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What is Google Tag Manager?

November 4, 2021 / Reading Time: 4 minutes /
Rhodri Lloyd

If you are currently using Google Analytics or Google Ads, or undertaking training through the Google Analytics Academy, there is a strong chance that you have seen these platforms referencing Google Tag Manager. If you were to do a Google search for “what is Google Tag Manager? (or GTM for short) it tells you that Google Tag Manager is a tag management system, but what does that mean? Why should we use it?

What did we do before Google Tag Manager?

Historically if you ever wanted to add Google Analytics or Google Ads code, or other third party tags (such as Facebook Pixels or Mouseflow), it was a long and time-consuming process. You would have to follow this process:

If there were then any modifications to the implemented tag, or the need to add a new tag, then you would have had to repeat this above process. As you can see, this was not a quick process, meaning that a lot of time and development resource (as well as cost) was required to make these changes. This is obviously not an effective process, which is where a tag management system comes in to streamline and quicken this process.

Why does Google Tag Manager make the addition of tags easier?

Google Tag Manager streamlines this process, allowing any member of the marketing team to add, test and deploy a tag within a short space of time. This can be done without the need to:

The only assistance you will need from a Developer here is the addition of the initial Google Tag Manager code to the website, as a Developer will need to add 2 code snippets to the website to implement Google Tag Manager. Once this has been implemented on your website, you are good to continue and add tags yourself.

Similarly, from a pure code perspective (i.e. the code you need to physically add to your website) the previous manual process continually added more code and file size to your website, potentially leading to pages loading more slowly. However, Google Tag Manager does not require additional code to fire tags, with all the required tags firing on your website through the Google Tag Manager code instead of adding additional code, allowing for a more streamline code base on your website.

In terms of being able to manage the use of tags on your website, in addition to the ease of adding tags, Google Tag Manager allows you to be able to view all the tags added to the website through an easy to use and understandable platform.

Why is Google Tag Manager more relevant than ever now?

Google Tag Manager as a platform has been available for several years now, but its take up has increased somewhat in recent years for not just the reasons we have already detailed above, but also due to updates (and the potential threat) of Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP). We have an existing blog post detailing what ITP is and how different browsers use analytics cookies, but we wanted to highlight its relevance here, as this is a key reason as to why you should be looking to use Google Tag Manager.

As a Google certified partner, we regularly receive updates from Google advising us on how to deal with ITP updates and other industry changes to privacy and cookie policies, which may impact our ability to track, measure and report. Through this partnership, Google has recommended to us that we look to use Google Tag Manager or the Global Site tag (GTAG) to implement Google Analytics code. We will look at how you can use GTAG in a future blog post, but our recommended approach is to use Google Tag Manager here, due to the flexibility and ease of use that Google Tag Manager provides.

What is the structure of Google Tag Manager?

When you open up Google Tag Manager, you will see a number of different navigation areas.google tag manager

Google Tag Manager is a comprehensive and sometimes complex tag management solution. We have tried to provide an overview of what Google Tag Manager is and how we can, and do use it. 

Do you have any further questions about the platform, and how and why you should use it?

Please get in touch and a member of the team will be happy to help.

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