Test TMS Vendor Claims via POC

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Stéphane Hamel from Cardinal Path makes many excellent points in his recent blog post “Five things to look for when selecting a Tag Management System”. As awareness and excitement grows about Tag Management across the interactive marketing industry, there is a real need for expert advice on how to find the right TMS to fit the needs of your business – so thanks for your post Stéphane. There are a number of TMS vendors out there and it is getting increasingly difficult for theaverage buyer interested in TMS to separate hype from reality.

As the founder and CEO of Ensighten, a Tag Management System vendor, I thought I’d add some thoughts to supplement Stéphane’s post, based on our years of working with clients like Sony, Microsoft, HomeAway, Staples, Monster.com, Purina, Whirlpool, Symantec and others, all of whom went thought the process of competitively evaluating, buying and implementing TMS solutions.

1. Claimed TMS functionality – test claims via a POC.
Some vendors will claim out of box functionality and then the TMS implementation becomes an intensive code customization project to deliver on promises. This delivers a sub-optimal TMS dependent on custom code, delays implementation and often times doesn’t deliver the expected or promised functionality. Make sure your TMS vendor supports your most complex tags and tag use cases out of the box.

2. Site performance – test claims via POC
All TMS vendors claim to improve site performance by removing tag code from the page. Again, the only way to really evaluate the impact (positive, negative or neutral) of a particular TMS vendor’s architecture and technology infrastructure on your site is to try it in a POC (proof of concept evaluation in a live or staging environment of your website). We regularly go head to head with other TMS vendors in competitive site performance evaluations, run by neutral third parties (e.g., an agency running a TMS evaluation process) using industry standard tools (i.e., Gomez and Keynote). We recently participated in a competitive POC process and increased site performance by 20%, shaving 2.5 seconds off page load time. The other TMS vendor in the competitive POC process had no impact on site performance. The results in performance improvement for sites varies dramatically between TMS vendors.

3. TMS Platform Extensibility
Web/html tag management is the key requirement for any TMS vendor. But do you have flash applications on your site, like games or video players? Do you have iOS or Android mobile apps? Are you anticipating collecting digital data from all your channels – all your consumer touchpoints? If so, look for TMS vendors that can support tagging in all your key digital channels, not just the web.

4. Tag Privacy and Compliance
Tags are fundamentally about data collection by 3rd parties who use the data to delivery services to your website. But are all those tags collecting data in compliance with your privacy policy? With the law? Are you supporting Do Not Track headers? Is your site ready for the upcoming UK cookie law? Will the TMS privacy solution monitor ALL tags on your site or only a subset? Look for a TMS vendor who can support your privacy and compliance needs.

If you have one take away from this blog comment – test your potential TMS vendors’ capabilities in a POC. Ensighten just signed a contract with a major automotive brand this morning who had worked with another TMS vendor and found the prior vendor’s system wasn’t solving their TMS problems. So after a long and careful POC based evaluation process, after failing to get the required results in an initial TMS deployment, the brand has been able to make the right decision for their business.

Take the time to have a thorough competitive TMS vendor evaluation process. It’s not like you’re just buying the Friday morning doughnuts, a TMS will be a critical part of your online business for years. Make the right decision for your TMS needs the first time – it’s an important decision for your business.