Today, tags are an essential part of the digital marketer's toolkit enabling us to track activity across a website and collect the data to gain a better understanding of how our campaigns are running...
Today, tags are an essential part of the digital marketer's toolkit enabling us to track activity across a website and collect the data to gain a better understanding of how our campaigns are running or our website is performing. But what are marketing tags exactly and how are they used in digital marketing?
When a visitor to the website undertakes a specific action that is configured to trigger the tag, that tag is said to have ‘fired’ - in other words, it collects data about that activity and sends it to, most commonly, an analytics or marketing tool.
There are different types of tags depending on the function they serve. For instance, Pageview Tags monitor visits to different pages on your site and Conversion Tags track every time a sale is made or a lead form is filled out (or whatever action you designate as a conversion).
Marketing tags also go by a number of different names such as website tags, script tags, tracking tags, 3rd party tracking, floodlights, spotlights, or activities - largely depending on the platform that has produced the tag.
(Note: Code-based tags should be distinguished from image tags which, although they play a similar role, are small images, the size of a single pixel, instead of a segment of code.)
Example of tag code
In the simplest of terms, tags in digital marketing are used to send information to an analytics or marketing tool about the different actions users take on their website - for example, form completions, page views, conversions - any number of events or actions you might want to track. Anytime you are looking at this sort of data, this is because of a tag.
In particular, tags enable marketers to:
Third-party cookies, cookies that are created by a domain other than the domain or website a user is visiting, operate using tags. With GDPR and other privacy laws, the use of third-party cookies is being phased out. What this means is that tags will no longer be able to provide third-party data, largely ruling out activities such as campaign ad retargeting as well as reducing the amount of audience information that can be collected for building audience segments.
(For more information on how cookies impact marketing, check out: What is Multi-Touch Attribution and why do third-party cookies matter?
Well, don’t fret - explore our collection of What is...? guides to learn all the different marketing analytics terms you need to know!
Tags are most commonly deployed using a Tag Management Solution or System (TMS) for example, Google Tag Manager or Adobe Launch.
A TMS is a platform that enables marketers to, you guessed it, manage their tags more effectively. For example, a TMS lets marketers deploy multiple tags via a single tag called a ‘container’ tag. Marketing teams can define specific rules from within the TMS. The container tag will fire other tags based on those rules.
Aside from being a much simpler and more organized way of managing your tags, a TMS can often mean that web pages load more quickly by controlling the way different tags load.
What is a Data Mesh (and why should marketers care)?
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