Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tag You Are It: Tags and Tag Management

Tag You Are It: Tags, and Tag Management

As a child tag was simple.  Sure you have the occasional argument as to whether the other person was really at Safe Base, actually touched you or the definition of cheating.   However, this tag is more like that irritating material inside your shirt that bothers the back of your neck.  These tags are behind the scenes on websites and most people don’t know they are there.  If they are not installed correctly or there are too many, they can make the site load irritatingly slow.  In this blog post I will share what Tags are and why many people expect Tag Management to continue to be a hot topic in 2013. 

Tags are a little piece of code written into the data layer of a website.  There are a number of different types of tags with their distinct purpose. A list of different types found at Wikipedia[i] are as follows:
  • Tag (metadata), an index term assigned to a piece of information
  • Tag URI, a unique identifier protocol used in internet technologies
  • Tag (programming), a method for passing parameters to subroutines
  • TAG (BBS), a bulletin board software program
  • HTML tag, a component of the HTML programming language
  • Knowledge tag, a type of meta-information that captures knowledge about an information resource
  • Revision tag, a label for a specific revision of a project
  • Tag system, a deterministic computational model
  • Using a tag editor to edit the metadata of multimedia content
  • The entries in tag files generated by ctags, indexes to identifiers in source code
Tags for web analytics help track and collect data from website visitors.  In the simplest form Tags are used to track page views, visitors, time on site, referrers and all the basic usual data.  They work in the background and interact directly with basic web analytic tools.  In 2012 Tag’s became more robust with customization.  “By customizing your tag to collect intelligent metadata, you can significantly enhance the types of advanced analysis you do with your web analytics tool. For example, a newspaper publisher can use the custom variables feature of the analytics tool to identify which section of the site visitors saw during their visit. Or a bank can pass anonymous data about visits by existing customers and visits by prospects.  Or that the visitor completed a survey during the visit. Or that they participated, unknowingly of course in an A/B or MTV test.”[ii]    This uber-intelligence empowers the company to improve segmentation because most analytic tools do not collect all this information on their own.  The year of 2012 became the year of the tag.  Companies started utilizing tags more and customizing them extensively.  This caused a major problem with website load times and major management issues. Not only did they slow down websites but installing, modifying, updating and collection became a huge head ach for websites.  It was too complicated for most companies IT person and required a third party servicer.  Companies like Tagman, Satellite and Tealium specific to just Tag Management began operating in the market.  Soon Google Analytics and some of the other big analytics companies took note and started to introduce their own versions.  Innovation became essential to improve the technology for faster website loading and simplifying the management process.

2013 will larger more sophisticated system that will make tags even more powerful. The industry will see some major consolidation of many of these tag management specific firms.  Technology will make the process of managing tags easier and quicker.  Some interfaces like Google will make it as easy as an HTML editor.  The ability to increase the levels of segmentation will improve and targeting the client will become easier.  According to the podcast Beyond Web AnalyticsEpisode 63: "2012 in review & looking to 2013"[iii], tag management will continue to dominate web analytics.    

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