What percentage of websites use Google Tag Manager? What are they tracking? [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Andy Crestodina

The top 20 tags from the top 200 marketing sites.

Digital marketers track all kinds of things using many different tools. Tools such as Google Analytics are added to websites as marketing ‘tags’, which are little bits of javascript code and tracking pixels. They give insights into all kind of things about the sources and behavior of visitors.

These days, all those marketing tags are often managed using “tag managers.” The most popular is Google Tag Manager (GTM), which makes adding and managing marketing tags possible without digging into the code.

But how many websites are using Google Tag Manager? And how many other tags are people using? We had some questions, so we did a bit of research.

Methodology notes: Marketing tags are visible to anyone who cares to look at the code for any website. We used a tool called Ghostery.

Google Tag Manager and tracking tags

  • What percentage of websites use Google Tag Manager?
  • How many tracking codes are on the typical marketing website?
  • What are the most popular marketing tags and tracking codes?

Here is the breakdown of the top 20 most popular tracking tags on marketing websites… Any you’ve never heard of? Maybe you should consider them!

Here’s a quick summary….

  • What percentage of websites use Google Tag Manager?
    41.4% of the top 200 marketing websites use Google Tag Manager.
  • What percentage of websites use Google Analytics?
    94.9% of the top 200 marketing websites use Google Analytics.
  • How many marketing tracking tags does a typical website have?
    The average number of tracking tags on the top 200 marketing websites was 12.
  • What are the most popular marketing tracking tags? Google Analytics, DoubleClick, Facebook Connect, Google Tag Manager, Google Remarketing, Google Adwords, AppNexus and Twitter. Yes, five of the top ten marketing tags are owned by Google!

The future of tags and tag management

As third party tools make tracking and analysis more useful for visitors, we expect the number of tags installed on websites to increase.

“The number of web tags probably won’t decrease anytime soon. They’re used for so many things these days, not just tracking, but also A/B testing, chat, feedback, dynamic content, and so on.

But does it really matter how many tags you have? Most are dynamically loaded today anyway, so they don’t impact page load performance. Bandwidth and computing power keep getting faster/cheaper.

If something helps a business understand its customers better and deliver a better experience to them — with the important caveat of respecting their preferences for things such as privacy — why not use it?

The number of tags doesn’t matter as long as they’re all good/useful.”

 – Scott Brinker, @chiefmartec, Co-founder/CTO at Ion Interactive


We are in an era of marketing technology proliferation. And even when there is consolidation, the marketing tags still remain separate. Google owns half of the top ten marketing tags and shows no signs of consolidating them.

So Google Tag Manager and tag governance will become more important over time. And GTM skills will become more valuable.

With every passing day, GTM is becoming less and less optional… it’s becoming what everyone is starting to use to set up their tracking. GTM is something you need to understand and use if you want to future proof yourself. Not learning GTM is a conscious decision that you’re okay with falling behind in the market and losing your competitiveness.”

Peep Laja, @peeplaja, Founder of ConversionXL


Tag, you’re it.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on these trends. Is there anything here that surprises you? Any tools you recommend? Any tools here you’ve never heard of? Is your site late to the GTM party?

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Comments (5)
  • If you surveyed 200 websites, how can 41.4% of them use Google Tag Manager? 41.4% x 200 = 82.8 which is not an integer.

  • Very useful context to know of, thanks Andy!

  • I hesitate to submit this, but I think it’s very important to share because there isn’t much conversation about marketers being less intrusive, and encouraging marketers to be absolutely respectful of our data.

    After learning about these things a few weeks ago, I sought tools to block, opt out of or confuse these tracking tools.

    NPR recently did a 5-day series called “Privacy Paradox” and one woman’s story was powerful. She said she’d gone online to look for help with her alcohol problem. Then she started seeing ads for her local liquor store. At first it felt creepy. Then she got angry because the ad was for the problem she was trying to escape.

    So. Inside the idea of ‘future-proofing’ it’s relevant to ask about the quality of the data that’s collected, and about what people might do in the future to take back control of what’s being tracked about them and their activities.

    A deeper question is whether it should matter to the hardcore marketers that a lot of this stuff is unpleasant for consumers. I don’t suggest that marketing should cease to exist. But think back to the 1990s when telemarketers didn’t exactly break the law, but an enfuriated public eventually demanded a national Do Not Call Registry.

    • That’s a horrible story, Oz. Imagine getting MORE marketing for an addictive product after taking steps to get away from it. That’s a nightmare scenario.

      My advice for marketers and consumers is different, of course. Personally, I have low expectations for privacy online, especially in social media. People interested in privacy should avoid Facebook first and foremost!

      Here’s a tip: The tool we used to collect this data is also useful at blocking these trackers. If you’d like to have a more private browsing experience, try installing Ghostery into your browser. I also recommend blocking cookies. Most of these trackers (including the retargeters) work using Javascript and cookies. Turning cookies off will defeat them!

      • Andy, Thanks for the response!

        I’m giving Ghostly a shot and it’s pretty neat.

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