Good Guy Google …
The good guys at Google announced today that they are giving away their own Tag Management System, Google Tag Manager. Since I’m not at Emetrics (where the announcement was made) I have been watching the news and responses over Twitter and I have to say it has been quite interesting. Responses seem to fall into two broad camps — “Good Guy Google” and “Scumbag Google” (with respect to /r …) — and since we have been covering and supporting TMS deployments for the past few years I figured I would offer some thoughts on both.
Good Guy Google
In one camp we have, well, most of the companies around the globe who have been considering an investment in tag management. In one fell swoop, Google has made their lives easier by far, at least when it comes to cost-justifying an additional investment in analytics … by simply eliminating the cost all-together. Whereas Google could have brought Tag Manager to market as a revenue generating service similar to Google Analytics Enterprise, Good Guy Google (“GGG”) opted instead for rapid adoption via their tried and true “trade you for data” model which has served the analytics offering so well.
What’s more, Google made the “trade you for data” very transparent in the sign-up process, giving users an easy to identify checkbox that allows them to deny Google the ability to use their data as part of the exchange. How cool is that?
GGG is truly being good in this regard, and although they do indicate under their Terms of Service that they will be using Tag Manager data to improve the tag management service, they explicitly state they will not share collected data without the user’s consent.
Good Guy Google for thinking about our privacy!
While I am still exploring the service it is clear that A) this is a pretty good first effort and B) that Google Tag Manager is lacking much of the functionality and sophistication of the established market leaders in the space, Ensighten, Tealium, and BrightTag. Des Cahill, Vice President of Marketing at Ensighten, posted a nice welcome to Google and a brief summary of some of the limitations the Google product has relative to Ensighten and others that is worth a read if you have five minutes …
That said, given Google’s demonstrated history of rapid application evolution and their long-standing commitment to Google Analytics, I suspect that Google’s TMS will quickly evolve beyond a good “entry point” into tag management to the same type of business-viable solution that Google Analytics itself has become. If I’m right, and hell, even if I’m not, Good Guy Google has changed the adoption curve for tag management forever by putting TMS into everyone’s hands, not just those companies with enough pain or enough money to make the leap.
Inevitably not everyone is happy to see Google come into the Tag Management space. As Cahill points out in his post, the handful of tag management options out there that are targeting the lower-end of the market likely just got the wind taken completely out of their sails (or sales, FTW!) And while these very few companies will point to more mature products, better user interfaces, more well defined SLAs, and whatever other FUD they are able to think up, it is far more likely that these companies are about to undergo a “forced pivot” … which is never that much fun.
And that sucks. Scumbag Google.
What’s more, this potential pain isn’t limited to vendors targeting the lower-end of the market. The “big dogs” have taken in over $50,000,000 in venture funding in the past twelve months, and I suspect that most of that was predicated on an assumption of the continuation of the same type of hockey-stick like growth in adoption and revenue acquisition we have been reading about. Now, even if Google’s service doesn’t meet the requirements of an Enterprise-class offering, it is likely that the TMS buying process for a great number of companies just became as complicated as … well … paying for web analytics when their is a widely adopted, powerful, free solution provided by Good Guy Google.
Scumbag Google, indeed.
Good Guy or Scumbag … it Depends!
Whether you consider Google a Good Guy or a Scumbag really depends on where you work and what your vested interest are, and honestly it’s probably too soon to say for sure exactly what impact Google Tag Manager will have on the TMS space overall. Still, I have long commented that the evolution of the TMS sector is much like the web analytics sector, only much compressed, and Google’s announcement will only accelerate that compression.
Now, instead of having five to seven years to build a great company and work towards the kind of million (or billion) dollar exit appreciated by Omniture, Coremetrics, Unica, and Urchin, executives and investors at the marketing leading tag management firms need to be thinking about twelve to twenty-four month exit plans. And, instead of having the luxury of time and a natural growth and adoption curve, the smaller, lower-end firms need to quickly evaluate their commitment to a sector that is about to be overwhelmed by Good Guy/Scumbag Google.
What do you think?
Do you think Google is a Good Guy for making TMS free? Or are you skeptical, thinking that this is the ultimate Scumbag move on their part? I welcome your comments, and to make weighing in even easier I have posted to comments below that you can up-vote or down-vote based on your own, anonymous feelings.