Auditing your marTech tags and TMS

My first few posts in this series have established why marTech Ecosystem health matters, and shown some ways to measure the impact marTech is having on your site. Now, let’s talk about how to do a deeper audit of the tags on your site so you can start to plan a way forward.

Keep a Tag Inventory

I have a template as part of my governance workbook download, but it’s not hard to get started on your own: create a spreadsheet with one row per tag/vendor account, with columns for at least the following:

  • Vendor (Facebook, Doubleclick, etc)
  • Account Number- your key to the audit*
  • Date of last update to tag
  • Internal Owner/Agency Contact Info
  • Next Steps (investigate, keep, remove)

*That account number can become a useful tool for finding more information about the tag. If I look in my email box for the word “Adwords”, the results would be hard to wade through. But If I search for my Adwords account number, “AW-123456”, it will take me directly to correspondence about that tag. This also helps when using your TMS’s internal search functionality, or to use as a filter in the network tab:

It’s ok if this sheet is a work in progress- in fact, I guarantee it almost always will be. It’s ok if the sheet only has information in three rows, or just has the first two columns filled out. It is better to have a blank workbook so you can at least have a place to store info as it becomes available, or to add new tags to, than to have nothing at all. Just fill in what you can, when you can.

Use Tools Like Observepoint

Observepoint has a free chrome extension that you can run to see which known marTech tags are on any page you access:

It will automatically map domains to known vendors and show you account numbers where applicable (again, you can see how those account numbers are handy for tying information together). Since this tool works on a page-by-page basis, I recommend running it on your home page and any key conversion points, like a purchase confirmation page, because most of your tags are likely to be represented there.

If you want a more comprehensive scan of your site, the paid Observepoint App does just that- it crawls your site and gives you a full report of everything it finds. You may need to teach it how to get to parts of the site that require interactions (like logging in, or entering credit card information) but with Observepoint, the more time you can invest in it up front, the more value you will get out of the tool.

The nice thing about the paid app is it has an under-appreciated “Tag Initiators” tool that shows you which tags are loading other tags, which is invaluable for helping figure out where your less-obvious tags are coming from.

A quick note: Observepoint may not recognize and catch some of the more obscure tags- I did come across a few that the extension didn’t pick up (though I have no doubts they have a drastically more comprehensive list than I do). I don’t think this is a shortcoming of theirs, but just the nature of the beast: there are almost 10,000 marTech vendors now, and many of them use multiple domains for tracking. But just in case, you may still want to run the domains report and analysis I talked about in my post on marTech impact, and may need to supplement their mapping with information from our vendor/domain mapping database, or you may have to do some research on your own. I’ve found to be a great resource for this type of research.

Use TMS Container Export tools

There are free tools for both Adobe Launch and GTM to help you see all your different tags (and help you get a sense of the health of your TMS set up).

For Adobe Launch, Tagtician by Jim Gordon is still one of the handiest things out there. It’s a chrome extension you can use to download an entire Launch library- toggle the library option at the top:

Then click “export”:
This will give you a spreadsheet with information on every rule, data element, and extension in your Launch environment:
I tend to move the “extensions” and “data elements” info to their own tabs, then add some columns to the rules data:
  • Tag Vendor
  • Vendor ID
  • Event
  • Potential Last Date Updated (or Date Implemented)
  • Notes

I turn it into a table and organize by Extension, add columns for Vendor, Account Id, event (What the tag does), date of last update, notes, etc… and then just start at the top and work my way down:

Sometimes, the tag is directly in the exported file in “action detail”, but much of the time custom code resides in external JS files and frankly, I haven’t found an easier way to get at the code than to just open Launch and go looking for it.

Urs Boller also has a great tool for Launch: the Launch Parser. It makes it easy to see the relationships between the different components (what data element is getting used where, etc) and also helps spot problems and make recommendations.

For GTM, Simo Ahava has a great tool for showing all the different components (tags, triggers, variables, containers) and their relationships to each other. Then if you want to dive deeper, you can export your container directly from the GTM Admin console:

This spits out a JSON file that can be a bit intimidating, but you can paste it into a tool like to turn it into a much more manageable spreadsheet.

Do what you can

I know an audit sounds like a lot of work. At the bare minimum, set up that Tag Inventory and just start documenting things going forward, then audit past stuff when you can. I recommend just taking on one vendor at a time (eg, all your Facebook tags at once). Apply a new naming convention/meta data standard as you go to keep track of what you’ve updated/inventoried and what you haven’t.

It’s better to have something in place, even if it’s imperfect.

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