How people manage the third-party tags on their websites

Whenever we speak to our customers, there’s a source of frustration that comes up time and again: managing third-party content – specifically, tags. This is one reason why we launched our third-party tag review service.

But we wanted to understand those frustrations a little better. So we sent a survey to our customers to see if they would be happy to shed some more light on the issue.

Here’s what we discovered:

1: Who is responsible for the management of third party tags within your organisation?

2: Who is responsible for implementing third-party tags on your website?

These answers highlighted the fact that the people responsible for managing third-party tags aren’t always the people adding and removing those tags. This can in turn lead to tension and misunderstandings. It may be unclear who bears ultimate responsibility. There may be gaps in knowledge as people are unsure of who is supposed to be keeping track of what.

Tag managers are one way to mitigate these risks, often taking tags outside the scope of IT and placing them in the hands of marketing or ecommerce. However, as we’ll see later, 77% of respondents said they used a tag manager of some kind, which suggests that at least some IT departments are working with tag managers.

3: Do your key tags have any performance or availability SLAs or targets that they have to meet?

This is quite striking. Third-party tags can be single points of failure – a source of worry for many of our customers (see below). So it’s unfortunate that so few of them have any comeback if tags aren’t delivering the performance they should.

4: Do you think that you could list all of the tags that are being called by your site?

5: Would you be able to assign a business value to each of the tags on your site?

6: Do you have a tagging strategy?

7: Do you conduct regular audits of your current tagging implementations in relation to your tagging strategy?

The answers to these questions suggest that people generally don’t know a great deal about the third-party tags on their site and don’t have a way to track them or the value they deliver. This confirms a lot of what we’ve heard anecdotally. There is still an air of mystery about the smoke-and-mirrors world of third-party tags. Sometimes, a tag may be left on a site without anyone quite remembering why it was added or what it actually does. And it’s normally easier just to leave it alone, rather than make waves by removing something that might be delivering some kind of value.

8: Do you use a tag management service? If so, which do you use?

Tag managers are popular. They make it easy to add, remove and generally keep track of the tags on a website. But they’re not a panacea. Some can themselves be blocking, single points of failure. And by their very nature, they will tend to delay the discovery of the tags they contain, which can also be a problem.

9: Tell me your top three most important ‘wants’ from the list below.

I want to know...

We weren’t surprised to see performance at the top of this list, with security-related issues a close second. People aren’t so concerned about what’s on their site and how it got there ... as long as it’s not actually doing any harm. And even now, when most tag providers offer asynchronous solutions, we still come across plenty of examples where third-party content delays first-party content.

We were really pleased by the response to the survey, and we’d like to thank everyone who took the time to complete it. Several people were kind enough to offer to take part in future discussions about third-party tags and the services we offer around them. If you’re interested in taking part too, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Published date:  17 January 2018

Written by:  Alex Painter

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