Dustin DeTorres By Dustin DeTorres • December 26, 2012

What is tag management?

Over the past few months I've been hearing this "buzz" about something called tag management. Being a marketer and working around analytics software for years now I was surprised to not know what tag management actually was.

The search for the true definition and how I could actually benefit from using tag management came harder than expected as I quickly realized my level of java script and other coding strategies wasn't at the level of people describing what tag management actually was.

In this short post, I'll explain to you what tag management is... in layman's terms... and why you should potentially start using it.


Tag Management Basics

There are two types of tags: (1) image pixel tag (2) container tags

An image pixel tag is defined as the smallest controllable element on the screen. In this pixel, you're able to insert code from affiliates, ad serving companies, re-marketing 3rd parties and web analytics. These pixels are essentially"activated" when people visit your site and send data back to your server.

A container tag is commonly referred to as the universal container tag or "UCT". This container tag contains information for all of the tags you would embed on your site. Instead of having 30 different pixel tags on your site, you would simply insert one, UCT to manage all of the tags instead. The UCT will fire only the relevant tags that make sense for the particular function that's needed.

Using a UCT = better performance.


Should I start using tag management?

2013 will be a big year for this tool. Heck, Google just started offering it as a free service so you know its something to consider. With all the buzz, the big question is, "Do I need to start looking at tag management?" The answer is maybe.

4 reasons why you should consider using tag management:

1: Your project has been slowed down because you've had to wait on new tags to be created.

2: You're unsure if you're collecting data efficiently (or you think the data is wrong)

3: Your site is getting slow due to all of the pixels installed. (you may also want to look into a CDN for your site)

4: You find your web pages littered with dozens of duplicate, outdated and non-functioning tags. (which leads to #2)


Top 5 tag management companies.

There are obviously more than 5 companies offering tag management as a service. However, after doing extensive research online, reading multiple posts from others and considering "thought leadership" as one of my determining factors for a vendor, I've found this following list as the best place to start.

1: Google

2: Ensighten

3: Tealium

4: Tagman

5: Brighttag

For an in-depth understanding of what tag management is, I highly recommend taking a look at SEOmoz's post here. You can also watch the tag management summary video from Google below.


Do you have any success stories from implementing tag management? Know of any other tag management companies to consider? Comment below.