Tag Management Systems and Website Innovation

Tag Management Systems and Website Innovation

Ghostery, a popular browser plugin that allows users to see what tag-based applications are installed in the site being visited just announced that they have topped the 600-page element mark. Other studies show that most of the larger websites have two, three or even 10 Javascript tag-based solutions installed.

Tag-based applications are becoming the selected platform of what Tim O’Reilly coined Web 2.0: “web applications that facilitate participatory information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web” (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0). Companies are reacting to this new reality and learning about the best way to deal with this type of technology.

What is a Tag Management System (TMS)?

A Tag Management System (TMS) is solution that controls the deployment of externally hosted Javascript “page tags”, very similar to what a Content Management System does for content. Probably the most known tag-based application known is Google Analytics, but other apps include simple social media interactions such as the Facebook Like or Tweet This buttons to more complex systems such as the Intense Debate or Disqus comments systems.

Benefits of a Tag Management System

  • Optimal resource allocation: let your IT team focus on their backlogs and marketing departments to guarantee correct implementation.
  • Gold-in-Gold-out (none of the garbage): correct implementations of web analytics allow good and accurate data;
  • Performance: control what tags and how many times they are shown to each user making web pages faster to load;
  • Privacy: avoid showing tags to users with specific privacy controls;
  • Marketing Attribution: drive deeper on how each marketing effort participates in the your site’s conversion funnel;
  • Integration: permit different tools to share data among themselves.

Crossing the Tech Chasm

The biggest benefit of a TMS is the transfer of control of the tag-based applications from IT to Marketing, giving the ‘ownership’ of the site to the most appropriate department. Almost everyone in the Web Analytics industry has a horror story of tagging a website. The main problem is the marketing and IT tug-of-war relationship where the marketers depend on the techies to implement and maintain these systems. Many times, the tag-based systems are implemented at sub-par conditions and hardly get updated, leaving the marketers with huge holes in their data. With a TMS, the marketers can implement and update these system with minimum IT interaction and do this with almost no Javascript technical knowledge.

Of course IT still has responsibilities on the site, and do have to participate in the tag deployment process. But instead of having to learn, implement, and validate the installment process for each tag-based system – they can focus their resources within the TMS workflow for issues such as performance and compatibility.

A better ruler

Many of the tags implemented on websites are “conversion” tags that measure the efficiency of online campaigns (also known as post-click tags). These tags tie in conversion data back to marketing spend to analyze ROI. This is great, but if you are working with various marketing efforts, you are probably crediting some sources more than once and not having a holistic view of the actual return on investment. Use a TMS system to help gauge the participation of each effort in the actual conversion.

Tag Management Systems bring new capabilities for Web Analytics

The real benefit of a TMS to the analytics industry is the capability to dwell in and interact with specific behaviors observed in a web analytics platform. There are various tools that allow websites to really gauge user behavior and reactions. These tools include real-time heatmaps (such as CrazyEgg or PClicks) or feedback/survey apps (such as KissInsights). These tools can be very useful to investigate the root cause of a specific behavior. A TMS allows instant implementation of systems like these, while without a TMS – these tools would have to be implemented by IT.

Tag Management System & Innovation

Ultimately, a TMS allows a website to renew and to change, which in my dictionary is called innovation. Giving the marketing department the capability to deploy a new application on a website within minutes changes the game of what a website is and what it can do for your company.

I’ve worked on developing Javascript tag-based applications since 2000 (adservers), and keep getting impressed on the true capabilities of client-side coding. We launched BTBuckets back in 2008, an on-site behavioral targeting tool and personalization engine completely based on tags. Over 10,000 domains use BTBuckets tags and we’ve learned that the challenge is change – the ability to adapt your website to a specific user segment or situation.

Our take on how to really promote innovation is to create an open marketplace for website apps. We just launched SiteApps.com – which is a TMS with a twist: not only can you manage your tag-based applications, but you have a marketplace where any developer worldwide can submit an application that can be used on your website.

What comes next

According to W3Techs, WordPress powers almost 13% of the world’s largest 1M websites (read full research). I believe that WordPress was selected by these sites because of the capability to adapt. Currently, WordPress has over 15,000 plugins with over 200 Million downloads – and you can find just about anything you need for a CMS. I predict that tag-based solutions offer a faster, cheaper and simpler solution to problems currently handled by the CMS – and I think that a Javascript open marketplace will be a basis for most websites in the future.