Being able to seamlessly gather website and media data into one easy-to-use platform has been a wonderful advancement in marketing technology and extremely important for marketers and website users when looking at consumer behaviors. A Tag Management System (TMS) is a solution that makes it simple for both developers and marketers to implement, update, and manage tracking tags and pixels across digital platforms in a user-friendly interface. Two of the most well-known and utilized Tag Management Systems in the market are Google Tag Manager and Tealium.

In this article, I will explain the important qualities of a Tag Management System, outline the pros and cons of both GTM and Tealium iQ, and review cases for utilization.

What is a Tag Management System?


First things first, let’s clarify what a tag is and why Tag Management is important. A tag is a piece of code from a third-party or first-party vendor (such as Google, Facebook, or a DSP). A tag is used for the purposes of capturing visitor data, setting cookies to help track users through multiple sessions, and integrating third-party content, while tracking site activity and media advertising metrics. As you can imagine, on a company’s website there can be an infinite amount of tracking tags that must be deployed. This is where a Tag Management System (TMS) comes into play.

There are a few key benefits of using a Tag Management System, the most important being the ability to collect data that works with thousands of technologies in one easy-to-use platform. With various tags and tag types in an organized system, it is simple to implement, remove, and update any tag technology. In the early days of site tracking and Tag Management, every tag from every vendor would need to be individually hard-coded within the site’s code. A TMS solves for this issue by alleviating the need to update the site code. Along with making it easier and more efficient for developers and marketers to use, a TMS can allow your web pages load quicker and can control how and when tags are fired. Finally, a TMS can also help follow ever-changing data privacy laws by allowing full visibility and agility of modifying and removing tags as needed.


There are a few main features that make up a TMS that can differentiate them from one another. Every TMS comes equipped with tag templates to help provide an easier way to implement tags, instead of writing out multiple pieces of JavaScript code. In addition to the tags that are placed, there are other components necessary for the desired action of the tag to take place, including triggers and variables. Triggers are what tell a tag when it should fire and record information from the site. They utilize definitions such as URL, page views, button clicks, and more as to know when to fire the tag. Variables point to data already present on the page via the data layer, JavaScript variables, cookies, and more. They can be used to pass back information into the tags and other technology like revenue or purchase order ID, for example.

In the TMS world, there are both free tag managers and enterprise Tag Management Systems. Enterprise TMSs provide more advanced capabilities, such as customization, data management, privacy controls, mobile application support, and much more. Finding which solution is best for your company is not as simplistic as it may seem. Let’s take a look at two of the top Tag Management Systems in both the free and enterprise realms.

Google Tag Manager


Google Tag Manager is the most widely used TMS, which unsurprisingly is well integrated and geared towards the Google Marketing Platform and its products. GTM is a free offering that’s easy to implement and set up on any website. Google is well-known for its products in Analytics, Ads, and Campaign Manager which are used across marketing efforts. This TMS is great for companies that already use these tools because they are so well integrated with one another.

GTM also provides multiple trigger and variable types with a wide variety of built-in options to choose from. Google Tag Manager utilizes “Workspaces” to save work often and allows for multiple users to be in the TMS at a time to work on changes together. One of the best features of GTM is the preview and debugging option to easily allow for testing and troubleshooting. As to be expected from the excellence of Google, their GTM has a user-friendly interface, clear support pages, and is consistently updated.


Since Google Tag Manager is geared towards working well with features from Google’s Marketing Platform, other options of tag templates for implementation are often not available or easy-to-use. This can be an issue when you want to implement something like Adobe Analytics or Facebook through GTM.

There is also an overall container size limitation within Google Tag Manager, which can be a huge obstacle when you have multiple tags or tags with long script to implement. Additionally, because this is a free service, when looking for help or to troubleshoot, the level of support via the help pages is not as high as a paid instance.

Tealium iQ


Tealium is an enterprise-level Tag Management System with advanced implementation features and dedicated technical support. One of the strongest features of Tealium iQ is the tag templates which offer over a thousand integrations across multiple technologies and platforms.
Tealium iQ also has the option for “Extensions” on top of variables and triggers which integrate JavaScript and load rules automatically into the site without the need to write custom code. This includes the eCommerce template and the Privacy Modal Overlay template. Tealium remains vendor agnostic since it is not designed for one platform specifically, like Google.
The Tealium Education portal, training, community forums, and support from Tealium reps give great options for finding the answers to any problem. Tealium truly shines when also integrated with apps and offline data with EventStream, in addition to Audience building and connectors with AudienceStream.


Tealium iQ is a paid solution that can be expensive for small businesses. The platform is robust and may not be intuitive at first review, creating extra time upfront to learn and navigate, as training is essential. For example, some of the Tag Management applications require a developer point of view and familiarity, while a media planner may be lost.

While the tag templates are extensive, adding new ones take time and is dependent on Tealium support. The use of variables and creating new ones, like click events, are more complex to track. Extensions within Tealium iQ can also be difficult to understand where to place them within the order of operations of when and where extensions should fire.
Tealium iQ is a part of an entire offering from Tealium that should be used to work together along with AudienceStream and EventStream to get the most out of the solution and avoid additional costs using a variety of platforms.

Takeaways for Tag Management

When to use Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager has been a long-standing resource and is the most used TMS in the market. As a free offering, it’s best to use for simple site engagement when also utilizing other Google Marketing Products. With easy tag testing and a user-friendly interface geared for marketers rather than just developers, this TMS is great for multiple accounts and when using five or more digital marketing solutions.

When to use Tealium iQ

Tealium is top of its class in enterprise TMS solutions, especially in the digital retail vertical. Tealium iQ is a great option to consider for organizations with complex tracking platforms, multiple websites, numerous technology integrations, and mobile applications. Tealium offers a large amount of tag template and extension integrations for best security.

In a world where cookies are becoming obsolete, Tealium offers the ability to collect, manage, and act on data across multiple platforms and keeps this data secure. Using Tealium beyond the iQ Tag Management is the best opportunity for site and marketing success.


Tag Management Systems are particularly important as businesses aim to collect more data about their customers and website visitors. That data is used to help deliver more personalized and relevant experiences. Deciding the best course of action for your data with a TMS will give you and your company the best solution to managing and leveraging this data. There are many benefits of a Tag Management System, be it Google Tag Manager, Tealium or another tag manager, that can enhance your company website, your marketing solutions, and the customer journey.