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Google releases simple, centralized tag solution

Google has just announced the Google tag – a simple, centralized, reusable tag that’s built to improve data quality and adopt new features without having to modify and install more code. The Google tag is an upgrade and rebrand of the global site tag.

What is the Google tag. The new Google tag is a single, reusable tag built on top of your existing gtag.js implementations. Google says the tag will roll out in the next week and should be placed on all pages of your website. They claim the tag will “help you confidently measure impact and preserve user trust.”

New codeless features. According to Christophe Combette, Director, Ads Measurement Products, Google, the new site tag will have more codeless features such as analyzing events, managing the tags from one central screen, and using a single line of code to enable more products, accounts and features from the interface. There will also be more privacy-safe measurement capabilities, better data quality, and increased ease of use. Users will also be able to use their existing Google tag installation when setting up another Google product or account or creating new conversion actions, instead of configuring additional code each time.

Will the global site tag be sunset. While Combette claims that the global site tag branding will be sunset, the tag itself will not. Users with the global site tag installed will continue to operate as normal. The global site tag will continue to work and tag implementations will not change. The global site tag will have new capabilities if you want to adjust settings or create new accounts.

Advertisers with multiple instances of gtag.js can now combine those tags and centrally manage their settings in the Google tag screens in Google Ads and Google Analytics. Since it’ll be easier to set up sitewide tagging and combine or reuse tags, you can easily increase the number of tagged pages with consistent configuration. This helps improve measurement, leading to better-quality customer insights. You can also now manage user access to your tag settings across products in one dedicated place, giving you more control over who has access to critical measurement settings.

What products will have the new Google tag. Google says, “The Google tag already works with many Google products such as Google Ads, Campaign Manager, Display & Video 360, Search Ads 360, Google Analytics, and more. The new codeless tagging capabilities of the Google tag will initially be available in Google Ads and Google Analytics, and will expand to other products over time.”

What Google says. You can read about the new Google tag, its capabilities, and best practices here.

Why we care. The release of a new tag may be confusing for advertisers. It’s unclear whether advertisers who are using the global site tag should leave theirs installed, or replace it with the new Google tag. It’s also unclear on what happens if users decide not to install the new Google tag. If the global site tag will feature the new capabilities, what incentive do advertisers have to use the new one? However, the new Google tag seems more intuitive and easier to manage. If Google can make the transition smooth and uncomplicated, then it could be a win.

Q&A from Christophe Combette, Director, Ads Measurement Products, Google

What is tagging and why is it so important?

Understanding the effectiveness of online advertising and on-site behavior with digital marketing and measurement tools requires advertisers to measure various interactions on their websites. It is the foundation of measurement and also is essential in enabling businesses to implement privacy-centric measurement tools, such as Consent Mode or the Privacy Sandbox in the coming months. Tagging is critical to an enduring and effective measurement strategy.

Tagging is the underlying code that powers the sitewide measurement in Google Ads and Google Analytics, so advertisers, businesses, and marketers can better understand customer activity and glean actionable insights. To get a bit more technical, tags are the code snippets that make this online measurement possible. Tagging typically involves a marketer or developer adding a base or global tag for each measurement tool that they use to all pages of their website, as well as sometimes adding event tags to measure key interactions such as submitting a contact form or completing an online purchase.

What is the new Google tag?

Google tag is an expansion and rebrand of the existing global site tag. In a time where measurement is more essential than ever, it’s critical that businesses are able to set up a strong foundation. To help advertisers, marketers, and businesses continue to measure conversions while adapting to ecosystem changes and respecting users’ privacy, it’s essential for them to have high quality, site-wide tagging. 

Google tag is – at its core – one tag. For example, if an advertiser has two Google Ads accounts, they only need to tag once, where previously multiple tags would have been needed. This works the same for an advertiser who uses both Google Ads and Google Analytics.

The new Google tag includes codeless features and experiences for customers that will allow them to take advantage of more privacy-safe measurement capabilities, better data quality, and increased ease of use. 

Why is Google tag replacing the global site tag?

The Google tag is an evolution of the global site tag and built upon its existing capabilities. It is a more efficient and seamless experience for customers and it will enable businesses, both big and small, to more effectively manage tags and more easily leverage privacy-safe measurement solutions. 

Is there a deprecation date for the global site tag? 

Advertisers, marketers and businesses who are currently using the global site tag, will not need to make any changes. While the global site tag branding will be sunset, tag implementations do not change and existing tag implementations will continue to work. Those with global site tag will now have new capabilities available to them should they need to adjust tag settings, create new accounts within existing products, or begin using new products (i.e. Google Ads or Google Analytics).

How is the new Google tag different from the current global site tag?

The new Google tag will incorporate more codeless features where previously in-page code changes may have been required. For example, prior to Google tag, each event you wanted to understand would need to be set up through in-page coding – something that takes both expertise and bandwidth. With the new codeless capabilities, advertisers and businesses can do that all through the UI.

Additionally, Google Analytics and Google Ads customers will be able to combine and manage their tags from one central location in newly introduced “Google tag” screens. For advertisers without deep technical knowledge (especially those with multiple accounts or using multiple Google products), this makes it easier and faster to manage your tags and improves consistency. 

For example, prior to the Google tag, when getting started with Google Analytics or Google Ads, an advertiser was instructed to install the global site tag (gtag.js). If they wanted to set up a second product or account, they would be required to add an additional line of code to the gtag.js implementation to begin measuring with that second product. With the new Google tag experience, customers will be able to use a single installation of gtag.js to enable more products, accounts and features from the product interface.

Is the implementation of the new tag the same, or how will it change?

Generally, the first implementation of the Google tag on a website is the same as with the global site tag. The key difference is that the tag now only needs to be installed once. Setting up a second or third product or account will not require additional tag implementation. Additionally, we’re working with some of the top Content Management Systems and web platforms to make simpler integrations available – so, if an advertiser or business uses a popular CMS, they may not need to implement any code at all.

Will the Google tag be used for all Google products, or just Google Ads? Or, if not all products, which Google products can the tag be used for.

The Google tag already works with many Google products such as Google Ads, Campaign Manager, Display & Video 360, Search Ads 360, Google Analytics, and more. The new codeless tagging capabilities of the Google tag will initially be available in Google Ads and Google Analytics, and will expand to other products over time.

The how it works (from the same support documentation) – what’s different and does anything stay the same. 

When it comes to what’s different, it’s all about simplification, ease of use, flexibility, and improved features. Customers who are currently set up and are not looking to make any expansions, will not see any changes – though more features and flexibility will be immediately available to them. 

For new customers, or customers who are looking to set up a second product or account, they will now be able to use the one existing tag to expand, eliminating a number of steps along the way.

What are best practices for marketers using the Google tag?

First and foremost, the Google tag should be installed on all pages of an advertiser, business, or marketer’s site. By doing this, it will ensure that they get the best possible measurement from their Google tag and will enable them to adapt new features as they become available. 

Next, if you already have multiple tags installed on your site, consider combining them so that you can manage settings centrally and take advantage of combined page coverage. 

Organizations with custom-built websites should think about working with developers to implement events and parameters for key user actions. While more and more measurement will be possible codelessly, working with developers to instrument important events and data that would be otherwise difficult to capture codelessly (such as ecommerce data from custom websites) can help achieve richer measurement. 

Are there any things to watch out for? (EG configuration? any issues if you have both the global site tag and new Google tag in your code at the same time? Could that cause issues)

The Google tag will make the tagging experience more seamless for customers. As previously mentioned, customers with multiple existing tags should consider combining them in the new Google tag screen in Google Ads and Analytics to centralize management of settings. 

After two Google tags have been combined, for example, using an ID from either original tag will work to load the combined tag. When two instances of a combined tag run on a given page, only the first on-page configuration will take effect. Customers who use many on-page configurations in their global site tags today should be thoughtful about updating tagging settings when combining tags. The new Google tag screens will guide users through these actions.

Is it compatible with Google Tag Manager?

Customers who use Google Tag Manager should not need to make any changes today. We will have more to share about how these Google tag capabilities work with Google Tag Manager and how customers with the Google tag can upgrade to Google Tag Manager in the coming months.

Will businesses/marketers get any new types of data as a result of this change? 

The Google tag will make it easier for businesses/marketers to measure various data and interactions on their websites, but the types of data they get will be consistent with what’s possible today.

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About The Author

Nicole Farley is an editor for Search Engine Land covering all things PPC. In addition to being a Marine Corps veteran, she has an extensive background in digital marketing, an MBA and a penchant for true crime, podcasts, travel, and snacks.