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5 reasons to adopt a Tag Management System this new year


Q&A with Lukas Oldenburg, Sr. Digital Analyst, and Teamleader at UNIC AG, Zurich.

Lukas Oldenburg

We recently sat with Lukas, an analytics expert and TMS power user, and picked his brain on his usage of tag management systems, what he finds most useful about them, and the next industry to adopt them. Some of his responses may surprise you.

Commanders Act: For you, what have been the 2-3 most useful features of a TMS?

Lukas: This sounds trivial, but the two most useful features of any TMS are the “Test” and “Publish” buttons. These two buttons incarnate the main utility of a TMS: Gone is the dependency on releases. Gone are the expensive and often tedious testing loops with the tech team just to get a couple of lines of JavaScript online.

These buttons also represent something to me that is often only an afterthought when switching to a TMS: Tag Management as an innovation catalyst. With a TMS, you can experiment with a technology / “tag” instead of having to ask for IT budget first and then wait weeks until your request is prioritized and implemented. The latter scenario will usually make you not want to experiment much which, in turn, slows your innovation tempo mightily.

What was the most complex solution you’ve implemented using a TMS. How long did it take you to implement it?

Lukas: The most complex solutions are usually advanced web analytics integrations on larger websites. Right now for instance, we are working on transferring the analytics and ad tags of a big multi-domain and multi-language mobile site into a TMS. This site for example has a lot of Webtrends-based custom event tracking to analyze how the navigation is used (which elements are clicked in which context etc.). Most of the event tracking code is heavily intertwined with the code that also provides the actual website’s functionality. So, the line of code that lets the user see something change on the screen is often also the same line that executes the analytics tracking code. That – and the lack of good documentation and access to the developers of the application – make it rather complex to carve out the analytics code without damaging the actual application. It feels a bit like open-heart surgery…

This next question is related to one I just asked you. Can you please share your best practices for implementing complex solutions?

Lukas: Try to keep the application and the “tracking” code separate from the very beginning. Tag Management Systems will force you to do that eventually anyway.

Travel and ecommerce sites appear to be TMS early adopters. What other industries/verticals do you see following suit in 2014 and beyond?

Lukas: True, the B2C e-commerce and travel sites are the frontrunners here because they simply make most or a huge part of their money online and are very dependent on “typical” online marketing tags. Any other industry directly earning most of their money online will follow. Apart from that, I feel some rising interest in the financial as well as in the recruiting sector, but that is just a personal feeling of mine here in Switzerland and not founded on any research.

What advice do you have for companies considering adopting a TMS but are on the fence about their value?

Lukas: As I mentioned above, don’t forget that a TMS is an innovation catalyst. This means that you can only partially assess a TMS’s value based on your current or expected needs. Once you are using a TMS, unforeseen opportunities and use cases will pop up. As Eric Peterson from Web Analytics Demystified wrote recently: “The advantages of TMS […] are so many that we have simply stopped counting, and our most advanced clients are starting to do things with tag management that we’re not sure even the vendors imagined.”

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