How tag management systems can address one of the digital marketers’ biggest operational headaches

Who would have thought something as small as tagging Web sites would grow so quickly into one of the biggest headaches digital marketers face today?

April 4, 2013

By Richard Mullins, director at Acceleration

Who would have thought something as small as tagging Web sites would grow so quickly into one of the biggest headaches digital marketers face today? Tag management has emerged as a major operational issue for nearly any company with a large Web presence over the past couple of years.

Tags are a form of Web metadata – non-hierarchical keywords or terms used to classify Web items for easy browsing and searching. Sounds simple enough, but the problem is that most digital marketers are managing tags from the wide range of systems that they use to power their digital marketing properties and campaigns.

One challenge is the multiplication in the number of systems that most marketers have to manage – the sprawling environment has grown to include display, paid search, search engine optimisation, Web analytics, social media, analytics, and more. Often, there is little uniformity in the tag structures across them.

When a simple change needs to be made to a tag in one of these systems, marketers will usually require the help of the IT department to do so. Needless to say, most IT departments feel that they have more pressing matters than the tedious and time-consuming task of removing, adding or editing tags. And marketers find it frustrating when it takes days or weeks to implement tags or have an incorrect tag corrected.

What’s more, as online marketers add more and more tags, these tags start to weigh on their Web pages, increasing file sizes and slowing them down. This can impair the user experience quite dramatically in some instances, to the extent that it may hurt key business metrics such as customer conversions.

These problems are driving growing interest in tag management systems among companies that run many digital campaigns as well as large and complex Web properties. These systems are becoming an important core capability for any marketing department that wants to take charge of its tags.

At the most basic level, tag management systems make it easier for marketing professionals to add, remove or change tags themselves without needing to put the work into the IT department’s work queue. For many organisations, an investment in tag management is justified just by the agility this gives the marketing department and the pressure it takes off the IT organisation.

But more disciplined tag management holds a range of other benefits, too. Tag management systems can help marketers shift tags to be hosted in the cloud so that they don’t drag down the speed users experience when downloading Web pages. Using optimised delivery methods and controlled tag execution per page or site, the page load times can be drastically reduced when a tag management system is in place.

Another benefit of tag management lies in the realm of compliance and preventing data leakages. You can use a tag management solution to centrally manage cookie consent and other data privacy tools across multiple digital entities. You can take control of which data third parties can scrape from your site, adding a layer of protection to your content and customer information. One final but important benefit is that the unified and centralised data standards in the tag management system provide accurate and efficient data across your entire tag ecosystem. This allows you to accurately review campaign performance and make real-time business decisions.

Tag management systems have an increasingly important role to play for many marketing departments. Under pressure to be agile, flexible and autonomous, marketers can no longer afford a laborious process involving multiple departments, resources and days of implementation for changing something like a tag. Automation and centralisation of this function makes enormous sense for most large online brands.