GTAG vs GTM: What to choose?

Marketers and analysts need to understand the differences between GTM and GTAG because it can be confusing to decide which one to use. This article explains the distinctions between GTAG and GTM, including their advantages and limitations. Doing so helps marketers and analysts determine what tool to choose.

So, let’s delve into the world of GTAG vs GTM.

GTM and GTAG have similar functionalities for loading tracking codes and tags on websites or apps’ source codes, which can confuse marketers trying to decide which tool to use. Although they serve similar purposes, they have distinct functionalities, advantages, and limitations worth exploring.

Here is a quick comparison of Google Tag Manager (GTM) and Google Tag (GTAG), two powerful tools that marketers and analysts often consider for their tracking and analytics needs.

ImplementationJavaScript code snippet manually added to each pageContainer code snippet implemented once
Ease of UseRequires technical knowledge and involvementUser-friendly interface
Centralised ManagementNoYes
Version ControlNoYes
TestingNoPreview mode for testing
CustomizationLimited customization optionsWide range of templates and variables
CollaborationNo collaboration featuresMultiple users can collaborate
IntegrationSeamless integration with only Google productsSeamless integration with Google products and third-party services
Comparison Table: GTAG vs GTM

Now, let’s take a closer look at these two tools and explore their functionalities in more detail.

What is GTAG (Google Tag)?

GTAG How it looks

GTAG, also known as Google Tag, is used to implement various Google tracking services on websites. GTAG is a JavaScript library that enables the loading of tracking codes on a website, and it is specifically for tools like Google Analytics, Google Ads, and Google Marketing Platform. GTAG allows website owners and marketers to track and collect data related to user behaviour and conversions.

Google Tag is simply a tag provided by Google Analytics, Google Ads, or Google Marketing Platform that you can install on your website, which sends tracking data to each of the platforms. 

For example, if you want to send tracking information from your website to Google Analytics, through the implementation of GTAG, you will need to insert the code snippet into the HTML code of their web pages. Once implemented, GTAG starts collecting data and sends it back to Google Analytics. With GTAG, a knowledge of JavaScript will be required hence it will likely involve the use of a developer for implementation and when changes are required as it is hard coded.

In summary, GTAG is a JavaScript code snippet provided by Google that empowers businesses to implement various Google tracking services on their websites. It enables the collection of valuable data, allowing businesses to make informed decisions and optimize their online presence. It gives you complete control over the tags installed on your website.

What is Google Tag Manager (GTM)?

Google Tag Manager Homepage
Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a powerful Tag management system from Google for deploying and managing tags (tracking codes) on websites, apps, or online products. It acts as a central hub where you can add, edit, and control all your tracking codes without directly modifying your website’s code. GTM creates a container code that you place on your website that acts as a container for all your tags. 

With GTM, you can easily add tracking codes (tags) from different services, such as Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, or custom tracking codes, to your website. Instead of manually inserting these codes into your website’s codebase, GTM provides a user-friendly interface where you can set up and configure tags. 

One of the key benefits of GTM is that it allows non-technical users, like marketers or website owners, to manage tags independently without relying on developers. You can make changes to your tracking codes, add new tags, or remove existing ones without modifying the website’s code every time. This flexibility and control over tags make GTM a valuable tool for efficient tag management.

Additionally, GTM offers advanced features like version control, which allows you to keep track of changes made to your tags over time and roll back to previous versions if needed. It also provides built-in error checking and preview capabilities, ensuring that your tags are working correctly before they go live on your website. With GTM the tagging can either be on the server-side or client-side.

In summary, Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a user-friendly tool that simplifies the management and deployment of tracking codes on your website. It empowers non-technical users to take control of their tags, making it easier to track and analyse website data accurately.

GTAG vs GTM: What to choose?

When deciding between GTAG and Google Tag Manager (GTM), it’s important to consider your tracking needs carefully. Here are some key factors to help you make the right choice:

  1. Intuitiveness: GTAG is a simple tracking code framework you can implement directly on your website. In contrast, GTM offers a more user-friendly interface, making it easier to manage and deploy multiple tracking codes without directly modifying your website’s code.
  1. Flexibility: While GTAG allows you to add tracking codes, GTM provides greater flexibility and control. With GTM, you can easily add, edit, and disable tags without relying on developers. This flexibility makes GTM more adaptable to changing tracking requirements.
  1. Advanced Features: GTM offers advanced features like version control, error checking, and preview capabilities. These features allow you to track changes to your tags, identify and fix errors before they go live, and preview how tags will function on your website. GTAG lacks these advanced features.
  1. Collaboration: GTM promotes collaboration between marketers and developers. Marketers can make changes to tags independently using the GTM interface, while developers can focus on other website development tasks. This collaborative approach streamlines the workflow and improves efficiency compared to GTAG, which may require developer involvement for every tracking code update.
  1. Integration: GTM seamlessly integrates with various Google services and other third-party services like Facebook. This integration simplifies the implementation and tracking of these services, providing comprehensive insights into your website’s performance. GTAG integrates only with Google Analytics, Google Ads, and Google Marketing Platform.

In conclusion, if you prefer a simpler approach and have basic tracking needs, GTAG may suffice. However, if you value flexibility, advanced features, collaboration, and seamless integration with Google services, GTM is the recommended choice. Consider your specific tracking requirements and the level of control and functionality you desire when deciding.

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GTAG vs GTM: Final Word

In this article, we have discussed how both GTM and GTAG have similar functionalities, and we have also highlighted their advantages and limitations. 

To summarise, GTM offers a user-friendly interface, providing simplicity and ease of use. It allows for greater flexibility and control over tracking codes, with advanced features like version control, error checking, and preview capabilities. Collaboration between marketers and developers is streamlined, and seamless integration with Google services enhances tracking capabilities.

GTAG is more suitable for basic tracking requirements that don’t require version control, tracking new events frequently, testing of tags, and integration with services other than Google Analytics, Google Ads, and Google Marketing Platform. 

With all that has been highlighted, you should be able to choose which tool best suits you. When comparing GTAG and GTM, many individuals, including myself, lean towards Google Tag Manager as the preferred choice for efficient and effective tracking code management.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between GTAG and GTM?

The main difference between GTAG (Google Tag) and GTM (Google Tag Manager) is that GTAG is a JavaScript code snippet that needs to be manually implemented on each website page to implement Google tracking services. At the same time, GTM is a comprehensive tag management system that simplifies the process by providing a container code snippet implemented on the website, allowing marketers to manage and deploy various tracking codes and tags from multiple services, including Google tracking services and third-party services, within the GTM interface.

Should I select GTM instead of GTAG?

Yes, GTM is the preferred choice over GTAG due to its user-friendly and efficient approach to tag management. GTM offers centralised management, version control, testing capabilities, customization options, collaboration features, and seamless integration with other Google products. In contrast, GTAG requires manual implementation, lacks version control and testing features, has limited customization options, and does not support collaboration.

Do I need both GTAG and GTM?

GTM and GTAG offer similar functionalities, so you do not need to have both of them. Using both will lead to duplication of data. 

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