[Editor’s note: This article was originally published on infotrust.com.]
In a recent conversation with a media buyer at a Fortune 100 retailer, I was encouraged to hear about the changing perspective in how their organization approaches tag governance. For most U.S.-based companies who have limited business in the European Union, GDPR has largely been ignored. However, GDPR-like rules and regulations are coming to the U.S. very soon. Specifically, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) takes effect January 2020, and professionals in the media space need to be on red alert. As InfoTrust colleague Lucas Long shared in a recent webinar, American advertisers should be creating a tag governance strategy to ensure their organization is compliant with new laws.
As a former Googler, I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the largest advertisers and agencies in the world on their media strategy. I’ve experienced a lot of the complexity and clutter present across major organizations, but tag governance usually wasn’t even a thought prior to GDPR. “Tag governance,” in fact, was a term reserved for an organization’s security and policy team. (That said, if you’re in the media space and tag governance is not a familiar term, I strongly encourage you to check out this article from Tag Inspector.)
As Fortune 100 media buyer mentioned in our conversation, tag governance is one of their organization’s three key priorities for the next 6 months. Media teams, to me, are one of the most critical departments to focus on when making sure an organization is successful in a new regulated environment. I realize tag governance, compliance, and/or security may not appear to be the responsibility of the media department, but making sure you have a process and strategy in place prior to 2020 is absolutely necessary. It’s very likely (I’d be willing to put a bet on this, in fact) that your site has 20% more tags than you realize due to legacy campaigns, piggybacking, and different departments adding tags without any formal documentation or consistency.
So, what should you do? Here are 6 key steps you can take that will deliver 3 tangible, business-driving outcomes. By following these steps, you can become a true leader of change at your organization.
6 Key Steps for Media Buyers
1. Audit and Implementation
It’s absolutely necessary to understand all the tags firing on your site, how they are firing, where they are firing, etc. At InfoTrust, we utilize our proprietary tool, Tag Inspector, to provide a detailed report showcasing every single tag firing on all pages of our partners’ sites. After all tags are identified, you should remove any unnecessary tags and migrate tags to a TMS (tag management system) if needed.
2. Analytics and TMS Configuration
If you’re investing in an audit and implementation project, make sure you’re setting up your analytics implementation to meet the goals of the organization.
3. Testing, Validation, and Consent
After everything is complete, run multiple tests to verify that all tags, tracking, etc., are firing correctly. This should include users who give and opt out of consent. This is also where you confirm all appropriate tags are a part of your consent management tool.
4. Detailed Documentation
Don’t spend time and money without putting together detailed documentation for your organization so that everyone is aware of the approved/compliant tags and platforms.
5. On-Going Auditing and Monitoring
After you have a best-in-class site tag structure in place from the work above, it’s strongly encouraged that you put an on-going monitoring system in place. We experience way too many organizations going back to their old ways and paying for the same audit and implementation a year later. (This is my “plug” again for Tag Inspector, which can actively audit and monitor tags and provide alerts if something breaks or goes against your tag governance strategy.)
6. Tag Management Process
Whether you partner with a company like InfoTrust or manage your TMS internally, make sure you develop and communicate a formalized tagging process. If a siloed department wants to implement a new tag, what is the process to maintain compliance?
Tag Governance Business Outcomes
By proactively taking these steps within your organization, here are some benefits that you can expect (not to mention helping your team prepare for the many regulations coming in 2020).
1. Compliant Site
These steps give you and your organization the confidence that your sites are compliant with proper documentation—a great kick-off to your organization’s tag governance strategy development.
2. Accurate Data Collection
It’s common for organizations to see discrepancies between their analytics platform and their CRM system, or to have tags fail (for example, a Floodlight tag dropping off). By going through the above steps, you are cleaning up these issues and making sure you have accurate data to make good decisions to drive your business. You should no longer experience issues with “trusting your data,” because a proper data architecture and analytics implementation that aligns to your company’s priorities will remove doubts.
3. Improved Site Performance
Tired of hearing about site speed yet? InfoTrust has worked with countless organizations and has not seen tangible evidence that one particular tag can dramatically impact your site speed one way or the other. That being said, we’ve seen audit and implementation initiatives result in the removal of over 15-20 legacy tags from an organization’s website. When removing a significant number of tags, there is often significant improvement in site speed. One of our partners improved their site speed by 2 seconds after going through a site cleanup. You can learn more about how tags impact performance here.
Let’s Get Started
There is no avoiding the importance of the CCPA, and you must act now if your organization is going to succeed in the new media landscape. As I mentioned above, there are multiple benefits of going through this process, and it will prepare your organization for the future. Embrace tag governance now, because data privacy laws are coming to the U.S. Organizations who are prepared will have a competitive advantage.
Contact InfoTrust today learn more about tag governance strategies, or to begin a partnership with our team.