Getting Started: DTM Basics for the First Time User

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DTM Basics for the First Time User

An introduction to the Dynamic Tag Management (DTM) interface.


Home > Dashboard

The first page seen in DTM after logging in is the dashboard. The dashboard contains a list of all of the companies to which you have access.

Company Overview

Home > Dashboard > Company Overview

Clicking into a company from the dashboard takes you to the company overview page.

If you only have access to one company then you will by default be directed to the company overview page instead of the dashboard upon login.

In DTM a web property is a collection of tools, rules, and data elements while a company is a collection of web properties.

All web properties in the company are accessed from the company overview page.

Admin level users can add new web properties from the company overview page by clicking ‘Add Property’. The only required fields when configuring a web property are ‘Name’ and ‘URL’ which can be changed at a later time if needed.

Admin level users can also manage and provision users from the company overview page via the ‘Users’ and ‘Groups’ tabs.

Property Overview

Company Overview > Property Overview

Clicking into any property from the company overview page takes you to the property overview page.

The property overview page gives a brief summary of the property configuration and serves as a gateway to the main property components – tools, rules, data elements, the publish workflow, and the property embed codes.

Property Overview > Installed Tools

In DTM tools are built-in integrations that allow for quick deployment of solutions to your site. 

Presently, DTM offers tool integrations for Adobe solutions as well as Google Analytics and Nielsen. Each of these integrations is uniquely designed to make configuration and deployment of that particular solution easier.


Pro-tip: Any 3rd party tool / tag without a native integration can be implemented in a rule through the ‘JavaScript / 3rd Party Tag’ section discussed below. 


Property Overview > Rules

Clicking the ‘Rules’ tab from the property overview page takes you to the property rules.

Rules in DTM are used to conditionally execute tools, tags, scripts, and html.

Regardless of the type, rules in DTM have two main components - the condition and the trigger. The condition indicates the scenario in which the rule will fire and the trigger indicates the item(s) that will execute when the rule fires. 

There are three types of rules in DTM – event-based, page load, and direct call.

Event-based rules are interaction driven. For example, if I wanted to track when a user clicks on a certain button I would use an event-based rule.

Page load rules are tied to the page load. For example, if I wanted to add a specific block of code on load of certain pages on my site I would use a page load rule.

Direct call rules are used in scenarios when DTM cannot detect an event in the DOM.

For example, if I want to track an AJAX event that can’t be detected in the DOM I would use a direct call rule.

Regardless of the rule type, if the condition is met the trigger will execute.

All rules types have the option to trigger third-party vendor tags or any other custom JavaScript or HTML via the ‘Javascript / Third Party Tags’ modal. 

Other trigger modals are enabled in rules when tools are added to the property. For example, if my property contains an Adobe Analytics tool and a Google Universal Analytics tool then the property rules will contain optional trigger modals for these tools.

Each tool modal offers easy methods to customize a trigger for that particular tool.

Data Elements

Property Overview > Rules > Data Elements

Clicking the ‘Data Elements’ tab within the ‘Rules’ tab takes you to the data element overview page.

Data elements are used to build a data mapping in DTM. Defining common data points as data elements enables those data points to be easily captured and leveraged within rules and tools in DTM.


An important concept in DTM is the idea of a single web property having both a staging library and a production library.

The staging library contains all of the rules, tools, and data elements configured in the web property. The production library includes only the rules, tools, and data elements that are approved and published.

Property Overview > Approvals tab

When a rule, tool, or data element is added or changed in a property an approval is automatically generated.

Property Overview > History tab

Once an item is approved, it becomes available in the ‘Unpublished Changes’ queue in the ‘History’ tab. Once an item is published, it becomes available in the production library.

This separation of libraries and associated workflow allows for more effective testing in staging without ever affecting production.  


Property Overview > Embed tab

Clicking the ‘Embed’ tab takes you to the DTM installation page.

This tab contains the various library hosting options available. By default the property leverages Akamai hosting. This method is typically acceptable for most organizations; however, if additional control over the serving of the DTM library two self-hosting options are available.

Expanding the ‘Header Code’ section in the ‘Embed’ tab reveals the staging and production embed codes for the property. 

Notice there’s one embed code for staging and one for production. This is how DTM differentiates between the staging and production libraries discussed above. When the staging embed code is installed the staging library loads. When the production embed code is installed the production library loads.

Once the header and footer embed codes are properly installed on a site the associated DTM library loads automatically on each page load.


Pro-tip: Leverage the DTM Switch Plugin to test in the web console. This will help you understand what DTM is doing on the page and allows you to locally switch to the staging library for more effective testing.

More information here:

Up next in the five part Getting Started series: DTM Technical Architecture and Hosting.


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