Advantages of using a Tag Manager in Paid Search

By — 10.15.15

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Tag managers may not be the newest and shiniest tool in digital marketing, but their advantages and value to paid search management are vast. Tag managers greatly streamline the usually arduous task of maintaining various code snippets which track conversions, or other actions, occurring on websites. Some well-known tag management solution providers include Adobe, Ensighten, Tealium, Signal, and Google Tag Manager.

With the landscape of paid search constantly evolving, we recommend utilizing tag managers as they have proven to be a useful tool for advertisers.  Let’s outline how a tag manager functions, the advantages and disadvantages of using them and their significance to paid search management going forward.

What is a Tag Manager?

Let’s start with what a tag is. A tag is simply a piece of JavaScript code which performs a given task on your site. Because Adlucent is an agency, a lot of the code we deal with every day is used to serve advertising in some form.  The concept of a tag manager is a fairly simple one. It is a container tag that enables advertisers to house all of their own tags in one block of code. The alternative is having to place tags (whether they be remarketing tags or conversion tracking, etc.) individually, multiple times in the source code. It enables retailers to consolidate all of these snippets of code and implement them in a single code block. Here is an example of the code used within Google Tag Manager:

Google Tag Manager

“GTM-XXXX” is the placeholder for the customized ID retailers create for their containers.

Advantages of Using a Tag Manager

There are many advantages to using a tag manager, but let’s look at those that impact our day to day the most.

  1. Ease of tag implementation for Retailers

Tag managers are designed to be extremely user friendly, helping to minimize—or ideally eliminate—the need for web developers to make code changes and implement new features.

Since tag managers are built to simplify the task of managing code, they greatly increase efficiency when it comes to implementation. Adobe Dynamic Tag Management cites that clients reduce the amount of time they spend on tag management by 95% after implementing their product. Adlucent has found value in this ease of use, as we are able to quickly implement code changes on a client’s behalf rather than waiting for it to be prioritized in a Retailer’s development queue. This has often saved months of time, and the ability for us to do so brings us to the second advantage of tag managers – customizable levels of access.

  1. Multiple levels of authorization

Most tag managers allow for multiple levels of authorization. Third parties can be given access to specific containers, or sites, if a Retailer has multiple domains. This enables Retailers to determine the level of control given to other parties, or even within their own departments and company. This allows teams to be autonomous and make relevant changes without the considerable back and forth explaining their proposed edits to the IT Team. Adlucent has found considerable value in this feature as we are able to quickly pinpoint and address tagging issues on a client’s behalf.

  1. Rules for tags within tag managers are customizable

Retailers need the ability to track different actions through their tags. This can be accomplished through the use of “triggers” and “variables.” A trigger is a true or false condition that executes depending on whether a pre-specified value matches the value attributed to another variable. A common use case is using a page view as a trigger with the variable defined as the URL containing “checkout” to record when a conversion occurs. Rules created by sets of triggers and variables can be as simple as a homepage visit, to tracking complex remarketing actions.  Some tag manages, such as Ensighten’s solution, come with hundreds of tagging templates to help streamline this process.

Disadvantages of using a Tag Manager

There is one main disadvantage to using a tag manager. If all tags are stored in one body of code and that code block throws an error, all tracking can go dark.

We experienced this loss of tracking recently when a client made a change within their tag manager, negatively impacting all of the tagging on their site. The upside, however, is that with the ability to grant permission to third parties, they were able to grant us access to their tag manager allowing our own developers to isolate the faulty code. We were able to resolve the issue quickly enabling the client to work on the code without affecting any tracking or reporting.

A perceived disadvantage of the Google Tag Manager (GTM) in particular is the fear that Google will collect personally identifiable information or other data that Retailers would not want to pass to the search engine. However, GTM is a cookie-less domain and does not access any data collected by tags. Any data that Google would want to access requires consent from the user.

Why is using tag managers more important now than ever?

One word: Mobile.

The way people interact with ads is constantly evolving, and smartphones and mobile apps are now an integral part of the paid search industry. We know that mobile searches have surpassed desktop, mobile interactions are consistently on the rise (read Taking off in the Mobile Advertising Marathon), mobile apps are continuing to influence consumers’ decisions to buy, as well as being intimately tied to search ads. Fortunately for retailers, tag managers are rapidly adapting for use on mobile sites and apps as well.

Save Time & Gain Peace of Mind

Given a tag manager’s ease of use, and the fact that it is easily adaptable to mobile, makes this tool indispensable for the ongoing management of paid search. Retailers and agencies alike will find value in its implementation. A tag manager is truly one of those tools that has proven itself over time.


2 Responses

  1. Anuj says:

    Is is so that for GTM to work effectively, we need to have a Google Analytics tag separately to track paid search data.
    Or only a GTM code is sufficient to do that?

    Reply please,
    Anuj

  2. Holly Pauzer says:

    Hello Anuj,

    Great question! The GTM code itself does not track paid search data. It merely acts as a container for all snippets of code that are used to capture data (such as Google Analytics conversion tracking) so that Retailers can easily copy and paste tracking code on all webpages where they would need to record an interaction with their site. In order to effectively capture data, snippets of code need to be placed inside the GTM. The code that is placed within the GTM is what actually captures the data.

    Thanks!

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