The Evolution of Tag Management

Evolution of Tag Management Illustration

Evolution of Tag Management

As JavaScript tags for tracking a website’s campaigns become increasingly complex, every marketer longs for the holy grail of tag management to solve their problems and give them freedom and control.

And while Tag Management Systems (TMS) are emerging as the leading solution in the space now, they weren’t the first.

Let’s take a closer look at the tag management solutions that emerged over time–from pixel piggy backing to a container tag to the universal tag, and finally to TMS.

Pixel Piggy Backing
Pixel piggy backing involves customizing a third-party image tag or code — for each page of your site — that sets cookies in a user’s browser to track their behavior.

While this method has been known to provide real-time data for publishers and advertisers, its customizations can be just as complex — if not more complex — than implementing JavaScript tags. Page-load time also increases, as the pixels are often placed on the bottom of the page.

Container Tag
Likewise, a container tag also sometimes further complicates site tag implementation. Since its third-party code loads an in iFrame (also often at the bottom of the page) there’s an increase in page-load time, turning away site visitors and affecting ranking in Google and other search engines. Most important, container tags only work with about 50% of vendor tags. And they won’t play very well with your web analytics systems.

Universal Tag
Given its name, the universal tag has been heralded as the great hope of tag management.  What you get with this tag is one single code–that directly loads scripts into the page–to capture data from all other data sources. It’s essentially one code format that many vendors have to agree to so that all data can flow through the one source. Sure, this solution can save time and cost, but it can result in being locked in with one vendor (often a web analytics vendor).

Tag Management Systems
Tag Management Systems (TMS) take the concepts of the universal tag and the container tag one step further. Acting like a content management system for all site-wide tags, TMS enables placing all tags–including container and universal tags–into one system. The application deploys just one snippet of code on each page to manage them all, and instead of serving all tags on all pages at all times TMS only serves tags as needed. Furthermore, advertisers and agencies can manage all third-party data collection services in one place, ultimately reducing the need for IT as a resource, improving quality control, and expediting the go-live time for new and updated tags and campaigns.

We’re living in a data-driven age, where marketers need to prove ROI. They’re reliant on tracking systems that end up littering websites with pixels, tags, and widgets. Because of this, the need for a tag management solution is becoming more critical. Investing in a solution now will eventually save you time and money.

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