Google launches Web site tag manager

Google Tag Manager offers a Google Analytics-like service for Web site management

Aiming to reduce the administrative overhead of both Web administrators and digital marketers, Google has launched a service that will manage their website tags.

The tag management system could aid in organization's digital marketing efforts and, more generally, allow them to better control their use of tags, or snippets of code inserted into websites to track traffic and website usage.

Google Tag Manager is a free service, and one that operates in a similar manner as other Google web site services, such as Google Analytics or Google Adwords.

Using Tag Manager, an organization embeds a snippet of code that connects each page to Google, which then provides the needed tags for each page when it is called by a browser.

Shifting tags from the Web page to a hosted service could potentially help manage tags in a number of ways, according to the company. Google has developed a mechanism to load the tags so they don't get in each other's ways and slow the page load times. Google also offers a number of tools for debugging and the previewing of tags. Users can specify which pages, or which types of pages, can be delivered with which tags and multiple sites can be managed from a single Goggle account.

Google is not the first to offer to enterprises a tag management service, although the field generally has not garnered much publicity. QuBit, co-founded by former Google executive Graham Cooke, has offered a tag management service, and plans to incorporate Google Tags into its offering.

"It is good for the industry. Google is crystalizing that tag management is a verifiable category," Cooke said.

The company has estimated that only 5 percent of the top 10,000 websites use tag management software or services, though it expects that number to grow rapidly.

Although the service is primarily aimed to serve digital marketing, it can be a handy general use tool as well, especially as an alternative to the sometimes cumbersome tag controls found in today's Web content management systems, Cooke said.

While remaining enthusiastic for Google's new service, Cooke also expressed concern that Google would not keep its own system open and not be willing to work with partners, such as QuBit. QuBit has published an open standard for tag management, called Universal Variable, that it is encouraging other management companies to share.

"The question for Google is, 'are they going to allow a marketplace of third parties if they potentially compete with Google?'," Cooke said.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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