Google neon light
PHOTO: mjmonty

Google followed up its March release of trigger groups for Google Tag Manager with an announcement in May about new custom tag templates for both the Tag Manager and Tag Manager 360 platforms.

What advantages do these new tag templates offer? To appreciate it, let’s consider the tag managers purpose.

Related Article: How Google Tag Manager Trigger Groups Improve Analytics 

What Do Tag Managers Do?

Tag managers act as bridging solutions between a site or apps main analytics tag and its customization. Without it a team would have to constantly take down pages to update links to use any special measurement settings. So a tag manager provides an opportunity for teams to manage the analytics by placing tags — for applying links and triggering special features and variables — into a container, a programming object. These tags capture the desired data from those features.

Teams today usually use built-in tags and variables to address some commonplace needs. But sometimes it's necessary to develop a custom set of tags and variables which need to be shared with other teams ease. Custom tags also help when incorporating third party scripts such as Pixels, which are used for remarketing campaigns for social media platforms.  

In other words, custom templates allow analysts to write tag and variable definitions so everyone involved in the effort share a common programming architecture where needed among tags and variables.   

Related Article: Do You Need a Tag Management System?

Custom Tag Templates in Google Tag Manager

Custom tag and variable templates are accessible through an updated Templates section within Google Tag Manager. The new section appears in the left sidebar when you are within a container. The section contains a template editor for creating and testing the functionality of the template. 

The template editor has four input segments for defining the tag template:

  • Info, which defines the core template properties, such as the tag or variable name.
  • A fields input for tag template.
  • Code, an input for a sandboxed version of JavaScript. This lets the users define how the tag or variable should behave.
  • Permissions, view and set limits on what a tag or variable is permitted to do. A variety of developer-level choices range from reading data from a datalayer to reading a cookie.

The editor includes a preview mode which gives you a view of the tag in action before it is activated.

These options allow you to design tag and variable templates that can then be used for a given container. A few features, like permissions, may be better discussed with a developer regarding implementation. But because the choices relate to APIs, marketers can gain an understanding of how to include third party solutions within a tag and variable.

Related Article: Stop Torturing Your Data and Other Tips to Reveal True Data Insights

Changing Dynamics of the Analytics World

Custom tag templates represent another area where analytics is becoming democratized. Ever since the days of the first log, analytics has always been a diagnostic affair. But when tag managers became available, marketers no longer had to go to a developer to revise tags, as they now had more technical access to add tags without a heavy knowledge of HTML or JavaScript. This changed how marketers could manage their campaign tasks. 

The new capability also alters communication requirements, through the introduction of a permission-centric approach to maintaining the right level of tags. If managers and analysts of a given campaign have access to how tags are formatted and styles, then the team can give access to people to make minor tag changes, versus full permissions to alter technical features of a tag setting. All of this is to remove the bottleneck that sometimes occurred with IT teams, allowing for quick campaign changes and streamlining the coordination of tag changes.