Mar 2013

Tag Management is the latest buzz word in the world of Analytics and every client we work with is considering the pros and cons of going pro with tag management in 2013. Part of the buzz around it is Google’s recent launch of it’s free offering – “Google Tag Manager”. So, in this article we’ll cover a couple of important elements of Tag Management.

  1. What are Tag Management Solutions?
  2. What are the advantages of Tag Management?
  3. What are the popular Tag Management Systems?

So, let’s get right to it!

1. What are Tag Management Solutions/Systems?

Digital Marketing relies quite heavily on tracking, improving and optimizing. And the most prevalent way of tracking digital is through JavaScript tags. So, your Web Analytics requires a JavaScript tag. Your PPC Platform requires another JavaScript tag. Your Ad Serving Platforms require another JavaScript tag. Your testing and optimization needs another one. And along with those tags, there are additional customizations (like feeding customer data, custom events data, ecommerce data, currency exchange etc).

A few years into digital marketing – we find that our site is littered with tags. They all work on similar technologies – but they’re provided by different vendors. They handle slightly different things. They were all requested by different people in the team. And the IT team has a whole big process every time a change needs to be made.  Tag Management Solutions allow you, the marketer, to take charge of that portion of your website.

This is not a new concept. About 15 years ago, Analytics moved from the IT department to the Marketing department. We had wonderful Analytics platforms like Google Analytics and Omniture SiteCatalyst grew up. About 10 years ago, Email moved from the IT department to the Marketing department. Platforms as far and wide as MailChimp, Aweber, Constant Contact and many more grew up. About 5 years ago CMSs, Web Forms and Social Media moved out from the IT teams to Marketing. Suddenly content generation, lead generation were all put in the hands of Marketing.

Of course, not all companies are mature enough to do this. Many small companies end up putting all of this under the tag of “IT”. But the smartest marketers today are taking many pieces of marketing-related technology out of IT’s hands and into their own. This is a big move in this regard – for marketers to get more data driven, it’s important that marketing tracking technology be done by marketers. Rather than be subject to typical IT processes.

There’s an excellent article by SEOmoz on the basics of Tag Management here. And in the past, large companies already used simple Tag Containers like Doubleclick’s Floodlight tag (owned by Google) or the Atlas Universal Action Tag (recently sold by Microsoft to Facebook).

2. What are the benefits of Tag Management?

One Place to Manage All Tags – The current process of tag management relies on someone keeping an Excel of where various tags were placed. Or worse, a thread of emails that need to be traced back. With Tag Management Systems, all the past changes and current tags are stored in an easy-to-view place.

Speed up your site – Too many JavaScript tags slow down the page. Most TMS’s do a great job of loading tags asynchronously and letting users load the actual page faster. Vendors advertise a 20-50% increase in load times after adoption of these systems.

Reduce reliance on IT – By taking the administration and management into a new system that doesn’t need a very technical person, marketing teams will avoid involving IT unnecessarily. In my experience, most IT teams have too many processes for simple tags, and this is a huge headache that gets avoided with TMS’s

Launch new tags quickly – Thanks for the container code already being present on the site, launching new tags can happen in seconds. With typical IT processes – new tags can take days to months depending on the current condition of code. This way, when your campaign goes live – the conversion codes for the campaign can follow exactly at the same time – not 3 months later.

3. What are the popular Tag Management Systems?

This is actually a very fast growing field with many interesting players. Here’re some quick thoughts on major players

  • Google Tag Manager – FREE! (yay). Ready to use today (yay). A little bit half-baked though in features.
  • Adobe Tag Manager – FREE & works very well with Adobe Products. But you need SiteCatalyst to get it.
  • IBM Digital Data Exchange – Free with Coremetrics. But not much public information, will need POC.
  • Tealium – Independent, powerful. Rated by Forrester as #1 independent solution.
  • UberTags – Great UI, recently acquired by [x+1] – a marketing technology firm.
  • OpenTag – Very very cheap (free for 1 million pageviews). Other products for targeted messaging later.
  • TagMan – Possibly the widest range of tags supported. Kinda oldish UI and graphic sense though.
  • Satellite – Geared more towards Analytics. Has great integration with Google Analytics.
  • Ensighten – Big list of clients. But probably better for Adobe or Microsoft Ecosystems (not Google heavy companies).
  • BrightTag – Well funded, recently acquired other players. And they have a great Tag 101 guide. And have a tagless solution.

Hope that was a quick introduction to Tag Management. Have you investigated tag management? Do you have questions about certain tags or requirements? Sound out in the comments below and we’ll do a follow up post with more details.

Rachit Dayal

Is the Managing Partner at Happy Marketer, and handles clients with needs in Web Analytics, Search Engine Optimization, Google AdWords, Website Design and Conversion Consulting.

As Singapore’s first Qualified AdWords Professional and one of the first Analytics Qualified Professionals in the region, Rachit has been on the forefront of search marketing in Singapore since 2004.

But as this industry comes into maturity, he believes now is when the fun is starting – when clients dare to dream of exciting campaigns, and we can finally show tangible positive ROI from all marketing campaigns.