Tag Wars: What The TagMan Acquisition by Ensighten is Telling Us About the Future of Tagging

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Today, on March 18th, Ensighten acquired TagMan. Details of the acquisition can be found on the Ensighten website. This follows a few other interesting industry developments to consider:

  1. The $27 million BrightTag received from investor and partner Yahoo Japan.

  2. Adobe’s acquisition of Satelite tag management system.

  3. Tealium raising $15.6M in Series C Financing

There are a few questions that come to mind following this acquisition. Let’s see if we can decipher what this means today, and how this will impact the tagging industry tomorrow.

Q1. Why?

There are three areas that can explain the TagMan acquisition.

  1. IP and technology that TagMan developed. Both companies, Ensighten and TagMan were pioneering agile marketing platforms. The addition of TagMan Marketing Data Platform (MDP) technology can help Ensighten provide marketers with the ability to manage and collect a clean layer of third-party and first-party tags to understand consumer journey. Also, earlier this year, TagMan announced a plan to roll out cookie-less tracking technology that promised to improve cross channel attribution modeling.

  2. Team expansion and hiring. It is not uncommon to buy a company to take their employees. There is even a term for that – acqui-hiring. This, however, does not seem like the driving factor behind the acquisition. According to the article in the Sillicon Valley Business Journal, Ensighten said it will grow from about 120 employees to 150 employees with the acquisition. According to the CrunchBase TagMan profile, the company has 100 employees, and the acquisition means that many of them might not be joining Ensighten. (Note, If you are one of them – WE ARE HIRING)

  3. Client list – TagMan has a very impressive portfolio of over 350 websites that have implemented their technology including Spotify, Virgin Atlantic, DIRECTV and Tesco Mobile. According to the Ensighten press release, these companies will not have to make any changes, but will have an option to further improve their tag management using Ensighten’s suite of products.

Q2: Who are the other players in the shrinking tag management field? 

Here are a few other strong players in the field. It will be interesting to see how they respond to the TagMan acquisition.

  1. Google Tag Manager (GTM). Powered by the company with nearly endless resources, GTM is getting stronger and stronger. A while ago, I heard people say that it was not enterprise ready, but now, GTM is covered under Google Analytics Premium’s Service Level Agreement. It has always been a TMS of choice among smaller sites, and now with robust capabilities and close ties to an enterprise-level analytics platform, it is often an obvious choice even for global enterprises.

  2. Tealium. This platform is now utilized by over 5,000 enterprise web and mobile sites worldwide. Recently, they also launch AudienceStream, a new service for segmentation and data distribution. Tealium positions itself as a solution of choice for the most complex tag implementations.

  3. BrightTag. Their recent partnership with Yahoo Japan poses a question whether they will be acquired next. In the meantime, they continue to expand and recently hired former Forrester analyst Joe Stanhope as their SVP of marketing.

  4. Adobe. As part of the Adobe Marketing Cloud, Adobe now offers dynamic tag management. Their TMS is ideal if a company is already using Omniture Marketing Cloud for web analytics and marketing, and this expands and solidifies their strong business offering. However, will the companies that use Google Analytics, Google Analytics Premium or WebTrends be inclined to use Adobe Marketing Cloud just for tag management? Not necessarily.

Q3:  Can WebTrends and CoreMetrics survive without their own tag management system?

There are four key players in the world of enterprise web analytics:  WebTrends, Adobe Marketing Cloud, Google Analytics Premium and CoreMetrics. Two of those companies have robust tag management systems complimenting their analytics platforms. If having a TMS is becoming a new industry standard, are WebTrends and CoreMetrics missing the party? Migrating CoreMetrics into a tag management system is an incredibly complex process. As the result, just this year three of our e-commerce clients (using CoreMetrics) decided to pilot Google Analytics Universal Analytics e-commerce tracking using GTM.

Q4:  What are the business implications of the acquisition?

  1. In order to dominate the video-on-demand market, providers such as Netflix and Amazon Prime started to create their own original content that could only be viewed on their websites. Are we are heading in the same direction with TMS? Perhaps, soon enough, certain tags will only function inside a selected TMS, thus giving buyers additional incentive.
  2. Google and Adobe will continue to integrate their tag management and analytics product stack closer together. Such vertical integration is a clear advantage.
  3. Impact of privacy concerns and regulations on tag management. My colleague, Andy Gibson recently wrote a blog post about privacy concerns wirth Healthcare.gov and how tags might be collecting data on the site. With changing laws in the EU, it seems that the winner in the tag management wars will be a TMS vendor that can help their client avoid privacy-related lawsuits. In fact, using tools like Tag Inspector and regularly scanning your website is the first way to ensure compliance.

Final Remarks

I know it sounds cliche, but no one knows what the future holds. The TagMan acquisition continues to demonstrate that the tag management industry will only continue to grow and vendors will continue to innovate to win customers over. At the end of the day, TMS’s are just a tool. And just because it is becoming easier to collect data about consumers with these tools, it does not mean that companies will know what to do with this data.

What do you think? Post a comment!

P.S. No matter what TMS you use, if you would like to learn more about implementing a tag management policy, we would like to invite you to attend a free webinar on March 26th at 1:00PM EST


Blog post written by Alex Yastrebenetsky

Originally Published On March 18, 2014
October 8, 2020