In previous posts, I have highlighted that ad blockers interfere with much more than just advertisements. In this post, it’s important to call out the impact of ad blocking on tag management systems.
The most widely used of these systems is Google Tag Manager, which we have focused on in our testing. But there are also tagging solutions provided by companies including Adobe, Ensighten, Heap, Amplitude Analytics, Mixpanel and Tealium.
Why Tag Management Systems Are Important
Tag management systems are used on websites to achieve two primary objectives. Firstly, they help manage the lifecycle of marketing tags (sometimes referred to as tracking pixels or web beacons), which are used to integrate third-party software into digital properties. Secondly, tags are used to add functionality to web sites, video content, and mobile apps. Such functionality can include web analytics, campaign analytics, audience measurement, personalization, A/B testing, ad servers, behavioral retargeting, and conversion tracking. Even Chat support is provided through GTM.They also reduced reliance on technical resources and reduced dependency on IT cycles offering greater agility to business users. They reduced page load times thanks to asynchronous tag loading and are cost effective, an example being reducing the duplication in attribution commissions. Furthermore, They can control data leakage to third-parties and comply with data privacy legislation; do not track etc.
What Ad Blockers Do To Tag Management Systems
In our test we looked at numerous popular web sites, to see the impact of ad blockers on tag management systems. The following are three examples of how uBlock Origin affected Variety.com, Digiday and CNN.com. In all cases, uBlock Origin, blocked Google Tag Manager.
What Are The Implications?
Google Tag Manager is disabled on each of these sites and all the tags that should be loaded with GTM aren’t included anymore. So your site’s important functionality presented in GTM will NOT work and, depending on your audience demographics, this may impact up to 40% or more of the site’s traffic.
The net result is that blocking tag management systems can damage or limit the user’s experience and actions.
What To Do?
There are two approaches that can be taken to resolve tag management systems being blocked, one tactical and the other strategic. Tactically, consider not putting mission-critical apps in your tag management system but implement them directly into your website. The downside to this action is that depending on the app or script in question, in most cases it will still get blocked. The only way to truly overcome these challenges strategically for sites supported by advertising is to use permission-based advertising, that offers consumers choices within their digital experiences to support sites and give permission. Not only does this impact advertising but at the same time, it ensures that all the functionality built into your tag management system will operate correctly. As a last note, whatever you do, DO NOT try to circumvent an ad blocking client. You’ll only make a bad situation worse by annoying and aggravating visitors and damage your brand reputation.