When it comes to web page loading, good things do not come to those who wait. Research shows that 40 percent of visitors close a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. These facts send chills down the spines of marketers, but in truth, everyone in a business should be concerned: latency means fewer sales, more negative brand associations, and less return customers. Simply put, the slower your site, the worse your performance.

Companies need to seek out ways to reduce website slog. A first step should be to get a handle on site tags, a main culprit behind those delayed loads.

We spoke with expert, Bobby Chucas, Product Manager at Qubit to get the lowdown on what a tag is, why companies need tag management, and what you should look for in a (TMS).

A Brief History of The Tag

First off, it’s helpful to know just what a tag is. Tags are often mistaken for cookies, but the two, while often used in conjunction, are not synonymous. A tag is a piece of site script used to track data. A tag can read and place cookies onto a site in order to aid with data collection.

At the advent of the Internet, tags were simple one-pixel gifs. They’ve since evolved, and are now generally lines of JavaScript housed by containers. Tags are essential to online advertising and marketing because they power data collection and sharing. If you’ve ever wondered why it seems like CMOs are buying more technology than CIOs, it’s in part, because of tags. Tags enable user profiles to be created, and this profile data forms the basis of targeted marketing campaigns. Tags also aid analytics and social media, meaning companies often place many third-party tags on a site: on average, most sites have between 50 and 150 tags because of all the different analytic providers they’re using.

Chaos and Conflict

But all those tags create problems. Just like a marathoner running with a backpack full of bricks, those tags slow down sites. Tags can also break, fire off when they should not, cause security problems, and invoke services that cost companies money. The more tags a page has, the more at risk it is. Additionally, because tags are lines of code needing to be updated, they often set up a Montague-Capulet divide in companies between IT and marketing. Marketers must wait months for a two-minute update, while IT frets about site failures caused by bad scripts. Businesses need to be able to insert or remove tags easily to avoid these problems.

Tag Management Systems, and How to Pick One

Tag Management Systems (TMSs) have emerged to address these challenges. For example, Qubit’s Opentag allows all of a company’s tags to be managed from a single place. With Opentag, companies can decide which tags go on which pages, track and collect data, and use information from the page in tags.

The ultimate goal of a TMS is to enable smooth data collection and usage. But, not all TMSs are created equal. Here are the key things companies should look for in a TMS:

  1. Data freedom: Some TMSs hold data hostage. A solution like Opentag sends data to a data warehouse, allowing companies quick access for analytics, even for third party tags. The purpose of tags is to facilitate data collection — if a TMS impedes data collection, or does not integrate well with other data tools, you’ve defeated the point.
  2. Cost and efficiency: A TMS should be part of a larger data collection and analytic platform to reduce cost and improve efficiencies. It should not be a huge expense.
  3. Streamlining: A TMS should have an extensive library with a variety of e-commerce partner tags, so that changes can be made to almost any page quickly. Those changes should be able to be made all in one place. Reducing the time spent on tag management is key.
  4. User liberalization: Tags are integral to marketers and therefore, marketers should have the power to change them. A quality TMS makes tag management simple, allowing marketers to control the process instead of IT so they can apply analytics more quickly.

Although the TMS market has been commoditized for some time, there’s still a sizeable gap between the free offerings and the more serious enterprise ready solutions. However, enterprise features, along with freedom and flexibility for your data, don’t deserve to cost an arm and a leg any more. -Bobby Chucas

Ultimately, companies should think of tag management as a vital part of their data management. A TMS is a tool that allows businesses to do data management better, empowering marketers, and allowing them to get more from their data.

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