What Is Tag Auditing?

January 12, 2017 Jason Call

Ah yes, tags. The fundamental technical components enabling data collection. They’re the best. And the worst.

On a good day, tags make it possible to collect mountains of data to help us better understand customers, experiment with content and provide better experiences. But that’s on a good day. Too often tags fail, flop, fluke, flip out, you name it.

And when existing tags fail, it can jeopardize data collection and decision-making.

So what do you do? I’ve got two words for you: Tag Auditing.

So What Is a Tag Audit? An Analogy

Consider this analogy:

Think of your website as your company’s physical location, and each tag as an intern monitoring visitors to your business. Your interns watch each visitor, fill out a little form with relevant information about the visitor’s behavior, and then send that data off to the marketing department.

This is analogous to the basic function of a tag: recording and reporting information about visitors, what they view and how they behave.

But think about this: while your tags (interns) watch the visitors, who is watching the tags?

Performance can only be improved on principles of accountability, including with testing of marketing technologies. That’s where auditing comes in.

To extend the above analogy, tag auditing is like someone managing your interns to make sure they show up, do their job, and are properly organized. This ensures your data is complete and correct.

Okay, now let’s step out of the analogy, and explain this one more time.

What Is Tag Auditing?

Tag auditing is a systematic, comprehensive evaluation of the current tag configuration and execution on a website. When a tag audit is performed, the cloud-based software crawls your website and renders the code on every page to test for functionality. More specifically, a tag audit scans for network requests coming from the pages on a site, recognizing requests coming from tags and then recording which tags are where and what data they are collecting.

That’s a tag audit.

Tag auditing solutions allow you to quickly identify missing, duplicate or broken tags so you can quickly repair what is broken.

(Side Note: Tag management and tag auditing are not the same thing. Check out this blog post.)

Are Tag Auditing and Tag Monitoring the Same Thing?

Perhaps you’ve read our post about tag monitoring, or you’ve heard the term elsewhere. Tag auditing and tag monitoring have a lot in common, though there is a nuanced difference. Like tag auditing, tag monitoring is concerned with testing for broken analytics and marketing tags. Both tag auditing and tag monitoring can be considered elements of tag governance.

But tag monitoring takes things a step beyond audits by incorporating something called a journey. A journey is a sequential scan of the most important parts of your site, testing for event-triggered analytics and marketing tags. By combining audits and journeys, analysts, marketers and professional techies can better govern their tags.

“Couldn’t We Just Audit Manually?”

I mean, you could. But here are three problems with manual audits:

  1. They’re manual
  2. They’re manual
  3. Oh yeah, they’re manual

Manual audits take a lot of time and resources, since your website likely has thousands of tags and is frequently updated. Plus they’re prone to human error, and the sheer size of your site makes it impossible to audit everything manually.

Tag auditing platforms are all about automation, saving you time and money.

Here’s an example: By automatically scanning their martech implementations with ObservePoint, a prominent pharmaceutical digital marketing agency turned what used to be a recurring 16-hour vetting process into something that takes only minutes—resulting in as much as an 87.5% increase in employee efficiency. You can read the full case study here.

Consider Tag Auditing

Let me sum it up. If you want to:

  • Trust your data
  • Be more efficient
  • Maximize the value of your technology investments
  • Create a better user experience
  • Protect against data loss

then you should consider tag auditing.

ObservePoint has long since graduated from being solely a tag auditing platform (though this remains an important component). ObservePoint is a tag governance solution that empowers your organization to follow best practices in verifying your tagging implementation matches your tagging strategy. You can schedule a demo of ObservePoint to see how valuable a tag governance solution can be.


About the Author

Jason Call

Jason caught the “digital marketing bug” over ten years ago when his music went viral, and he became the first unsigned artist to reach a million downloads on the internet. Since then, he has devoted his career to mastering analytics and providing actionable insights for hundreds of clients, spanning many industries and verticals.

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