What Is a Tag Management System? [Tag Management 101]

March 23, 2022 Felice Wu

Deploying a tag management system is best practice if you intend to deploy multiple analytics, advertising and other marketing tags on your site.

But what exactly is a tag management system? Let’s start by talking about what a tag is.


What is a tag?

A web tag is a short piece of code, a transparent pixel, or an image that is placed in the code of a web page. When a visitor loads that web page, or when another pre-defined event happens, the tag calls on a third-party application to perform a marketing, content, tracking, or data collection task. Large companies can run dozens or hundreds of tags throughout their website.

Digital marketers often describe what tags do as enabling third-party tracking, analytics, reporting, remarketing, conversion tracking, optimization, and on-page functionalities like live chat.


What Is Tag Management?

Tag Management is the process of maintaining the marketing tags that are on your digital property. It encompasses adding, removing, editing, and monitoring your tags.


What Is a Tag Management System?

A Tag Management System (TMS) is a software application usually provided by a third-party vendor that helps you streamline the management of your tags from multiple technologies. It serves as a foundation for your digital marketing and data collection needs. It also integrates with Consent Management Platforms to fire the tags that visitors give consent to receive. Tag Management Systems came about as MarTech exploded, and marketing and data analytics teams needed to streamline their processes.


What Are the Benefits of a Tag Management System?

The benefits of a Tag Management System include:

  1. Order and simplicity - Manage a multitude of tags across various channels.
  2. Agility - Quickly test and maintain tags, optimizing results without the need for IT intervention.
  3. Speedier performance - Shave page load times with asynchronous deployment and by eliminating outdated tags.
  4. Uniformity - The TMS data layer creates a system of classification to your data so all of your technologies refer to the same information.
  5. Privacy integration - Consent Management Platforms rely on the TMS to classify and deploy tags according to user preferences.


What Are Some of the Limitations of a Tag Management System?

While TMS’s bring order to tagging chaos, improve site performance, and keep data consistent, there are some limitations to watch out for. 

If you have multiple team members working in the TMS, you’ll have to keep an eye out for human errors such as duplicate, missing, or incorrect tags. And like any technology implementation, simple entropy can corrupt JavaScript code, weird information can make their way into variables or values, or debris from past campaigns can be forgotten somewhere.

Websites change frequently and any time an update is pushed live, there’s a possibility that new functionality breaks old tagging logic. 

Tag Management Systems can’t see any tags that you haven’t told it to manage. For example, tags that are hardcoded onto your site or ones that are piggybacking off another tag won’t be under the TMS’s control. These become issues when you are trying to classify your tags and cookies for privacy compliance since Consent Management Platforms only talk to your TMS.

As with any third-party technology, a digital governance solution is necessary to make sure the Tag Management System you rely on is continuing to function properly and providing trustworthy data and ROI.

ObserverPoint’s suite of automated digital governance features can ensure your TMS is firing on all cylinders, alert you of errors, and show you the relationship of tags and the technologies that are collecting data from them. Request a demo of Technology Governance or sign up for a free trial to take a look at the platform yourself.


Tag Governance Takes Tag Management to the Next Level

Though a TMS is crucial to maintaining a well-executed digital ecosystem, it only provides maximum benefit when you can guarantee your digital analytics efficiency and performance.

A tag governance platform ensures that all of the tags within your TMS are performing correctly, so that you are collecting completely relevant, accurate, and actionable data, eliminating duplicate tags, optimizing page load time, and protecting against data leakage.

About the Author

Felice Wu

Felice is on the marketing team at ObservePoint and specializes in content creation. She has twenty years of digital marketing experience in the tech, travel, and gaming industries. She enjoys learning about new technologies and products from engineers and experts in order to share it with customers and end users.

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