Tag Management Explained – Part 1
Whether you’re a marketing director working with digital agencies or an account executive at a digital agency, chances are you deal with tags all the time. For clarification, I’m referring to tags (also known as a pixels) as the medium used to facilitate the collection and sharing of data between your website and the various technologies you utilize that rely upon this data (e.g. analytics platforms, marketing vendors). With rapid expansion of the digital marketing and programmatic advertising, the majority if not all marketing vendors use their own tags that must be added to certain sections of your website to allow them to use their technology to track your digital marketing campaigns.
It is not uncommon for many websites to include several third-party tags. Of course, when a marketing vendor asks you to add their tag to your website, they only worry about their own tag or tags, and are completely unaware of any other tags that may already be present. However, the more tags are added to a website, the more potential challenges you may encounter due to conflicts, implementation issues, slow performance from loading all tags and a number of other issues.
This is where Tag Management Solutions (TMS) come in handy by making the management of tags much more simplified for both advertisers and end users.
Although tags are invisible to website visitors -sometimes it’s just a minute 1×1 transparent pixel embedded to the web page and delivered to your web browser when the page loads- their functionality is quite large.
Depending on the type of tag, you can expect them to do the following as your website visitor navigates your web pages:
- They Instruct web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, etc.) to collect data
- They set cookies
- They extend audiences between multiple websites
- They Integrate third-party content into a website (e.g. social media widgets, video players, ads, etc.).
- All digital marketing from ad campaigns to basic Google Analytics reports perform based on tags.
As you see above, tags may set cookies, however tags are not cookies and cookies are not tags. This is often confusing even for marketing managers. Cookies are separate strings of code placed on your computer or mobile device for a variety of reasons, most commonly to speed up browsing, remember your preferences or to facilitate your online shopping experience by keeping the contents of your shopping cart.
The main purpose of a tag is to collect data, specifically, user data. Among other information, tags can collect:
- User Context: Implicit information such as the IP address of your mobile phone, the type of web browser you are using or how you were referred to the site (e.g. search, click-through from an ad, etc.)
- User Profile: Anonymous data stored in cookies such as a Profile ID or targeting criteria. It’s important to clarify that tags will not capture or store your personal identifiable information.
- User Behavior: Data including the products, content or ads you viewed, links clicked, time on the page, etc.
Even if you think that your website only has a few tags, you may be surprised to know how many tags you actually have. It is not uncommon for the average enterprise website to include upwards of 50 tags from different sources. From analytics programs to paid search, social media, video, advertising, retargeting, search, etc.
In the next article, we will explore how tags collect data as well as control issues and multiple tag management solutions.
Thank you for reading. Until next time, this is Manuel Gil del Real (MGR)