A couple of weeks ago we had a Web Analytics Wednesday in London about tag management (don't forget that I presented one once!). The highlight of this for me (I was coming down from a nice two week holiday on the slopes and the bars of Andorra, so I wasn't my usual self!) was a quote by the Tagman representative that most of the tools were remarkably similar, but they all had different outlooks on where they thought the industry was going to be in five years time. What you should do, is go to their websites and work out if where they are going matches where you are going as a business.
You can tell where this is going, can't you? I'm going to help you with this by going to the websites of all six panellists (and maybe Google Tag Manager too) and write it out for you. All you have to do is work out where your business is going to be in five years time.
Tag Management isn't dead according to the panel, despite Google entering into the arena. They think that Google will stick to Google products (we'll come back to that later). But, they do think that customers need tag management tools to make it easier to change and add tags to their website. Given that, you're probably going to hang on to a tag management tool longer than an analytics tool (or a remarketing tool, or a affiliate tool, etc), so they have a slightly longer term focus than the Analytics tools that you use. Working out where you are going to be in 5 years could be difficult though (5 years ago the world was very different) - but this is a good indication. I'd still recommend talking to many vendors if you are going to decide which to go with though.
TealiumTealium come from a web analytics background. The two founders were WebSideStory guys originally (if you don't know who they are you should check out my post on where is your analytics tool now) and they have a large backing from venture capitalists in the US. Generally they are considered as the market leader - they have their own conference and a 'university' to teach people how to use the tool.
BrightTagBrightTag go for the data approach, but their background is ad tags. The annoyance of adding yet another affiliate tag to the site when you strike up a deal means that a tag management solution is ideal.
This data approach is interesting though - rather than have an approach of trying to work out what you want to collect and then send it to a particular tool, they do it the other way around. They tell you everything you have and then you choose where you want to send it. This alternative approach means that instead of adding a new tag to a site, you are effective providing the old data to a new company. It's an abstract way of looking at the same thing.
The impact of all this is that rather than keeping a handle on which tags you are putting in, you need to keep a handle on which data you have. This is great if your site is simple, but if your site is more complicated and changes in structure frequently over time then it could cause issues.
EnsightenEnsighten CEO Josh Manion came from a web analytics consultancy background, so you can see why he had the focus he did when he set up Ensighten. Early tag management solutions were slow and caused lag in page load times or didn't capture the right data.
Ensighten is all about speed. It speeds up the loading of the tags on the pages so that your users don't get pissed off. This might sound like something out of the 14th century, that isn't the case with things like mobile networks where it can still be important to ensure that your tags work before the user leaves the page and if necessary the tags put the advertising up too.
TagmanTagman's current raison d'etre is about attribution (or at least, that is what is slightly different about them as opposed to the others).
Seven years ago whilst I was working for a famous insurance company, we tried to implement an attribution system that would allow us to pay affiliates and so on, only if they were one of the last five referrers. That meant coming up with a solution that would only send off the affiliate tags on payment page if they should be.
This is the sort of thing that is going to be increasingly important in the future for sites that have frequent turn arounds on visitors. You don't want an affiliate to be allocated money for sales number two, three and four in a month by a person if your own remarketing has persuaded the user.
TagCommanderIf Ensighten is about speed of pages, TagCommander is about speed and ease of deployment. It is also a European solution, which is often preferable for European brands.
When I say ease of deployment, the container in all these cases is easy to deploy in equal parts. The difficult bit is the interface and putting the tags on the pages. TagCommander goes for a four click process for getting a new tag on the page. If you've dealt with Google Tag Manager (why should I need to know regex to make a tag live?) then you'll know why having a simple solution makes the most sense.
DC StormDC Storm are a football team from Washington. Not really, they're a tag management solution from Brighton.
DC Storm look at the world from a data point of view as well. Where BrighTag could probably be called a taxonomy of your site that allows you to point data at will, DC Storm take the data into their systems first and then you work out how to disseminate it from there.
This is an approach that some will feel will allow you to be all inclusive of all sorts of channels ('Big Data') and not just traditional web based data. This allows you to lots of attribution and so on outside of your traditional reporting mechanisms.
Bonus: Google Tag ManagerIt's USP, unlike the others, is that it is free.
Tag Management is a relatively new industry. Many of these organisations that you see above haven't been going that long, so you'd expect this space to change relatively rapidly. This isn't great for a company that you are going to want to stick with for five years.
Watch this space.