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Last week we briefly touched on utmt, mentioning that by default it will not show in the utm.gif request, and when this is the case the call is counted as a pageview. However, when one executes an action that is not a pageview, utmt will be labeled with the corresponding action type. Today we’re going to look at the ‘event’ type.
Events are pretty useful tools, allowing you to define actions other than pageviews. Previously to track a non-pageview action you would need to use a virtual pageview (what a concept) which would record an action (say clicking on a button, a flash object, or menu) as a pageview. Events allow us to do this without inflating our pageview count and gives us a means of defining more specific data about what action has taken place.

What is an event?

Events are “called” using the _trackEvent() method in the source code of a page object, widget, or video. One then specifies the event with a category, action, opt_label, and opt_value. Only category and action are required, but label and value are important as well.

  • category (required): This is the name of the category of the events you’re trying to track.
  • action (required): This is often used to define the type of ineraction the user is having with the item that is calling the event.
  • label (optional): Let’s you define alternate dimensions for event data,
  • value (optional): This is a numerical entry that you can use to give more definition to the event.

This allows you to define some interesting data about users. Google provides two event tracking libraries intended to illustrate how extended event tracking can be implement via site-wide wrappers, and which also illustrate how flexible the event system can be.:

Why not virtual pageviews?

As I mentioned earlier, previous to events being included in GA, people would often use virtual pageviews for similar tracking tasks. Even with events, people would often use virtual pageviews for events which they wanted to attribute goals to due to, but with GAv5 you can now assign goals to events and so there really is no reason not to use them. You no longer have to inflate your pageviews in order to track actions!

But what about the utm.gif?

To test your events, click on whatever causes one and watch your requests. You should end up with a GET request for the utm.gif with the utme query which matches the terms defined in your event. Your utme should correspond to the attributes you entered when setting _trackEvent().

Here’s your standard utm.gif request for a basic event:

[/html]
utmwv=4.9.1
utmn=1234567890
utmhn=[site url]
utmt=event
utme=5(object*action*label)(value)
utmcs=ISO-8859-1
utmsr=1680×1050
utmsc=32-bit
utmul=en-us
utmje=1
utmfl=10.2%20r154

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