The world of web is always changing, and we are about to be dealing with an Apple Safari initiative called “Intelligent Tracking Prevention,” now in 2.0. In a nutshell, what it does is block certain forms of tracking in Safari by automatically blocking and deleting cookies. While that's good for privacy, it makes legitimate marketing efforts to give users relevant content a bit harder.
To solve some of the new issues raised by this project, last year Google released a new way to install Google's family of tracking pixels for DoubleClick, Adwords, and a few other things called the "Global Site Tag" or "gtag" for short. The early documentation out there was pretty technical, and the recommendation to install Gtag to solve all of your ad attribution problems seemed pretty compelling. The requests started flooding in. It turns out that it's not needed in all cases, and you have to read the tech docs and really understand what it is and what it's not in order to do things right.
I'm not seeing a lot of writing out there that actually understands what gtag is and when it's needed. This post is to help remove some of the confusion I am seeing surrounding the two.
Why Something New?
At Simpleview, we adopted Tag Manager early and along the way created a suite of tools and helped formulate the best practices for using Tag Manager. But a lot of websites out there still don't use it. Because of these non-adopters, Google came out with a new simpler platform the Global Site Tag. The naming of the new platform made the difference. Clearly, with "Global" in the name, it's got to be good. Adoption has been fierce.
What is Google's new Global Site Tag (Gtag)?
But here is the thing. If you already have Tag Manager installed, you don't need or want to add gtag.js to the mix. Per Google, just use Tag Manager to handle your tags. If you are reading this and are on Simpleview CMS, then you DO NOT need Gtag because your site already has Tag Manager. But there is something you may need to do if it has not been done already.
Adding Conversion Linker?
It's a simple tag, built into Google Tag Manager which needs no configuration just add it using the All Pages trigger and publish. Done. That will handle all of you Adwords, DoubleClick and other tags already installed via Tag Manager and neatly handle everything that Gtag would do. No need to change anything else. It seems too simple but that is REALLY all you need to do.
Q: I have Tag Manager; do I need Gtag?
A: No, Google's DoubleClick docs say keep using Tag Manager and simply add the Conversion Linker tag.
Q: My agency sent me Gtag code mixed with DoubleClick tags. What do I do?
A: You can send that to Simpleview, and we can translate it into proper Tag Manager tags. Or you can simply inform your agency that you already have Tag Manager and simply need the Adwords/DoubleClick tags from the using Tag Manager tab. You can always send them a link to this post if they want to know more.
Q: I have legacy custom HTML or hard-coded DoubleClick tags on my site. Do I need to do anything?
A: If you still have legacy tags on your site, even if they are installed in custom HTML tags in Tag Manager, they should be updated to use the simple forms instead custom HTML, which won't get updated when things change (like this change). That's pretty easy to do, and we would be happy to show you how, or do it for you.
I hope this helps understand a little more about the differences between Google Global Tag (Gtag) and Google Tag Manager. As always, feel free to ask more questions in the comments.