You heard well. Google has just released a Tag Management container tag solution – Google Tag Manger (GTM):
- It is openly accessible just as Google Analytics (GA) is (I prefer to avoid the word “free”, I don’t think GA or GTM are free if you really want to make good use of them).
- It can make your wildest tag management dreams come true (depending on what exactly you dream about, of course).
- It is a very comparable solution to Ensighten in many key areas.
- However, depending on what you need, it may just be not enough.
Sounds Interesting? Do you want to know if GTM is a good fit for your organization?
FIRST THINGS FIRST
If you are seriously considering Tag Management, I assume you have done a bit of homework already. If you don’t know what a Tag Management System (TMS) is, you can start here. You may also want to look at the Forrester report “Understanding Tag Management” or read the different opinions about TMS technologies from experienced practitioners and consultants: here and here.
I picked Ensighten for this comparison because it is a tool I have worked with in the past. It is also one of the most balanced alternatives in the market. In fact, a while back, I ended up selecting it over a few of the other alternatives available. Why? Mainly because it was the most solid overall and the best fit for that particular organization.
I know what you are thinking, every organization is different and there are many other great tools. I totally agree. However, Ensighten stills seem to me like a good measuring stick.
DISCLAIMER / WARNING: This is NOT a definitive comparison or a complete benchmark. It is more like an exercise to look at some of the key aspects of GTM that caught my attention, and try to put them in context. Please feel free to comment if you think something is missing.
1. Type of Vendor
(Pure play vs. Google)
Ensighten is a solid provider and a market leader. An as good as it gets solution in the current market.
That being said, the industry is very young. Most pure play Tag Management vendors are targets for acquisition. If you are planning to make an investment in the long term, you need to choose carefully.
On this light, Google Tag Manager sounds like a pretty good solution, if you are looking for the reliability of an established company, and perhaps on avoiding the potential market consolidation chaos.
In any event, properly documenting and planning your tags would be extremely important. You can even try to make your tags as platform agnostic as possible, just in case you decide to migrate from one tool to another in the future. I am not saying it would be easy. However TMS tools are not that simple either.
(Redundancy & availability)
Reliability and having redundant data centres is actually one the reasons why I decided to work with Ensighten in the past.
I would be surprised if GTM is not taking advantage of the power of Google’s infrastructure.
On the paper GTM not offering a custom SLA could be a deal breaker for many organizations. However this has not been a factor impeding the wide adoption of Google Analytics.
Is your company using Google Analytics?
It shouldn’t be a factor to limit mass adoption, even by many large organizations.
3. Deployment Method
While the standard implementation of Ensighten didn’t require a data layer, it is a best practice widely used by implementation consultants. You can make it as complex as you need to.
The interesting thing about GTM: the data layer is part of the framework. It is standard. It even incorporates the concept of “events”. An event can be associated to almost any behavior on the site allowing additional conditions and pieces of information to be sent to the data layer. A very flexible and powerful architecture.
This gives you some structure and can save time when maintaining, updating or extending an implementation you, or your developer, are not so familiar with.
4. Tag Compatibility
This is perhaps one of the main differences. Here Ensighten has certainly the upper hand, as it has been longer in the market, while GTM was just launched.
Almost any type of tag can be deployed on Ensighten. I have not found one tag yet that cannot be handled by one of their custom templates or can be customized to fit (I had to say that many of the tags I wanted to use had to be tuned).
A word of caution. If your environment is complex, don’t expect the transition to a TMS to be as easy as the vendor told you. Be ready to customize your tags and retag your analytics to fit. An adequate migration and ongoing tagging plan are fundamental.
5. Previewing & Debugging
Both tools offer pretty good previewing, debugging and versioning capabilities. In both cases you may also need to work with web debugging tools and plugins.
However I should say that I personally liked the simplicity of GTM’s preview and debug interface. Debugging is very straightforward with Google Tag Manger debug console. The ability to share a testing link is a great option to have, as deploying your tags would most likely involve some type of multiple party approval process. This functionality can fit as part of your website development and management lifecycle.
6. Support & Documentation
I have to say that dealing with Ensighten technical support was a pleasant surprise. They were very responsive and went the extra mile to make sure the tags and templates worked properly. I certainly think this approach has been one of the factors behind their current success.
While Google Tag Manager can be used “for free”, that doesn’t mean you are left on your own. There is a network of certified partners that can assist you with your implementation, transition and training, and help organizations get things done with tag management. ClickInsight is proud to be one of them.
7. Price Model
IS GOOGLE TAG MANAGER A GOOD FIT?
Maybe it is not for you…
Maybe you work for an organization heavily regulated or where security and data ownership is a big concern. If that’s the case, perhaps you are still working to get the approval for GA tags deployed several years ago in some of your microsites. If that’s your situation, I am afraid to tell you, GTM is perhaps not for you.
Let’s say you need a strong signed and customized SLA. Perhaps you want to make your TMS (Tag Management System) an integral part of your website’s core platform. For deploying all sorts of critical tags and pieces of your site externally, you need to be completely sure of the level of service and availability you get. And you have the budget. And you certainly don’t want “free tools”. Then you have many alternatives in the market, one of them being Ensighten.
Perhaps the scripts and tags you need to deploy on the TMS are highly complex and jQuery intensive. Or perhaps you need to deploy A/B Testing or similar tools right now using tag management. At least for now, you should look for a different tool instead of Google Tag Manager.
However not all environments have that level of complexity. Not even in many large organizations. The same way, not all projects require the same level of sophistication. It is also not always feasible to switch all your tags to a TMS at once.
In those cases, GTM can be a pretty good alternative to consider. Even more if you want your TMS solution mainly to contain Google Analytics, Adwords and a few other third party tags on your site.
Perhaps you don’t have the budget or buy-in required to go for other TMS alternatives in the market. In that case using GTM can turn your dreamed project into reality. GTM can certainly lower the access barrier to TMS technology the same way GA did for web analytics tools.
Maybe you want to start testing Tag Management for a low risk project. Maybe on that microsite that has GA already installed.
In any of those cases, Google Tag Management is perhaps just the right solution at the right price. It can also be a great alternative for managing your analytics tags, marketing and other tags that, while important, are not critical to the point of breaking your site’s experience, if your tag management service experience any type of issues (the Amazon cloud and big hosting providers have gone down or have been the target of attacks in the past).
It can also be the platform for many other projects, tests or proofs of concept that would have required otherwise a much more time consuming and expensive development investment. The beauty of this type of tools is they can be used for much more than just deploying your current basic tags. Believe me, once you have it in place, it is very likely you will find other uses for it.
Yes, a Tag Management tool such as GTM or Ensighten can make the process of maintaining, removing and deploying new tags much more efficient. However you still need a process. You will never get the value this technology can provide without one.
The good news is that using a TMS will force you to tune up your process. Just don’t expect the endeavour to be as simple as many vendors normally claim.
We certainly welcome your comments. If you want to add to the conversation, if you have questions or if you feel there is something missing, please leave us a note.
If you want to explore further using GTM, Ensighten or any other Tag Management solution in your organization, or if you have questions, please feel free to contact us.
For More Information:
- Google Tag Manager Announcement:http://analytics.blogspot.ca/2012/10/google-tag-manager.html
- Google Tag Manager Documentation: http://support.google.com/tagmanager/
- Ensighten Enterprise Tag Management: http://www.ensighten.com/