Add tag management to the growing list of Google tools. The technology giant announced this week the first release of its free Tag Manager.

The newest Google tool, delivered as a cloud-based service, allows users to manage their website tags from a single web interface, so that tags can be quickly added and updated without IT help. With this move, Google is giving the marketing department one more tool to compliment and hone their Google Analytics results.

Async Tag Loading

Features include asynchronous tag loading, enabling tags to operate quicker and without slowing down the visible page, and tag templates, designed to permit quick tag-adding by marketers, including custom tags.  

Preview mode is one of the error prevention techniques used in the Manager. There’s also a Debug Console and, if you want to go back to a previous version, a Version History. Large teams can work together with the tool via user permissions and multi-account functionality.

Companies that issue tags can contact Google about becoming a tag vendor. To set up Tag Manager, users simply need to create an account, add a code snippet to the site and start managing. Google Certified Partners can offer custom help.

Responses from Tealium, Ensighten

To this point, tag management has largely been the province of specialized vendors, such as Tealium and Ensighten.

Both of those companies had immediate responses to the Google announcement. In a posting on its company web site, Ensighten Vice President of Marketing Des Cahill noted that, just as Google Analytics raised awareness of analytical tools but left room for high-end products by other vendors, Tag Manager may do the same.

Cahill pointed out that Tag Manager has limited support for non-Google Analytics web analytics tools or for enterprise tags like multivariate testing, among other shortcomings. Also, as a free tool, there are no guarantees with Google Tag Manager -- if there’s a problem with your company site, you’re on your own.

Additionally, Cahill said that “a simple container tag based” tag management system, such as Tag Manager, “can’t provide the same level of improvement of site performance” as a sophisticated tool like Ensighten, with an advanced global infrastructure “custom-built for accelerated real-time tag delivery.”

Similarly, Tealium CEO Ali Behnam told CMSwire that Google’s entry “validates the tag management space” and is a “nice product for small businesses,” but it’s “not an ideal option for enterprise web sites with complex needs” and with a wide array of digital marketing vendors.