The Road to Here
Third-party tags for online marketing solutions started out simply enough, but have grown from a few pixels to full-on data chaos. Here’s a brief look at how it happened and where we go from here. To learn the basics of tags, visit our Tag 101 FAQ
Third-party tags were introduced in the 90s to help ad servers and analytics packages measure the effectiveness of online advertising and site usage. Tags work by requesting an invisible piece of content — often a transparent image file that is one pixel in size — from a third-party server, allowing the server to record basic data about the user’s visit to a website. As online marketing has expanded, every third-party service provider has created a tag to help collect the data needed to power its solution.
- Third parties in control of data collection
- Complex implementation of tag code
- Updating tags requires a site build
- Basic tag containers cannot handle complex tags
- Most tag containers are not designed for universal deployment across all pages of a site
- Page performance degrades as tag containers insert more third-party code onto a site
Piggybacking & Data Chaos
While basic tag containers have evolved to help site owners wrangle their tags, third-parties have needed their own mechanism for extending data collection beyond a single tag. As online display ad spending grew, ad networks chained together ad server tags in order to increase audience reach across multiple publisher sites. This chaining, often called “piggybacking,” allowed one tracking server to introduce tags for another tracking server, which could then in turn introduce tags for yet another tracking server, and so on. The ability to connect audiences across sites through piggybacking has allowed dramatically new ways of buying and selling advertising to emerge, and is at the heart of today’s real-time bidding systems and data exchanges.
- Data chaos: Site owners have no visibility or control over the tags that third-parties piggyback
- Piggybacking chains can add literally dozens of tag calls to a site
- High-levels of data loss due to tag loading issues
As the online marketing industry’s technical foundation, third-party tags have helped power nearly two decades worth of rapid-fire innovation. But, with an increasingly large set of tags being “dog piled” onto sites to support analytics, search, email, affiliate, targeted display ads and now social media, this foundation is cracking. At the same time, the stakes are getting higher for site owners as they try to sort out how to ensure consumer privacy, control their proprietary data, and optimize site performance.
BrightTag believes that the next generation of online marketing innovation requires a new foundation. Marketers need to instantly connect with best-of-breed partners that can optimally engage their audiences across increasingly fragmented channels. To do so, they require a complete, coherent set of data that can be shared simultaneously across multiple solutions that are making real-time decisions about the messages a user sees and how campaigns are executed.
BrightTag ONE™ provides site owners the tools they need to tame the chaos of third-party tags and connect with the next generation of partner solutions. We have built the mission-critical infrastructure marketers need to maintain transparent control over data from the point of collection onward. With Server-Direct connectivity in the cloud, third-party tags are replaced by transparent, rules-driven partnerships managed through a centralized control panel. Consumer privacy controls that adapt to an evolving mix of worldwide regulatory requirements are baked in from the start.
If all of this talk about tags, servers and scripts seems a bit overwhelming, we couldn’t agree more. By managing increasingly complex technical integrations with third-party partners, BrightTag helps remove friction that slows marketers and websites down. With a new foundation for faster innovation and a better online experience for everyone, the future looks very bright indeed.
Check out How it Works to learn more.