What to Consider When Choosing a Tag Management System

October 09, 2014

In recent weeks, MarketingLand has been running an excellent four-part series on tag management, and why it’s crucial to getting a handle on your customer data and site performance. Here are the links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 — they are all worth a read if you’re exploring tag management.

I especially recommend “8 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Tag Management System,” the fourth entry in the series, by Signal’s own Director of Product Marketing Josh Dreller. Here Josh explains why it’s important for a solution to be ecosystem-neutral:

A TMS can put your company in the position to instantly switch out marketing technologies. Choosing a TMS that is ecosystem-neutral – whose technology is compatible with any other technology vendor — will give you the flexibility to change technology solutions whenever you choose. Neutrality enables you quickly take one vendor’s tags off your site and add another vendor’s on.

Not all TMSes are ecosystem-neutral, however. Through acquisitions and mergers, some of the biggest marketing technology companies have added a TMS to their ‘stack’ of proprietary software offerings. If you choose to partner with a TMS that has ties to a larger ‘stack,’ you should evaluate the impact it might have on your ability to integrate the marketing technologies in your own stack.

When you’re picking a tag management solution, you need to carefully weigh the differences between different vendors. And one of the primary considerations should be the experience of your users.

In part three of the series, digital marketing veteran Domenico Tassone explains the user experience and analytics advantages of server-side technology, a key feature of Signal’s tag management solution:

Server-side technology reduces direct user touching by third-party tags (and their web servers) to just the first time that a specific user is “seen” by the TMS, i.e., it virtually eliminates all browser-based calls after the initial access point. In other words, all subsequent pages or event tracking is realized by making the tags fire “in the cloud.”

Another powerful capability enabled by a server-to-server approach is linking web-browser-based data to email systems – particularly for offline measurement and targeting.

The problem with typical current set-ups occurs when many email recipients read their messages on clients that do not share cookies with the device’s web browser. Moreover, many of the commonly-used third-party tags leverage JavaScript, which does not work in most email clients. That rules out JavaScript tag management systems that don’t store data in the cloud.

By adopting the server-side approach, marketers can marry the anonymous user-level web browser cookie data to individualized user emails and make a precious link.

Tag management systems can make a marketer’s life much, much easier, while providing expansive, reliable data in real time. A good tag manager lets you spend less time wrangling code — so you can get back to innovating.

Learn how Signal helped MediaCom put an end to their tag chaos.

Laurel Wamsley

Laurel Wamsley was the Marketing and Communications Manager at Signal, and the editor of Signal's blogs. She worked previously at the University of Chicago, Rackspace, and NPR.