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Glossary term

Tag manager

Quick definition

A tag manager is software that allows users to quickly and easily update tags on websites or mobile apps from a simple user interface.

Key takeaways


●      A tag is a piece of JavaScript code that is placed on a website.

●     Tag managers help marketers manage tags from a user interface instead of directly manipulating the website’s source code.

●     A tag manager shortens web development cycles. It frees up developer time so they can do other important work instead, and allows marketers to gather, organize, and manage website data better.

Jon Viray is a senior product manager at Adobe. In his 10-year career as a marketer and manager, he’s helped develop go-to-market strategies and enabled brands to deliver compelling consumer experiences.

Q: What is a tag manager?

A: A tag is a piece of JavaScript code that is placed on a website to label and categorize content. A tag manager, or tag management system, is a type of software that makes managing those pieces of JavaScript code on a web page easier. Marketers use a tag manager interface to manipulate and edit new tags without diving into a website’s source code.

Q: Why is a tag manager important? 

A: A tag manager shortens web development cycles. In the past, if a website admin wanted to make a change on the company website — like tracking the performance of the “buy now” button — a web developer would have to go into the website source code and write new JavaScript around that button. With a tag manager, admins enter the user interface and select the button and tracking they want to see, creating a new tag. This process protects the integrity of a website’s source code and data. It also prevents scenarios where someone less qualified could make changes to the source JavaScript, creating errors that would impact the entire web experience.

A tag manager frees up developer time so they can do other important work instead, while empowering marketers to make changes to marketing tags as needed. It allows marketers to gather, organize, and manage website data better.

Q: What are some different tag manager platforms?

A: There are many different types of tag managers on the market. We recommend Adobe Experience Platform Launch because it delivers a straightforward user interface that’s less complicated than others. Plus, it's the only tag management system that lets technology providers directly develop and maintain integrations or extensions that help marketers define and capture customer data.

As you evaluate a potential tag management system, research the company behind it. Your tag manager will become an integral part of your company website's architecture. The creator should continually optimize their product and offer you support.

If you're not sure what to look for in a tag management system, these FAQs will guide you as you look into different platforms:

●     Is the tag manager flexible? Does it support custom JavaScript in case you need to configure unique marketing tags or debug systems?

●     Is the tag manager extensible? Does the system support third-party tags? Can you build your own extensions? Can other technology providers build their own extensions or plugins so you can work with integrations that don’t sacrifice functionality for ownership?

Does the tag manager company provide frequent software updates? Web experiences are always evolving, so your tag manager software should, too. Frequent updates — every several months instead of every year — mean you will always have the latest and greatest technology at your disposal.

Q: Who should use a tag manager?

A: If you plan to make frequent changes to your website, you should use a tag manager. The same goes if you’re tracking new data or using many different technologies within a web page. Tag managers make all these tasks easier and enhance the functionality of your technology.


Q: How does a tag manager work?

A: As you use your tag manager account to create new tags, the code is injected into the JavaScript on your website’s backend. There are two types of tag management implementation: asynchronous and synchronous.

●     Asynchronous implementation involves putting one line of JavaScript code at the top of a web page.

●     Synchronous implementation involves putting one line of JavaScript code at the top of a web page and another piece of code at the bottom.

The reason why it’s important to distinguish between these types of implementation is because a web page loads from top to bottom. If you use a synchronous ad tag, the tag loads in sequence with the page content. The page won’t load until the entire piece of code loads, which could create slower pages and slight delays. On the other hand, asynchronous ad tags load independently of the other elements on the web page. The page will load more quickly, but the user could begin to navigate before your tags have finished loading.

Synchronous tags can be helpful in certain situations, like running an A/B test. Asynchronous tags are generally better for tracking and collecting data.

Tag managers are hosted on a content delivery network (CDN). In this type of interface, marketers define what data, tags, and customer behaviors are important. Based on that information, the tag manager creates a tracking code and inserts the new tag onto your web page.

Q: Why is a tag manager important for my marketing strategy?

A: Businesses are constantly expected to do more with less. Web development teams especially are overloaded and stressed. If you want your brand to be agile, a tag manager is a helpful solution. In today’s digital landscape, slow content deployment means losing to your competition. As your business objectives change, a tag manager helps you act on your new objectives as quickly as possible.

With a tag manager, marketers can set up new campaigns, create surveys, test user experience elements, track page views and other important metrics, and get data to new places without putting more stress on their web development teams. This frees up both groups to push the business forward.

Q: How will tag management evolve in the future?

A: Tag managers have already begun to expand from website use into the native mobile app market. Soon, marketers will be able to change and customize mobile app experiences without risking source code functionality across iOS and Android.

You’ll also see development in server-side offerings. When a tag manager sends data to a certain destination, it executes that action on the website itself, forcing the website to do more work and slowing down customer experiences. Instead of sending the data from all pages of the website, your tag manager will be able to send the data to the vendor, and then the vendor will use its servers — not your computer or web browser — to send the data to third parties. 

Adobe can help

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