The Implications (and Frustrations) of Bing's New Approach to Conversion Tracking - Challenge. Test. Grow. Small moves every day. | FRWD in Minneapolis MN

The Implications (and Frustrations) of Bing’s New Approach to Conversion Tracking

By December 16, 2014 Industry Topics

Bing conversion tracking not working? Yeah, ours too. Several months back, Bing Announced a roll-out of their new approach to conversion tracking. We’ve had some time to test out the new features and — full disclosure — we’re not exactly fans. It’s a dramatic departure from how virtually every other platform handles conversion tracking, and complicates technical implementations. However, there are benefits to certain users and this sets the stage for Bing re-marketing.

What’s Changed?

Legacy conversion tags (conversion 1 = JS code 1) are no more.  Currently, you can no longer create or edit existing tags. Starting April 2015, they will cease functioning completely. Yeah — WTF? Bummer.

Enter Universal Event Tracking (UET). Essentially, it could be considered Bing Analytics Lite. Place one tag across your entire site, and then configure goals in a way very reminiscent of Google Analytics goals.

Bing UET Universal Event Tracking Example

Look Familiar?

Implications (And Frustrations)

I can see the potential benefits of this approach to some users. If you have limited control over a site, it is much more straightfoward to request “place this one code on the entire site, we’ll take care of the rest.” Advertisers in this situation win out.

However, like most digital marketers — we’ve adopted a managing container tag solution (GTM) to control among other things: event tracking and media conversion tags. A universal conversion tag conflicts with this approach in multiple ways. It demands a “special case” approach for placement. It complicates the established approach to event tracking, and doesn’t play nice with existing firing/blocking rules. Realizing that event tracking now requires wonky custom JavaScript to accomplish something we already do with every other tag is — frustrating, to say the least.

Amusingly, Bing claims compatibility with Google Tag Manager, and even provides a guide to implement the code in multiple container tag platforms. Below surface level however, they side-step the technical conflicts many are likely to run into (event tracking, dataLayer variable triggers, and virtual pageviews). Admittedly, there are hack-y solutions around most issues,  but it is quite frustrating that Bing does not provide an alternative “dummy pixel fire” option to avoid all the hassle. Maybe in the future?

Bing’s Collecting More Data

Setting the stage for audience based re-marketing, or playing catch-up with Google?

One of the main touted features of UET is that (“sometime soon”) advertisers will be able to utilize cookie-based re-marketing & on-site engagement segments similar to what Google offers. That sounds like a win for everyone. However, I suspect Bing has an ulterior motive in play here: the fact that MSFT now requires you to place their code on every page of a site is a curious red flag.

Perhaps behind the scenes, they are aiming to collect a significant amount of information from websites & audiences to broaden their network’s reach. A smart approach to that end would be to force advertisers to place a data collection code on all pages of a site.  Not exactly  a shadowy conspiracy — but we become uneasy with the idea of giving Ad Networks more user data, with the prospect of  “buying” that data back via re-marketing.

Overall — we find UET a difficult change, but there will certainly be those who find value and utility in it. We’ve got our ears to the ground on any official dates on Bing Remarketing, so stay tuned for our POV there.



Post Script: GTM UET Ecommerce Tracking: For Determined Implementers and Developers Only!

I figured I’d dump a relevant knowledge-share here for those who are actually trying to wrangle with UET event tracking using GTM for things like revenue tracking. This is not by any stretch a guaranteed step-by-step, but I realize there’s virtually no other documentation on this stuff, so hopefully it’s found it’s use to someone.

My approach assumes you’re using Google Tag Manager with {{revenue}} piped into the dataLayer (uh, what? read more here). Obvious to developers, a production JS tweak will work too.

MSFT Dev docs here:[1]

This is the sample code they provide:

   window.uetq = window.uetq || [];   // Pass the computed goal value
   window.uetq.push({ 'ec':'Event category', 'ea':'Event action', 'el':'Event label', 'ev':'Event value', 'gv':amount }); 

Where ” ‘ev’:’Event value’, & ‘gv’:amount ” is, assuming you have Google Tag Manager configured to pipe revenue into the dataLayer, then the final tag should be something like;

   window.uetq = window.uetq || [];
   window.uetq.push({ 'ec':'Transaction', 'ea':'Purchase', 'el':'{{productName}}', 'ev':'{{revenue}}', 'gv':{{revenue}} }); 

Note that “ev” event value is just a redundant thing there to confuse you, but pipe it into both because it impacts different reports.

Plug the script that works into a tag, triggered to load on the eCom TY page.

You can also buddy up with a developer and hardcode this logic there too, but if you have GTM it’s a little more flexible.  Keep in mind the {{variable}} syntax is GTM specific, it’s going to be different if you’re using real Javascript.

Basically, it works like this

  1.  Page load, DOM ready. {{revenue}} is loaded into dataLayer. Almost there!
  2. UET tag fires first
  3. Custom UET code fires second, phoning home conversion + revenue.

4) Profit!

Hope that helps, it’s seriously really ugly & unintutive for marketers to configure.

Alternative hack:  Set up Bing UET to ONLY FIRE on events like “pdf download” or “eCom TY Page” using Google Tag Manager. In Bing’s interface, you can simply set the UET pageview goal to any page (.*),so anytime the tag fires, it’s considered a conversion. Limits granularity on conversions, but often it’s a totally fair trade-off.