Changing the game with Google Tag Manager’s new version

June 16, 2015

Read time 3 min

Google Tag Manager is one of the most widely used tag management systems (TMS) in the market today. Part of the reason for its popularity is that it’s free, but an equally important factor is the frequency of releases and minor version updates of the platform. The development work is exceptionally responsive to the requests (read: demands) of the user base, and for those of us who have been working with the platform since the beginning, it really feels like we’re part of the development effort as well.

Google Tag Manager has often been blamed for not being Enterprise-ready. It’s clear that there’s still a way to go, especially in regard to a proper SLA, managing hundreds of tags, and access control levels for multiple users. But at the same time, it’s proven to be an amazingly flexible system for umpiring the unpredictable JavaScript race every single modern web page seems to suffer from.

Google has taken a giant leap forward in version development, and the new and improved Version 2 was released to the public in early 2015. Indeed, early adopters could migrate to the new version using a Migration Assistant tool. This tool will soon be obsolete, however, as Google is rolling out an automatic migration for all V1 accounts during the weeks of June.

No need to panic, though!

How should I prepare for the auto-migration?

You don’t need to prepare at all. The migration is completely transparent. Yes, it rehashes the entire data model, and it adds a lot of new features and UI sugar, but the application logic of the tool on the website itself is the same as before. Your Tags will continue to fire based on Triggers (formerly Rules), and these Triggers will continue to dig into the Variables (formerly Macros) you’ve been using all along. This fluidity has been tested and verified on thousands of migrated accounts, with no issues lingering as the auto-migration begins, according to the developers.

Even though you don’t have to do anything, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. These new and improved features alone should persuade you to leverage them as early as possible:

  • Built-in Variables, which replace some of the most used custom variables and take up less space in the container
  • Improved user experience, where Tag creation, development, and deployment have been introduced as part of a workflow, which is intuitive and guides you to make the right (and necessary) decisions
  • Auto-event tracking, which has been completely revamped to be Trigger-based rather than Tag-based as in V1
  • New tag templates, and many of them, with more to come in the future
  • Minor tweaks here and there, with a lot of cool stuff in the roadmap

linktriggerAn example of a Link Click Trigger, set to fire when the clicked link points away from the site

The fact that the user interface supports and guides your path through the container is very important, as one of the biggest shortcomings of V1 was its learning curve. Mind you, the learning curve is still there, as Google Tag Manager is an immensely powerful tool, but at least the UI will be less in your way now.

Where should I start?

If you’re still wondering whether Google Tag Manager would be an asset to your organisation, or even if you’re a seasoned veteran, you might want to take a look at Google’s revamped developer portal as well as the new support center. There’s also a new Google Tag Manager Fundamentals course at the Analytics Academy that should also be of interest to you..

If you want to plunge head first into the technical stuff, or if you want to see some really cool things you can do with the platform, I humbly suggest that you take a look at my blog, where you’ll find numerous articles, tips, and guides for GTM magic.




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