Development Spotlight: JSON – Basics and JavaScript Resources


JSON Jason Statham
Jason Statham is a perfect add for an action movie cast. JSON…not as much. ;-)

When movie-philes hear the word “Jason”, the first person that will come to their mind is probably Statham – yes, the actor from action movies like the Expendables and Transporter series. Or Jason from the Friday the 13th horror movie series, for those who like scary feelings rather than action.

For marketers serious in digital technology, a more practical association is a word from the programming world… JSON!

JSON (Javascript Object Notation) is a data protocol means for establishing
database pairs in an object oriented familiar format.  JSON is a variation of Javascript.
JSON is becoming an essential component in sharing data in an integrated marketing strategy. I noted its importance within data structure in this CMS Wire post How Marketers Can Get A Better Handle On Data.

In this post, we’ll take a simple look at JSON – what it can do for a digital presence and what checkers can be used along the way when developing an array.

The data in JSON is typically written in a string and value pair, similar in structure to the objects and arrays in J/S but adds quotations.  A simple example JSON object and variable array would look like the following:

 var fruit = {
          “kind” ; “grape”,
          “color” ; “green”,
          “quantity”; 25,

In it, an object called fruit is listing a set of key strings – kind, color, and quantity –  and associated values – grape, green, and 25, respectively.

JSON has grown in importance with the rise of APIs, tag managers, and other solutions which capture data in the browser. Data is typically passed in XML and HTTP, but JSON has been increasingly used as a format that can pass data easily into other programming languages such as Ruby. The site lists the programming languages that support JSON easily.

The JSON format has grown popular with developers because of its ease in parsing data.  Because of a lean structure in specifying data, JSON provides a fast loading potential for applications and sites.

There are a few checker tools available online that can help developers and techno-savvy professionals alike verify JSON code concerns.  Here are a list of a few checkers with a brief description of their value.

  • validates expressions with a simple side by side comparison of code and result.  The tool also lets you save files as well as open files, saving users time in sharing code that was prepared on an text editor.
  • JSHint can scan a typed expression and validate code errors. It features adjustment selectors for accounting for other scripts or other conditions that can cause a syntax error with the typed expression. If JSHint finds a problem, it returns a message on screen describing that problem and its approximate location within the source code.
  • Cocoa JSON is an editor that runs on the Apple OS, so Macbook and iPad users can rejoice!  This tool provides a locally hosted means to verify code, as well as other development tasks, such as establishing API structures and OAuth authorization.
  • JSONView is available for the Firefox and Chrome browsers. It allows the browser to visualize JSON from within the browser in a cleaner format, permitting users to see arrays more clearly.
In addition to those, users can consider developer tools in web browsers to view the elements within a web or app page.  Firefox and Chrome are popular with developers, while Microsoft has added a F12 web developer to its Internet Explorer browser   In addition, Google announced that it is adding a Javascript checker to its Webmaster Tool set.  So there are a number of verification tools available for brief testing and syntax edits.

Analytics Tip: How The Google Analytics Measurement Protocol Hit Builder Helps Your Business

Google Analytics Measurement Protocol Example

When I first describe analytics to clients back in the day, I direct their attention to two definitions, metrics, which are scores to measurement a certain behavior, and dimensions, which show where the behavior occurred.  I use this approach to explain what should appear in their reports.

But today that explanation falls short of what commonly worries marketers: what data should appear in a dashboard and what to do about it. Web analytics solutions are deemphasizing “web” in their functionality, embracing means to incorporate external data into the reports.   This new feature has influenced my explanation to clients – that they need to consider the customer experience beyond a webpage.

Measurement Protocol in Google Analytics is meant to incorporate digital devices metrics into the analytics reports. It achieves this through a HTTP call to the Google Analytics server used for creating reports.
Adding Measurement Protocol takes a developer’s insight to appreciate the parameters and diagnose if a call actually worked correctly.  To make calls easier for developers to verify, Google introduced a new online tool called Measurement Protocol Hit Builder.   Developers construct a test measurement protocol and then receive a validation if the call functions correctly.
So how does this work? Well there are several parameters that are entered at the Hit Builder page.  The parameters support a POST or GET HTTP server call to the Google Analytics server.  These parameters form a payload – the data that is to be returned from the server.
There are four standard parameters in the protocol:
  • Protocol release version
  • Tracking ID, which represents the Google Analytics property or the account to which the data is associated
  • Client ID for a unique user
  • A “hit type,” which gives an indication of the type of interaction collected for a particular user. There are several selections, each a match to metrics typically seen in a Google Analytics report.
In addition to these main parameters, there are optional parameters meant to match device data to dimension and metrics within Google Analytics. Google describes the entire list of optional parameters here
Once these parameters are entered, the developer receives an on-screen indicator of acceptance at the server.
All of this implies how Google Analytics, a web analytics tool, has gone further than being a tool strictly for websites.  The same can be said for other solutions. Many analytics tools, such as WebTrends Streams and Adobe Analytics, have also incorporated external data into their reports.
The best recommendation for a marketer deciding what to do first is to see If a web analytics solution is already in usage.  The marketer can then verify which data collection is in place and decide what kinds of data can be added, if necessary.

The IoT-related trend in cross device measurement has influenced how marketers must identify data that appears in their dashboards and reporting tools.   That change in outlook brings new meaning to dimensions and metrics, and brings new ideas into how analytics can aid your business.

Google Analytics Trash Can Data Recovery Feature: What The Trash Can Is For

Google Analytics Trash Can
Google Analytics Provides a Neat Way to Recover Deleted Data, Assuming a Short Period Had Passed Between Deletion and Error Discovery
Every once in a while, data needs to be removed from an account. Every once in a while, the removal is accidental.  Google has provided few options (read “ZERO!”) if the data is lost.  Been so since its introduction in 2006.
Well now times have changed, and they have brought new options for managing analytics data. Earlier in 2015 Google introduced a beta feature for Google Analytics called Trash Can. This feature allows users to recover deleted data associated in an analytics account.
To access Trash Can, users navigate to the admin page in the Google Analytics accounts.  The can appears in the account column.  Select it and then choose the data that you want to recover.
Data from within accounts, properties, and views can be recovered.  35 days from the date of deletion is the threshold for how far back deleted data can be retrieved.
So while trash can provides another way to recover, it is still important to check on the data regularly. If data is deleted and checking data is conducted in periods beyond 35 days, then it’s possible to overlook the point where deleted data is recoverable.   Overall it is a useful feature for those who do make mistakes despite regular usage.

Social Media Tips: Create videos and increase audience reach online

Meerkat and Periscope can be used to augment your video efforts.

Reach is one of the most basic and, in an elemental way, important metrics for social media. It reflects how far content has been shared. And sharing is – again, being elemental here – important in social media.

Video has been adopted as a means to increase reach and increase engagement. Twitter just announced that user can add brief video snippets to tweets. Facebook announced a change to it algorithm to include video playback as an influence on user feeds. Add in the interest in playback from lifestreams and the new recording capabilities from mobile devices, and it become clear that video adoption is now the “new black” for engagement.

But how can small business initiate its first steps with video? Here are a few ideas on how a business can build its capabilities.

  1. Learn to remix images and video segments in an editor. You can add and delete video segments, as well as insert segments into JPEG images. Camtasia is a popular editor, but others are available.
  2. Consider embedding video in Pinterest – this Zimana post will note how this is done ( add link). Adding video can enhance Pinterest interest and can draw more visitor to a YouTube presence.
  3. Create a video channel about a subject related to the organization, business, product or service. The channel URL can be shared through Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. In addition, Youtube videos can be embedded in a Pinterest board, while a brief video may be a good candidate for Vine or Instagram account dedicated to a video topic.
  4. Embed a video in blog post with associated text. Doing so can increase the average time on site for a blog.
  5. Create a video sitemap. Video site maps tell search engines specific information about the videos relative to the site structure. Sitemaps are submitted for each search engine, though usually sites submit for the largest (Bing, Google, Yahoo). In a sitemap submitted to Google, for example, the entries must include a link to a landing page for a video and some required information like metadata which is inserted into the page HTML code. To learn more, see this link to sitemap information in Google Search console.  Video site maps can also be made in Bing. You can create a site map here.  You may want to check for stand alone software to create multiple site maps.
  6.  Consider Adwords for video. Adding a campaign in which paid search ads are displayed with video is another way to send a message into a popular search platform. Including the video in an ad can provide further engagement.
  7. Save a video file in a cloud storage that can be uploaded into a mobile device. This will permit fast access to video files. For example, a mobile phone with access to video stored on Google Drive can be shared on Facebook, YouTube, or Vine.
  8. Use a live chat such as Periscope or Meerkat to record chats. Blab can also be used, though it is used with two or more people in a conference style. There’s also a new live record in YouTube as well. The links to these hangouts can be displayed in a browser or shared, providing recorded material for viewing.  Users can create video for specific groups on the social media networks.
  9. Use hashtags  on the major social media platforms. Currently Instagram, Google Plus, and Facebook have joined Twitter in offer hashtags. These Zimana posts can show examples and resources.


How To Break Into Marketing – Discussion feat. Pierre DeBois and John Anhalt of SpotHub – @GAChicago

General Assembly invited Zimana founder Pierre DeBois and Joe Anhalt, Marketing Manager at Spothub to discuss the current state of digital marketing. The talk with budding students and young marketers took place in Space, an office incubator in Chicago.

Watch these three video to gain tips on what goes on during a typical marketer’s day, what is takes to develop the skills of digital marketing, and what are the latest trends impacting digital marketing today.