Static vs Dynamic Tag Management. Which one is best for you?

By October 30, 2015Analytics

It is my not-so-humble opinion that the advent of Tag Management Systems are the best thing to happen to Digital Analytics since high-speed internet connections. Tag Management Systems have removed much of the complexity and overhead of managing page tags, and have allowed marketers the ability to change and adapt tagging with amazing speed. During my career, I have used or been exposed to every major TMS in the analytics industry, and I develop my favorite tools and biases. Recently, I was tasked with updating some tags for a client that uses Adobe Tag Management.
After the implementation, I started thinking about not just the UI and workflow differences between tools, but more of the differences between the logic behind various TMS tools. It occurred to me that Tag Management Systems fall into two broad categories (which Adobe coincidentally named their products): Tag Management and Dynamic Tag Management. In this post I will compare and contrast these two TMS categories, so you can make informed choices about which type of system is right for you.

So what is tag management, and why are we so hyped about it?
Tag Management Systems are online programs that you use to manage any/all of your websites’ third-party tags. The primary purpose of a TMS is to manage your analytics (Adobe Analytics, Google Analytics, Web Trends, Target, etc.), but you can literally put any tag (Optimizely, ObservePoint, Live Person) into your TMS. When you put a tag into your TMS, you can make edits and updates through an online console rather than having to go to your developers and get in their development life cycle. This cuts down turnaround time and resource overhead.

This also comes with a tremendous responsibility, as you now have the power to inject code directly on your site, which can slow down or even break parts of your pages. Most TMS administrators sit between marketers and developers. The best TMS admins are familiar with both worlds and can translate the language of the two.

The categorical difference between Tag Management Systems revolves around the way administrators use the systems. Static Tag Management Systems employ the use of containers that are put on your web pages, and all the different third-party tags you want to use are placed inside of the containers. These tags contain all of the code that captures your interactions, and if you want to change the way Adobe Analytics captures a button click, then you change the Adobe Analytics s_code (e.g., the Adobe Analytics tag). You also have a container with Dynamic Tag Management, but instead of a tag that contains all of your interactions, you create a series of tags that track interactions. Instead of placing raw javascript in the s_code of a tag, if you want to track a button click in a Dynamic Tag Management System, you would create a rule based on that element on the page. Both systems accomplish the same goal. In one system you write the code, and the other system is more point and click. Both of these systems have their own merits and their own drawbacks.

To demonstrate Static vs. Dynamic Tag Management, let’s look at the way we would track a button click in each.

Installation

Use Static

write the code based on button click Create a rule for button click

Less coding knowledge needed.

Which type of TMS is right for you?
A better question probably is which type of TMS is best for your organization?

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