How To Protect Your Site in the Era of Tag Bloat

We announced last week our exclusive partnership with Digital Fulcrum which now allows any tag to run through our tag management system asynchronously. Adam Figuiera discusses in this guest blog post the issues of 3rd party tags and what to consider.

Guest post by Adam Figuiera, Product Marketing Manager, Monetate 

Adam Figueira

The web is awash in tags. From analytics to ad serving, website testing to channel optimization, marketers use an ever-increasing number of third-party solutions for improving and measuring the customer’s website experience–and to make the process for doing so easier.
But can too much of a good thing actually be bad? Indeed it can, and one might accurately term the last five years as the Era of Tag Bloat. However, the marketer’s challenges extend beyond just the number of tags necessary for running a modern website.

Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, website JavaScript tags can have split personalities–enhancing a marketer’s knowledge and the visitor’s experience when everything performs properly, but showing their evil side when things don’t go as planned.

Among a marketer’s specific concerns:

  • Does each tag load synchronously or asynchronously?
  • Where should I place each tag on the page?
  • Do I need to fire every tag on every page–every time?
  • What happens if the tag is slow to load, or doesn’t load at all?
  • Collectively, will the presence of all these tags slow my site down?

But the marketer wears a second hat. When Mr. Hyde rears his ugly head, the importance of an adequate risk management plan comes into play. Questions the marketer must ask include:

  1. By adding this tag to my website, what problems could occur?
  2. How likely is it that any of these problems will manifest?
  3. What steps can I take to reduce this likelihood?
  4. If the problem still occurs, what will be the impact on my business?
  5. What actions can I take to reduce this impact?
  6. What is the trigger event(s) for taking these actions?

Fortunately, increasing numbers of solutions bring logic, agility, and answers to many of these same questions and concerns.

Several weeks ago, I published 3 Ways Your Testing Solution Should Protect You. One such factor is the ability to safely place the testing solution’s tag in your page header, with “safety” referring to:

  • Loading only the campaign’s Test content, not both the Test and Control, and
  • Executing via an asynchronous call.

The advantages? Start with faster page load times. When JavaScript tags need to fire sequentially, load times will be heavily influenced by the size of the overall queue. By contrast, asynchronous JavaScript is multi-threaded, allowing several tags to fire concurrently–with no impact on another tag in the extremely unlikely event of one tag’s failure.

Demand strict monitoring controls and the ability to automatically kill tags that do not finish processing within defined time frames. The presence of such “fail-safes” is essential to eliminating the effects of latency on the website experience and the negative effect it can have on visitors.

Above all, ask questions: From the vendors themselves to the web analysts who measure customer interactions and the engineers whose job it is to keep the lights on.

Adam Figueira is the Product Marketing Manager at Monetate. A technology enthusiast with more than eight years of professional experience in paid and organic search optimization, Adam builds strategies for marketing and communicating technologies to make them more accessible to their end users.

Learn more about optimizing page-load times by downloading TagMan’s latest white paper, “Smart Loading Tags to Accelerate Your Website’s Performance.”

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