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.

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