How to Conduct a Tag Management Audit

How to Conduct a Tag Management Audit

 

Tag management systems dramatically improve the general structure of a tagging implementation, but they are still prone to human error. There are a lot of constantly moving parts to tag management, and the quality of your data can degrade unless you verify everything. A periodic tag management audit can help you ensure everything is in the right place and is functioning as expected. 

Auditing your tagging implementation can be done either manually or through automation and should encompass the verification of:

  • the container tag
  • data layer object
  • individual analytics and vendor tags 

The following will explain each and how to audit them. 

 

1. Verify The Presence of Your Container Tag

Container tags are pieces of code that initiate analytics tags and their related variables and triggers. These container tags correspond between the tag management database and your website to deploy and fire each page’s tags. 

 

Having container tags enables you to manage all tags through your tag management system instead of deploying each individual tag manually. They enable marketing and analytics teams to add, remove, or update tags without requiring web development resources. During your audit, it is important to verify that these container tags are on each site page and firing the correct tags.

 

2. Test Your Data Layer Object 

A data layer is a JavaScript object that collects and distributes your site’s data in a standardized way. All of the data that is generated by visitors engaging with your site is collected in the data layer and is sent to your analytics and marketing technologies that are tracking performance. Thus it is crucial to make sure the data layer is working as expected in order to ensure the accuracy of your analytics. 

The three aspects of the data layer you’ll want to verify are:

  • Object presence
  • Variable presence
  • Data presence

 

3. Test Your Individual Analytics & Other Vendor Tags

After verifying the presence of container tags and the data layer, you’ll need to audit the actual tags and their components. Tags are susceptible to failure due to their tendency to proliferate and require frequent changes. Unintended consequences from site updates can overwrite code or affect trigger events. Duplicate or missing tags will undermine the accuracy of your analytics. 

When conducting a tag audit, look out for the following factors: 

  • Tag presence
    • Not duplicate or missing
    • For simple tags like basic advertising pixels, all you need to test for is tag presence
  • Variable presence
  • Data presence

Tag audits should be done on a regular schedule to ensure accurate data is flowing from your site to your analytics and vendor applications, helping you to make sound decisions. 

 

Manual Approach vs. Automated Approach

To verify and test the presence of your container tag, data layer object, and individual analytics and vendor tags, you can either take a manual or automated approach. 

Manual audits are great for spot-checking implementations or if you have a smaller digital property. For complex sites, the manual method is prohibitively inefficient. We’ll go over the three methods of auditing your tag management system beginning with the most manual method.

 

Developer Tools

You can use the developer tools in your browser to look for the container tag, data layer, and individual tags. For example, you could open your dev tools and scan the Elements for your container tag and check your tag management interface to ensure that the analytics tags are correctly aligned and firing within each container tag. 

To check the data layer, you would go to the Console and type in the data layer name and press enter. This method is limited and would be time-consuming at scale. 

 

Tag Debuggers

Using a browser extension like ObservePoint’s TagDebugger would eliminate some of the visual scanning you need to do in dev tools. TagDebugger is great for testing tags and checking the data layer on individual pages, but it is not ideal for repeatable testing at scale. You can find more information on how to check your data layer or how to check if Google Tag Manager is working with the three methods we’re discussing.  

 

Automated Scanning

The best way to verify your container tag, data layer, and each tag efficiently is to use our complete Technology Governance solution. You can test, monitor, and validate your marketing technologies on a set schedule or ad hoc as necessary. Audits can be set to automatically check if a container tag is in place and if the data layer is working as expected. It can show you a complete tag inventory that includes information such as what page tags are implemented on, what data they are gathering, and how they relate to the other technologies on your site. 

With automation, you can use Technology Governance to scan all of your Martech implementations and therefore increase efficiency and save time and resources. 

Reach out to us for a demo if you’d like to see how ObservePoint can streamline Tag Management audits.

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