Enhancing GA4 Event Tracking: A Consent-Ready sGTM Option for Third-Party Vendor iFrames

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AUTHOR'S NOTE: This article is not a how-to guide; rather, it explains the reasoning and processes involved. Each implementation will vary slightly based on the platform. Our solution is not limited to GA4 and can be tailored to other platforms such as Adobe Analytics. If you have any questions specific to your setup, please reach out.

Does your website use iFrames for functions like scheduling or form submissions? In recent years, many vendors, including first-party homegrown or self-hosted solutions, have started offering GA4 integrations as users migrate from Universal Analytics (UA).

However, these iFrame integrations often lack control over the data being passed. They typically require only your data stream ID and push event data to your GA4 property. This approach can break client and session IDs, resulting in inaccurate data and disconnecting iFrame events from the rest of the user's journey.

In this article, we'll explore a server-side GTM (sGTM) consent-ready solution that addresses these common issues, providing full control over your data and ensuring seamless integration. Read on to understand the reasoning and processes behind implementing a consent-ready GA4 event tracking option for third-party vendor iFrames.

The Problem with GA4 iFrame Integrations

Integrating GA4 with iFrames on your website can be a complex task. Many vendors offer basic GA4 integrations, but these solutions often come with significant drawbacks. Understanding these common issues is essential to maintaining accurate and reliable data.

What are the most common issues with readily available GA4 iFrame integrations?

They often include:

  • Broken reporting identity (client/user IDs)
  • Broken sessions
  • Inflated metrics due to the above
  • No consent management
  • No server-side/sGTM options

A Consent-Ready sGTM GA4 Event Tracking Solution

To tackle the issues with GA4 iFrame integrations, we propose a solution that ensures better data control and integrity. This approach leverages the power of server-side Google Tag Manager (sGTM) and robust consent management, providing a seamless and accurate tracking setup.

Primary Requirement:

To implement this solution, you need one of the following:
  • The ability to inject your own GTM container alongside the iFrame on your page
  • A vendor willing to implement a set of JavaScript snippets based on the events that need tracking

Comparing Common Third-Party Integrations with Our Solution

Understanding the limitations of standard GA4 iFrame integrations is crucial for appreciating the benefits of our advanced approach. By comparing common third-party setups with our tailored solution, you will see how we address the key issues that can hinder accurate and reliable data tracking. Let's delve into the specifics of these differences to highlight why our solution stands out.
Common third-party GA4 analytics integration setup:

  • User sets GA4 stream ID in the UI
  • iFrame has gtag-based GA4 scripts that send events through that stream ID

Issues with Common Integrations

  • As the hit originates from the iFrame, it ignores your data model and settings like custom parameters and consent
  • This setup often breaks reporting identities and sessions, resulting in bad data

Our Solution:

Instead of relying on standard integrations with limited customization options, our approach takes advantage of the built-in communication features of iFrames. Here’s how it works:

  • Vendor Implementation: The vendor iFrame communicates event messages to your website.
  • Data Control: These messages operate much like a normal dataLayer push, allowing you to trigger the events of your choice.
  • Customization: You gain full control over the data, including adding event parameters that fit your data model, incorporating user consent settings and routing the hit to your server-side endpoint.
This solution ensures that your data remains accurate and connected throughout the user’s journey, providing a robust and reliable GA4 event tracking setup. Additionally, this approach's flexibility opens up potential use cases beyond the scope of this post, offering a versatile solution for various tracking needs. Stay tuned; we’ll have more insights into additional use-case scenarios soon.

Is your business using iFrames or are you a vendor looking for a better implementation option for your clients? Contact us today for an assessment!