This guest blog by Matthew Wright, a data scientist at HP, discusses how HP was able to see the value in using Dynamic Tag Management on day one.

Deploying online measurement is hard. Let’s not dance around the subject—the pain caused by third-party data collection is alive and well in 2013, despite numerous advances in data collection. Tag management was designed to address the pain associated with third-party data collection. However, most organizations still struggle even after investing in these expensive solutions.

Most tag management solutions fail in four main areas:

  • Focus on the Data, Not the Tag: Don’t be fooled by the myriad of tag templates that most tag management solutions offer; they are far less important than good metadata management. The hard part of any tag management deployment is never the tag—it’s getting that data correct.
  • Simplicity of Approach: Most tag management solutions overthink the approach to tagging sites. If the solution you’re using can’t be groked in under 2 minutes, then it will likely not buy you any efficiencies.
  • Speed of Action: Many tag management solutions have extensive controls that are meant to “protect” your site. This inadvertently slows down the rollout process, taking weeks rather than days. Digital measurement must move fast, and weeks are typically too long.
  • Cost Effectiveness: If you’re paying significantly for any of these features, then you’re probably overspending.

Hewlett-Packard’s Approach

HP has all the standard challenges that any large enterprise experiences: hundreds of people analyzing data, all requiring new information to be measured, and everyone looking to do this as quickly as possible.  We’ve evaluated a number of tag management vendors, and for some digital properties, selected different vendors. However, when it comes to dealing with these issues—data centricity, simplicity, speed, and cost—Adobe Dynamic Tag Management makes the most sense.

HP’s Experience: One Day

Most tag management rollouts take time and effort to plan and execute. Unfortunately, like everyone else, we don’t have months of free time to plan a migration—much less to spend on a migration. The size and speed of our digital organizations requires we spend more time “doing” rather than “theorizing.” I decided to see how much of our site could be migrated in one day into Dynamic Tag Management. Living with a solution will reveal the strengths and weaknesses of a technology faster than anything else.

Within about three to four hours, I was able to move most of the data collection routines into Dynamic Tag Management’s data elements. That’s all the data collection required for well over 150 distinct dimensions and metrics used across 80 percent of HP’s traffic.

What impressed me most was the intuitive approach to metadata organization that I haven’t seen in other competing products. Other tag management solutions say they manage metadata well, but in truth, they confuse template organization or metadata “labels” with true data management.

Dynamic Tag Management Is Simple

Once I organized all the data elements, mapping these data elements to tags was simple. Again, most of my effort was in typing in labels and testing to make certain  everything was working correctly. Dynamic Tag Management’s templates provide enough flexibility to add constants to variables without corrupting the underlying metadata—again, something you don’t see.

Dynamic Tag Management Is Fast

Most tag management solutions introduce unnecessary complexity in the deployment process by creating too many controls that slow down the visibility of changes. I remember working with several solutions and playing the “wait and refresh” game to see if my changes were finally published. This kind of process lag is the dirty little secret of tag management—the steps required to test and debug changes can be slowed down sufficient to make a simple tag rollout take weeks.

Honestly, I expected the same to be true with Dynamic Tag Management. On the contrary, from the moment approvals occurred, everything replicated almost instantaneously, even with all the additional data source logic added.

At HP, our emphasis on security is critical, and sometimes speed is sacrificed for security. The added benefit of self-hosting Dynamic Tag Management files allows me to be fast during testing and still apply all standard IT release processes and controls to Dynamic Tag Management. That’s definitely not available with other pure ASP models.

The Last Mile

The one-day test resulted in more than 80 percent of our massive implementation migrated and working in a staging environment. More testing will be required to ensure that all our exception cases are covered, but most of the testing so far shows that Dynamic Tag Management requires little tweaking to get it to cover the last mile.

Adobe’s Dynamic Tag Management solution makes hard things simpler. Doing most of an enterprise migration within a one-day period is impressive for any enterprise. I was surprised and encouraged. But the data management emphasis means that maintaining that speed and further reducing tag management complexity in the future will be sustainable. I’m excited to see how Adobe Dynamic Tag Management continues to evolve and simplify tag management.