Google Tag manager – what's it all about

by Kristian Humle Lauritsen October 30th, 2012 

Googles newest addition is Google Tag Manager, which got published the 1st of October 2012. Google Tag Manager is a free tool that helps with many organizational problems, which may occur, when you as a marketer wish to implement different kind of script-tags on a website.

The tool allows you to add or change tags on websites instantly and with great flexibility and easier implementation.

How does it work?

It is both easy and fast to get started with Google Tag Manager. The only thing you need is to:

  1. Create an account on www.google.com/tagmanager
  2. Create a container for a site
  3. Add a script-tag on your website

Now you are able to manage different tags in an easy way.

In general, each container in Google Tag Manager is based on tags, rules and macros:

Tags

In Google Tag Manager "tags" are snippets of code, which collects data, tracker ads, and performs other functions. Basically, Google Tag Manager supports the following tags:

  • AdWords Conversion Tracking
  • Doubleclick Floodlight Counter
  • Doubleclick Floodlight Sales
  • Google Analytics
  • AdWords Remarketing

Additionally, Google Tag Manager gives you the opportunity to use both "Custom HTML Tag" and "Custom Image Tag", where you can implement your own tags.

Rules

Rules, is the rules, which is connected to a tag. These rules choose, if a tag is executed or not. The rules are continuously evaluated and the associated tags get executed, when the condition of the rules is complied. An example could be, when a specific URL is requested:

url equals test.com/thank-you/

Macros

Macros supply Google Tag Manager with continuously dynamic data, which makes it possible to e.g. use the predefined macro "URL" to get in touch with the current URL.

Generally, there are three defined macros in Google Tag Manager:

  • URL
  • Referrer
  • Event

Furthermore you have the opportunity to create personal defined macros, if you have further demands or requirements.

Overall evaluation

When you evaluate the Google Tag Manager, you have to know, that it is a brand new product within a relative new technology (tag management). Because of this, you cannot expect a complete support of any tag you demand. Google itself has announced plans about implement new features the following months.

Below I have listed an overview of immediate advantages and disadvantages, when you are using the Google Tag Manager:

Advantages

  • Free tool, which everybody with a Google account can access.
  • Fast and easy to implement/change/update tags through the web interface
  • Good overview of all the implemented tags in one place
  • Asynchronous tag loading, which reduce the loading-time without slowing down any visual content
  • Good opportunities to personalize the Google Tag Manager
  • Preview mode/debug console, which makes it easy to check for problems with an implementation
  • Version management, that gives you the opportunity to choose old implementations, if a new implementation does not work according to the plan
  • Multi-account-function, which give the opportunity to associate extra users easily and control the usage of the account.
  • Gives the ability to bypass IT department and get your changes implemented instantly

Disadvantages

  • Currently, the Google Tag Manager does not support tags, that makes visual changes on the page (e.g. A/B testing scripts)
  • There are currently no support for cross domain tracking
  • Gives the ability to bypass IT department and deploy changes that has not been tested properly

If you liked this, you might also enjoy 3 Practical AdWords Strategies for Mature PPC Campaigns  

Kristian Humle Lauritsen

I have over 10 years of experience within online marketing from both the "buyer" and "seller" side of the online marketing table. My buying experience is from managing various online marketing projects in Nykredit, one of the largest financial companies in Denmark. My selling experience is from my current position as founder and COO in Marketing Lion an online marketing agency specializing in search marketing with offices in London and Copenhagen.

Marketing Lion

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