Performance marketing insights, discussions and expertise

The Fast Five of Tag Management Systems

By on September 27, 2012

speedI’ll admit it, I love fast: fast food, fast lanes, and fast sites.  While the first two are simply guilty pleasures, the last is a daily way of life.  I hate the “World Wide Wait”. Luckily, at Impact Radius I get to help improve the WWW.

Our latest tag management system in particular offers a major speed benefit. On our own website, www.impactradius.com, we’ve experienced as much as a 77% reduction in page load time after implementing our tag management system!  This incredible improvement has us quite excited.  But how does a single line of code help speed up my site you ask?  Here are five reasons behind the magic of consolidating all your tags.

1. Asynchronous vs Synchronous
The first reason a tag management system improves site speed is the ability to load tags asynchronously.  A typical website loads tags synchronously meaning each element must load completely before the next consecutive element begins to load.  For example, if you have tags that need to load in the header of a page, none of your body content will display until the header has fully loaded.  Asynchronous tag loading on the other hand allows individual tags to load independently from the rest of the website, thus reducing wait times for the elements that really matter to visitors.

2. Leveraging CDNs
Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are a distributed network of servers used “to serve content to end-users with high availability and high performance.”  Impact Radius’ tag management system is powered by a CDN with servers in North America, Europe, Asia, and South America.  This helps website speed in two ways.  First, the large number of duplicate servers ensures failure is virtually non-existent; since a server is always available, your tags will always fire.  Secondly, with servers distributed across all major geographical areas, user requests are always routed to the closest available server, therefore speeding up tag loading by reducing the travel time of requests.

3. Establishing Firing Rules
While some tags (mostly analytical) need to be fired on every page for every visitor, most tags should be fired selectively.  A tag management system allows you to control when and where a tag is fired – a concept that’s very challenging to implement and virtually unscalable with traditional website content management systems.  Furthermore, a tag management system allows you to easily establish limits on how many times a tag is fired. Many tags, like remarketing tags, only need to be successfully loaded once per user or visit.  Fewer tag fires results in shorter load times.

4. Protecting Against Failure
Most major spikes in load times occur when something goes wrong.  Since points of failure are inevitable, a tag management system provides “insurance” against tag failures. This usually occurs not on your website’s end, but when a tag is unable to connect with the destination server such as your analytics service provider.  Depending on the placement of the tag on your page, this can even cause a full page outage.  With a tag management system, you are able to set timeout limits on specific tags and prevent tag failures from failing your entire page.

5. Optimizing Performance
While your analytics provider may report overall site speed performance, you probably won’t see any detail on tag performance.  If you really care about how tags impact speed, you need a continuous monitoring and optimization strategy.  A tag management system should report load times and performance of specific tags on specific pages.  This way you can identify areas of improvement and target issues directly.  You can also run tests on different tag configurations to determine the optimal setup for your site.  A long-term strategy for continuous improvement will ensure your site remains as quick as the day you launched it!

Harder. Better. Faster. Stronger.
If speed is an important factor for your website, implementing a tag management system can help in so many ways.  From pure speed improvements to fail-safe protection to long-term optimization, a tag management system offers multiple tools to help you build a quicker, more robust website.

To learn more about tag management systems and their other benefits, check out our other resources.  Or drop us a note and we’ll be glad to get you up to speed in person!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *