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Tag Managers – EnterJS 2016 slides

Here is an iframe of my talk. What I like about it is that normally, you should be able to go on the little cog, click on it and access my speaker notes. Speaker notes will give a little context and some pertinent links to all the pretty pictures.

Tag Managers: a primer

The reason I chose to give this talk is that I realized that not many developers knew about the existence of tag managers. The EnterJS team thought this was a good idea and this is how I managed to talk about this specific topic for 45 minutes straight.

Tag managers are part of MarTech.

What’s MarTech you ask? It’s a blending of Marketing and Technology. I think the word sounds like something a late night TV commercial would pitch

It’s activities and tools that leverage technology to achieve marketing goals.

The MarTech landscape has grown a lot over the years. I would love to be able to tell you that the landscape looks something like a beautiful, carefully tended Zen garden. Except, it’s not. It looks something like this instead:

Marketing technology landscape 2016

Thank goodness, we are looking at a tiny tiny fraction: tag managers.

Let’s take a step back from the Martech landscape and dive back into something we all have in common. We’ll all be victims or instigators of company meetings. Turns out the most common sentence that gets thrown around is regarding data. “Let’s get some data on that” is the most reviled sentence one gets to hear in meetings.

Why does it matter? Well simple, data is the one thing digital marketers all talk about before fitting in the same breath as many acronyms as they can (CRO, SMO, SEO, PPC, A/B testing and more).

The dark art of tagging

Marketers feel like Brave Heart in their quest to tag all the things!

Sadly, by the time they get to your desk, they often look like Brave Heart trying to demolish a pinata at some kid’s birthday party.
You have tags for conversions, for ads, for google analytics, for every interaction, for ad servers, for third party things everyone forgot about.

Braveheart smashing a pinata
Marketers…by the time they get to your desk with tagging requests.

It can get messy….and create some intense code bloat.

Enter tag managers

Tag managers have been around forever – i.e. about 3 years…

To me it feels like forever since I don’t work without them anymore. They have literally changed the way I think about tagging all the things I want to track in a website. But not everyone sees these tools the same way.

Igor’s take on it: “It’s a giant middle finger to devs”

I tried to describe what a tag manager does to an engineer with whom I worked. This was his take on tag managers. It’s not so far off mind you.

But it truly depends on the organization. Let’s say you are a marketer, allowed 4 deployments a year on a website and you run about 200 campaigns a year (TV, online banners, Adwords, Youtube, email, etc.). You need those tags and can’t deal with your priorities always being descoped in the final deployment list every time. In that case, your use of a tag manager is pretty straightforward. It kind of is a middle finger to the people blocking you from achieving greatness (or something like that).

Let’s say this scenario is not you. Let’s say you want to create a bridge with the business side. Then tag managers are a wonderful opportunity.

Google’s take on it: “It eliminates tedious code-editing tasks for your website”

Google offers a free tag manager to give a web interface to let other people add code snippets for conversion tracking, site analytics, remarketing and more. Their stance is that tagging should be a collaborative effort bridging marketing and dev. This is why they offer a tool themselves: google tag manager or GTM for short.

Here’s an alternate take on it that seems to be reaching a middle ground:

“Tag managers separate the process of adding and updating tracking tags from the process of altering our site’s templates and code.”

A tag manager helps organize and standardize all your tags

The basic Google Analytics code isn’t very complicated. Put it in your template and you’re all set.

Except…that no one really does basic Google Analytics integration. You want to track all the things and that involves adding a lot more code. And there are a lot of things you want to track that are not only Google Analytics related like Adwords or DoubleClick or third-party ad platforms and analytics tools. That’s one of the main reasons why tag managers have been so popular these past few years. It’s also one of the main reasons why Google came out with a free solution that we are going to be looking at.