Tag Management Gains Traction with Marketers

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A vast majority of marketers see tag management as an important solution for their customer data integration challenges, a recent Forrester study shows.

And while tag management is still viewed primarily as a tool for managing digital marketing vendor tags, most marketers now see its greater value as a managed service for collecting, segmenting, and distributing digital visitor data, the survey found.

Tagging, which involves creating special code within each page of a Web site to record visitor behavior for future analysis, requires significant IT and development efforts. Despite the difficulties of building and maintaining all of the JavaScript code that pertains to captured and "tagged" events, 94 percent of the respondents in the Forrester study see digital data integration as the next step in the evolution of tag management. A repurposed approach to tag management, marketers maintain, can help them better understand the customer journey and create more effective customer acquisition and retention programs.

"The results of this study reinforce the challenge that most organizations have in trying to integrate and leverage their digital data to help improve marketing," says Ali Behnam, president and cofounder at Tealium, the study's sponsor.

The study revealed that 65 percent of marketers view tags as strategic for managing the exchange of mission-critical data between site visitors and digital marketing vendors. Ninety-six percent currently have customer data integration challenges, spurred by a lack of IT resources, data quality issues, and cost. The same 96 percent plan to increase their tag management budget by up to 35 percent this year, as compared to last year.

Internet browser providers have also taken notice. A year ago, Google launched a tag management service appropriately called Tag Manager, and in July, Adobe acquired Satellite, a tag management technology that helps marketers with analytics and media tracking across Web sites.

Though tag management technology has arisen to address the complexity of the many bits of code required, significant Web site latency remains a major roadblock, given that 10 percent of a Web site's traffic is lost with every second it takes to load a page.

Online florist Serenataflowers.com's IT team, for example, found it was spending too much time tagging data for Web analytics and, in turn, holding the company back. The team also found that JavaScript tags were increasing lag times on the company's Web site and that their third-party Web analytics service could not provide real-time visibility into data. Furthermore, the tools they were using could not capture customer behavior on complex product category pages.

"Lag time is a huge issue for any online retailer. Any delay in page loads will deter people from using our Web site," Peter Ahl, founder and managing director of Serenataflowers, says. "We wanted a way to measure how many times particular products were displayed on each of our different pages, and how often each one was suggested to the customers. But it was simply not possible to measure these events properly given the traditional data model of the Web analytics tools we were using."

Still, tag management continues to garner attention as it evolves beyond its original intent. "Don't let the [name] fool you. Tag management's digital distribution capabilities make it a critical component of customer data integration strategies," the Forrester study states.

"We are excited to see that tag management is evolving into an even more strategic role within digital marketing. We certainly see this trend reflected among our many customers and are proud to be innovating in this area," Behnam adds.

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