Google Tag Manager vs Google Analytics: Key Differences

When it comes to optimising your digital performance, Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics are two tools that stand out. But what are the differences between these two platforms? This article will explore each platform’s distinctive features and benefits. From managing tracking codes to reporting capabilities, we’ll delve into the crucial aspects that set these tools apart. So, let’s dive in and discover the nuances of Google Tag Manager vs. Google Analytics.

What’s Google Tag Manager (GTM)?

Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a free Tag management system from Google for deploying and managing tags on websites, apps, or online products. To understand this better, we must know what a Tag is. A Tag is a short code or tracking pixels placed in a website source code (or online platform’s source code) to collect user action data such as clicks, form submissions, and landing pages.

Data on users and how they interact with the website or application is tracked and collected by these Tags and sent to a platform (such as Google Analytics 4) through a Tag Manager such as GTM. Without a Tag manager to collect user data, you have to manually add multiple Tags to each web page’s source code, which can be handy to set up and maintain and would require the help of a developer. 

With Google Tag Manager (GTM), you can manage, add, update, or remove Tags through its web-based interface without having to do so on the webpage’s source code each time. The best part is you can use it to manage the Tags of multiple platforms, such as Google Analytics, and other marketing tools, all in one platform without the need for manual coding.

GTM provides three key features: Tags, Triggers, and Variables. The Tag feature is used for creating Tags, while the Trigger is used to determine when and where tags are fired based on specified conditions and the variables feature for storing the data.

Overall, Google Tag Manager helps to streamline the process of implementing and managing multiple tracking tags on your website, making it more efficient and less prone to errors with less reliance on developers.

What’s Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is an analytical platform for tracking and analysing user behaviour across different platforms and devices. It uses an event-based model to capture and track key user metrics such as user engagement, conversion paths. Not only does it track and store user actions, but it also offers features for advanced analytics and reporting. It helps you understand how users interact with your website or application, giving you a more holistic view of user behaviour across every engagement point. 

GA4’s implementation requires adding its tracking code to the web page’s source code for collecting user event data, and GA4 focuses on analysing the data collected by the tracking code. It offers a user-friendly and intuitive interface and reporting, providing insights and analysis that help you understand your user journeys and make informed decisions.

In GA4, there are different categories of user events; some are automatically collected events, while others require configuration before they are collected.   

Overall, Google Analytics 4 is a tracking tool offering reporting and advanced analysis capabilities.

Key differences between Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics

Google Analytics 4 vs Google Tag Manager Comparison
Google Analytics 4 vs Google Tag Manager Comparison

While both tools are from the same provider, Google, they have distinct features and serve different purposes.

Google Tag Manager’s key functionality is managing and deploying tracking tags. On the other hand, Google Analytics 4 analyses the data collected by its tracking code and provides insights into user behaviour.

For implementation, GA4’s tracking code is added manually to the web page or app’s source code for data collection. Every time you need to modify or remove this code, you have to do so at the web page’s source code, while for GTM it creates a container code that you place in your website that acts as a container of all your tags. You then manage these tags in your GTM interface; you can keep track of the changes made to your tags.

With GTM, the website or platform only loads a container rather than each tracking code, which means the website runs faster.

Furthermore, you can use GTM to deploy and manage the tracking tags of various platforms such as Google Analytics, Google Ads, and other marketing tools. It integrates easily with these platforms and sends the tracked data to them but doesn’t provide its own data analytics capabilities. While GA4 only tracks your website or app’s data and provides detailed insights and data analytics capabilities.

In summary, Google Tag Manager is a tool for setting up Google Analytics and other marketing tools. Whereas Google Analytics 4 is a tool for tracking and analysing your website or application users’ behaviour.

Conclusion: Should you use GTM and GA4 together?

You don’t necessarily need to use GTM and GA4 together, but using GTM to deploy and manage GA4 tracking codes streamlines the implementation process, provides centralised control and flexibility, and reduces associated business costs attached to hiring developers for manual coding.

In GA4, custom events are user events or actions you create based on your specific business needs; examples could be a particular page view, form submissions, or button clicks. Some custom events require that you create the GA4 event tags in GTM; likewise, some automatically tracked events, such as internal link click tracking or scroll-depth tracking, also need to be set up in GTM as the data collected is limited.

You can use GTM and GA4 together; by capitalising on their strengths, you strengthen your analytics setup and make data-driven decisions to optimise your digital performance.

Do you need help setting up GA4 custom events via GTM?

This article highlights the importance of setting up custom events via GTM and how it helps collect substantial and complete user event data. Are you struggling to effectively track and analyse your website or product’s user behaviour? We are here to help. 
With our proven track record in implementing GA4 custom events, we will ensure accurate data collection, advanced event tracking, and insightful analytics to boost your business growth. Contact us now to maximise the opportunity to optimise your digital performance.


Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between Google Analytics 4 and Google Tag Manager?

Google Analytics 4 provides reports on your website or application performance, while Google Tag Manager is used to set up Google Analytics 4 and other marketing tools. 

Do you need Google Tag Manager if I have Google Analytics 4?

You can use Google Analytics 4 (GA4) on its own: however, using GA4 with Google Tag Manager (GTM) makes more sense. GTM allows you to easily set up GA4 custom events and dimensions without asking developers.

Can you have Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics at the same time?

Yes, you can use both Google Tag Manager and GA4 at the same time to strengthen your analytics setup and make data-driven decisions.

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