Quick tip: DTM – Data Elements & Arrays

Suppose I have a data layer in my page. Suppose that data layer contains an array, like so:

	var dataLayer = {
		"page": {
			"pageInfo": {
				"pageName": "Photos",
				"author": "Jan Exner",
				"breadCrumbs": ["home","photos"]

Suppose I needed a Data Element that gives me the first element of my bread crumb list.


The naive approach would be to make a Data Element that directly accesses a JS object, like so:


Data Element Definition – Wrong

Unfortunately, that won’t work, as some of you might have encountered.

It has to do with the way DTM accesses data in the DOM — it essentially traverses the path and ultimately accesses the last bit of it using array notation.

So how do we do it, then? DTM is flexible, right? There must be a way, right?


Yes, there is!

Instead of just accessing a JS object, we use custom script, like so:


Data Element Definition – Working

The custom script that does the actual work looks like this:


Data Element – Custom Code

This is probably the shortest and easiest quick tip in the history of this blog. Short and sweet. I hope it is still useful!


German expat living in Switzerland (formerly UK and France). Consultant and member of the Multi-Solutions Group at Adobe, working with the Digital Marketing Suite. Father of 4 girls.

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Posted in DTM, Javascript
8 comments on “Quick tip: DTM – Data Elements & Arrays
  1. GirlEatWorld says:

    Thank you so much Jan. I had been struggling with this for a few hours before a colleague sent across this post. You posted it today too! just in time 😀


  2. In a similar manner, in the Data Element custom code you could do “return dataLayer.page.pageInfo.breadCrumb” (which returns your array), then call it with “_satellite.getVar(‘Breadcrumb’)[0]”. That way you can easily access any of the array values using just a single Data Element by changing the number in the call. I also use the same method to store objects, then call them with “_satellite.getVar(‘Page Info’)[‘author’] to get values for specific keys. I use this method to store a few arrays and objects I use frequently but which aren’t part of the data layer supplied by the developers; kind of my own DTM supplied data layer.


  3. I was wondering if you have tried to use a Data Element with JS Object type with the following syntax instead:
    It should work too and looks simpler 🙂


    • Jan Exner says:

      Hi Andrey,

      Don’t think that works, though. I’m getting “Uncaught SyntaxError: Unexpected number(…)” in Chrome.

      Pity, it looked nice and easy.



  4. Rik McNicoll says:

    Thanks, Jan – this issue was really starting to frustrate me. Your blog is a great resource.
    Cheers, Rik


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