes updated options as well.
Removed plugin features
Deprecated a long time ago, these plugin options are not part of GTM4WP anymore: tracking clicks on download links, email links and social links. All those plugin options were introduced in the very first versions of GTM4WP, when Google Tag Manager did not include the ability to track clicks on buttons and links. You can track all these interaction with GTM very easily.
The cleanup process does not stop here. In 2021, I plan to remove even more features to make place for other, more important, and more modern updates:
Standard ecommerce for WooCommerce
The so called standard or classic version of ecommerce tracking is not part of Google Analytics 4 and it is not the recommended way of ecommerce tracking in Google Analytics 3 either. You should start migrating to enhanced ecommerce as this is the future proof way of ecommerce tracking.
Standard Google Ads remarketing variable
Many years ago, the easiest way to send all meta data from the data layer to Google Ads (AdWords) was to include everything in one variable (google_tag_params) and use this one variable in your Google Ads tag. This is not the case anymore. Google changed the Google Ads tag template a lot in the past 2 years.
Dynamic remarketing for Google Ads (classic mode)
For many years, passing dynamic product information to your Google Ads tag was done by adding 3 parameters to your Google Ads remarketing tag. Plugin users used ecomm_pagetype, ecomm_prodid, ecomm_totalvalue variables for other purposes as well. With the Google Analyitcs 4 data schema a more modern way of dynamic product tracking is available in GTM4WP that needs one more addition to be able to fully utilize the data and migrate your measurement setup.
After that, ecomm_ variables will be gone in 2021 so start updating your Google Tag Manager setup. I plan to publish some blog posts about how you can replace those ecomm_ variables in certain cases so that everybody will be prepared for the change.
Removed support for older WooCommerce and WordPress versions
Support for WooCommerce 3.2 or older versions has been removed. If you are still using an old WooCommerce version, please update the environment before you update GTM4WP.
There are also plans to stop supporting WordPress 4.x and earlier versions. The 5.x branch is there since 2018, it is time to say goodbye for older WordPress sites. It would be great to keep a wider window open, but it is much easier to improve GTM4WP if I can count on new additions of the WordPress core.
Update your PHP to 7.x
PHP, the coding language behind WordPress and GTM4WP evolved a lot in the past years. The PHP community is not supporting version 7.2 or older and 7.3 is nearing its end as well. Despite this, many hosting companies are still using PHP 5.6 or older. In many cases, you have the option in your hosting control panel to switch and I strongly advise you to test your WordPress site with PHP 7.4. The WordPress core will run without errors. You will need to check if all your plugins and themes are compatible but there is a great chance they are.
In 2021, GTM4WP will be fully compatible with PHP 8 as well and the minimum PHP version you need on your hosting will be raised to PHP 7.2 or 7.4. I will make the final decision later but from the user perspective, the quicker you update your PHP to the latest version, the sooner can plugin authors start using performance boosting features that will improve the speed of Your site as well.
I hope you will enjoy these additions and make your measurement more robust and insightful.