A guide for marketers
Tags are the medium used to facilitate the collection and sharing of data between your website and the various technologies you utilize that rely upon this data (e.g. analytics platforms, marketing vendors). With rapid expansion of the digital marketing ecosystem there are thousands of marketing vendors that each have their own tag (or multiple tags) that they wish you to add to your site to enable them to turn on their technologies and facilitate your digital marketing initiatives.
Today sites can incorporate dozens to hundreds of these third party tags, and with this come challenges pertaining to implementation agility and speed, data quality, transparency and control over data collection, performance loss from the loading of tags, etc. Tag management solutions (TMS) have been developed to solve for a myriad of these challenges and to make the management of tags simpler and easier for both technical and non-technical users.
A tag — sometimes referred to as a pixel or beacon — is the means by which data is collected on a website.
Tags power online marketing and analytics. Specifically, they can:
Tags are not cookies and cookies are not tags. Rather, a tag can be used to set a cookie. Cookies are text-only strings of code placed on a computer or device for a variety of purposes including remembering a user’s preferences or the contents of their online shopping cart.
Tags can capture any action or event on a website or device. This may include:
The average enterprise website may have anywhere from 50-150 third-party tags on the site at any given time. This number doesn’t reflect the high volume of fourth-party/piggybacked tags that are often appended to existing tags already in place. Third-party tags represent a wide range of data-driven applications including analytics services such to digital marketing services that power social media, video, advertising, retargeting, search, etc. Some service providers offer more than one tag for various products in their portfolio which can contribute to the number of tags on a brand’s site.
When a user’s browser loads a webpage, the tag tells the browser to connect to a third-party marketing or analytics provider’s server for the purposes of data collection. The multi-step process looks something like this:
Despite a tremendous amount of innovation in online marketing, the tag-driven method of gathering data from website activity has not changed since the 1990s. Tags often create internal conflict between marketing, IT and privacy stakeholders and can introduce pain points for everyone involved in online marketing.
The tag container was originally introduced by the major online ad networks as a way to add a lot of tags to a website and manage them all in one place.
At its core, a tag container is still sending third-party code through the end user’s browser putting data ownership, performance or privacy at risk. There is also a danger of data loss for the site owner and third-party provider when browser tags don’t fire properly. Tag containers do not solve for the inevitability of tags going dark. When it comes to scalability and performance, tag containers are dependent on optimizations to the browser which is yet another third-party service the site owner does not control.
Yes, we’re so glad you asked! Signal’s vision is to fundamentally solve the problems that have emerged from the industry’s now outdated marketing infrastructure. Through technical integration with third-party service providers, Signal makes browser-based optimizations a non-issue by eliminating third-party tags from the browser and delivering data directly to partners through the cloud.
Technology has come a long way in a short time. Signal believes the future is a world where tags no longer get in the way of faster websites, but instead, pave the way for better data-driven marketing programs and innovation for all.