Comparing Google Tag Manager to Ensighten

Comparing Google Tag Manager to Ensighten


Google Tag Manager

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?


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.

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 GTM
  • Pure play solution provider.
  • Focused on tag management and related services.
  • One of the market leaders.
  • New addition to Google digital marketing platform.
  • Leveraging name recognition, size and resources.

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.

2. Infrastructure
(Redundancy & availability)

Ensighten GTM
  • Redundant data centres.
  • Reliability and a signed SLA (Service Level Agreement).
  • Taking advantage of the power of Google’s infrastructure.
  • No signed SLA (Service level agreement).

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

Ensighten GTM
  • On demand (hosted externally).
  • One custom container tag.
  • No specifics on a data layer standard provided
  • Explicit definition of dependencies between tags (or custom coding)
  • On demand (hosted externally).
  • One container tag plus a data layer.
  • Event architecture. Events can be fired dynamically to send information to the “data layer”.

The so called “data layer” is a placeholder (normally a JavaScript object) that allows you to collect important data in one centralized location. It can contain data your tags are going to use, or messages for the TMS rules to manage dependencies. It also can be used to adjust for when the HTML of your page change without having to modify the container tag.

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

Ensighten GTM
  • Compatible with almost any tag.
  • Standard out-of-the-box templates available for most common tags.
  • Custom templates.
  • Great support to adjust complex tags.
  • Native support for most popular Google tags and products. Templates.
  • Flexible “HTML tag” option for custom tag creation
  • Does not support A/B Testing type of tags or jQuery, among others (at least not yet).

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

Ensighten GTM
  • Preview mode and versioning available.
  • Only deploy your changes when they are approved and ready.
  • More efficient ways to debug available for developers (you will need them).
  • Documentation available to integrate with popular debugger tools.
  • Simple and usable browser based preview and debug interface.
  • Create versions of tags to be tested or deploy in production.

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

Ensighten GTM
  • Great support and robust documentation.
  • Basic training is normally included.
  • Technical assistance to modify the code and get your tags up and running.
  • Comprehensive documentation and samples
  • Supported by dozens of certified partners around the world.

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

Ensighten GTM
  • Price defined on a client basis by traffic volume and number of domains.
  • Support and training are normally included
  • “Free” of charge, just like Google Analytics.
  • You can get support and training from GTM certified partners.



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.

Big However…

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:
– Google Tag Manager Documentation:
– Ensighten Enterprise Tag Management:


By |2024-03-15T10:03:28-04:00October 1, 2012|11 Comments


  1. Des Cahill 2012-10-02 at 14:06 - Reply

    This is Des Cahill, vp of marketing at Ensighten.
    Really enjoyed your thoughtful blog post on GTM Jose. We also think of Ensighten as the leader in enterprise TMS as well 😉

    Agree that Google’s entry into the market is a good thing, more customer choice and it will expand general awareness of TMS space and of need for true enterprise TMS solutions.

    A few additional points comments re: GTM vs. Ensighten.

    Infrastructure: While Google’s infrastructure/lack of SLA is ok for GA it isn’t ok for GTM. If your web analytics tool goes down, you loose data. If your TMS goes down,
    you lose your data + the functionality of any and all digital marketing tools within the TMS. That could be a major revenue loss for large websites.

    Data leakage potential: TMS’s can see a LOT of data about the site and the site visitors. Ensighten does not collect or store any customer website data. What is Google’s policy on GTM data collection and usage? Today and in the future? Google is in the business of collecting online data and deriving ad value from it.

    Product line: GTM is for websites. But consumers interact with brands across video, mobile apps, rich media – on tablets, kiosks, smartphones. Ensighten supports data collection and tag management on all of these platforms and devices. Both for digital marketing and privacy applications. Our enterprise customers value our product line extensibility.

    Here’s a post I wrote on GTM:

    Thanks _ Des

    • Jose Davila 2012-10-02 at 18:36 - Reply

      Hi Des,

      Thank you for your comments. You made some great points. The entry of Google will certainly change the TMS market.

      1. Regarding the Infrastructure

      You are correct, GTM not having an SLA is a key difference. I mentioned on the post that for many organizations not having an SLA will be a deal breaker, for legal reasons, reliability requirements and based on how critical are the tags running from the TMS. I would not recommend it in such a situation.

      However, for many, the value you are getting out of the tool may be higher than the risks. Also, how much risk are you taking will depend on what are you using your TMS for. What types of tags are you deploying? Mostly analytics and marketing tags? Mostly Google tags, with similar terms of service to what GTM offers?

      Most analytics and marketing tags are considered non-critical and are designed to “fail nicely”. If your analytics or remarketing tag fail, you don’t want your website to break, isn’t it? I wouldn’t. I would prefer to get the sale or the lead even if the tags break.

      There is also the fact that Google Tag Manager just launched. I would not be surprised if Google turns it into a solution as solid as any other one in the market, just without the “enterprise” label.
      Then, what if Google decides to release a “Premium” version and offer a SLA one day? It may never happen. They did it for GA though.

      Then you have the fact that in many cases what organizations seek with the SLA and the Enterprise label is more the “legal peace of mind”.

      What I mean by this is that the picture is not black and white, but it has many shades of gray. You have to choose the solution that best fits your needs, requirements, risk tolerance, budget and many other factors that would be relevant.

      2. Regarding data collection policies

      Thank you for pointing this out. You certainly don’t want your TMS vendor to collect more data than the strictly necessary to ensure the service is working properly.

      I went to check GTM’s terms of use, and here is what I found:

      “We may collect information such as how the Service is used, and how and what tags are deployed. We may use this data to improve, maintain, protect and develop the Service as described in our privacy policy…”

      This sounds like the information being collected is mostly regarding the service itself and how tags are being deployed. They even mention the following:

      “we will not share this data with any other Google product without Your consent”.

      It looks like pretty standard terms, and they seem to be getting the type of information you would expect any TMS service provider to collect, including Ensighten.

      If you are looking at privacy issues, such as leakage of private information to third parties because PII was included as part of a URL or an external request, that’s another story.(

      No Tag Management tool can help you with that. In that case You will need to assess your website, fix the wholes and probably change your tags.

      3. About integration beyond the website

      This is certainly another advantage of Ensighten, thank you for mentioning it. While I would expect there would be ways to integrate GTM with rich media and mobile apps, for sure doing it will not be trivial (and for sure some will try). Once again, Ensighten has been longer in the market to be able to offer these types of solutions.

      Once again, thank you for your comments! I always enjoy a good discussion.


    • Jordan 2012-11-23 at 01:51 - Reply

      Couldn’t agree more here regarding the revamol of boundaries for analysts, but would most definitely add that an Enterprise Tag Management tool should create a centralized platform for Analysts, Marketers and IT alike to collaborate and create a far greater and evolved digital marketing infrastructure. Tag Management is yet to be truly defined, we see many flavors of the container tag’ approach in the market which does not address the true promise of Tag Management. It’s all about creating simplicity around a very technical problem, and the problem we are solving for is the divide between the digital marketing tools and the people who want to implement, manage, optimize and evolve them. We at Tealium are excited at all of the attention that Tag Management is getting and welcome so many new providers!

  2. Amin Shawki 2012-10-03 at 12:58 - Reply

    Great article about Google Tag Manager, compared to Ensighten. We understand the necessity of tag management and we’re excited for this new digital marketing tool as well, if nothing else to build awareness to other marketers the benefits of tag management systems.

    The problem we noticed is the hassle it can be spending a lot of time searching for those tags in your website’s code, especially as a marketer. However, InfoTrust LLC, one of GTM’s Specialist companies, created a tool that finds tags in your website’s code and generates a report of all tag locations for you. www . TagInspector . com will save so much time automatically pulling tag locations for you and sending you a report, definitely worth a look. Even if you’re using an enterprise level TMS like Ensighten, this tool can come in handy when searching for tags. Keep in mind, it’s in beta so has limited tag compatibility but sounds like there are more tags coming!

  3. Roger Willis 2014-02-20 at 08:20 - Reply

    A year and a half later, now that both TMS’ have matured, what would this comparison now look like?


    • June Li 2014-02-25 at 09:56 - Reply

      After a year many things have certainly changed. Going from usability, to advanced template features and mobile tagging support, the gap between the tools has diminished. You can now run more types of tags in GTM. However, some A/B Testing tools and scenarios are still not handled well with GTM.

      Another change is access to a SLA (service level agreement). You get one with Ensighten but not with GTM (which isn’t surprising with a “free” tool such as GTM). However, if you are Google Analytics Premium client using GTM, you will have an SLA for GTM.

      An interesting overall trend also is that tag management is being used as a container for deploying more than just tracking codes.

      If you’re looking at tag management systems, we hope you’ll find this blog post useful as a starting point for requirements gathering, and that it will help you think of questions to ask vendors so that your specific needs are defined. Ultimately, it’s your specific needs that will determine which tool is right for you.

      Although GTM is free, there is an investment needed in time to learn and implement.

  4. azbz 2014-10-14 at 09:42 - Reply

    Couldn’t find anywhere more specific instructions on how the actual integration of ensighten into one’s service looks like.
    Does someone know a paper or blog post on the subject?

    • José Davila 2014-10-23 at 08:39 - Reply

      The integration of Ensighten into your website is pretty simple. It is just one single line of code that is included in the section of your page, the higher the better. This is important to take full advantage of the ability that Ensighten has to run tags synchronously.

      I believe there is no specific documentation that is publicly available as Ensighten provides that information directly to clients.

      I noticed however they have posted some reference material on Slideshare on a YouTube Channel as well as a blog

      Also their support is normally pretty friendly and helpful. Can try to reach out to them if you need any additional information.

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