Google Tag Manager vs Google Analytics – Key differences

  1. Introduction to Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics
  2. Key Differences
  3. Related Articles
  4. FAQ

In this article, I am going to talk about Google Tag Manager vs Google Analytics and their differences.

Introduction to Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager (AKA GTM) is a tag management tool provided by Google. Using Google Tag Manager, you can deploy various scripts (tags) on a website or mobile application without editing the source code. This way it is a very efficient method of managing various marketing tags like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Ads, etc.

There are several benefits of Google Tag Manager, as listed below:

  • Using GTM there is no need to edit the website code for every single implementation.
  • GTM allows you to test your tag before you publish it using Tag Manager preview mode.
  • Improved website speed since there is only one script running on the website; the Google Tag Manager container code.
  • You can implement advanced analytics using GTM.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a web analytics service provided by Google which you can use to generate reports for website performance, user behavior, etc.

Google Analytics tracks user activity on the website like pageviews, events, transactions. Google Analytics also provides details of how users are arriving on your website. You can track ROI for online marketing. It even helps know more about your website performance. Google Analytics provides the tools and support that enterprise teams need to get actionable insights from their data.

With Google Analytics, you can access advanced tools, like unsampled reports, BigQuery exports, and data-driven attribution. Google Analytics provides some great pre-configured out-of-the-box reports to work with for measuring site performance and acquisition patterns.

Key Differences

Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics are two different tools, each with its own unique purpose. In other words, these tools are not meant to replace each other but to be used together to maximize your web analytics capabilities. Here I have listed down the key differences in a detailed manner.

1. Google Analytics report on website traffic data, whereas Google Tag Manager cannot report on website traffic data.

Through Google Analytics you can determine things like:

  • How many people visited your website yesterday at a selected time?
  • What was your website sales in the last 30 days?
  • Which pages did people see on your website?
  • Which products were sold in the last 7 days?
  • How many leads did your website generate from a marketing channel like Facebook?
  • What are your top-selling products?
  • How many users abandoned their shopping activity?

Google Tag Manager cannot provide any such insight because it is a tag management tool.

A tag management tool is used to add, edit, enable, disable, or remove a tag from a website or mobile app.

A tag is a bunch of JavaScript code that is used to collect data from your website/mobile app and then send that data to a third-party tool like Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Since Google Tag Manager does not report on website traffic data, it does not provide any reports through which you can analyze the website usage data. Whereas Google Analytics is choke-full of reports.

2. Google Tag Manager is not a data source, whereas Google Analytics is a data source

Google Tag Manager is designed to send data from one data source to another. But it is not a data source itself. It does not store any data.

Whereas Google Analytics is a data source that collects various information related to the website, users, campaigns, devices, etc. via dimensions and metrics. It stores data on its servers and makes it available to you for reporting purposes.

Following are examples of other data sources:

  • Website
  • Mobile app
  • Data Warehouse
  • Google Ads
  • Facebook Ads
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Sheets
  • Excel
  • YouTube Analytics
  • Adobe Analytics
  • Bing Webmaster tools

Through Google Tag Manager you can send data from your website to Google Analytics.

Through Google Tag Manager you can send data from your mobile app to Google Analytics.

Through Google Tag Manager you can send data from your website to Facebook.

Through Google Tag Manager you can send data from your mobile app to Google Ads.

Get the E-Book (100 Pages)

CSS selectors in Google Tag Manager


Get the FREE E-Book (62 Pages)

3. Google Tag Manager is a container tag, whereas Google Analytics is not

A container tag is used to hold one or more marketing and analytics tags and their corresponding triggers and variables.

The following are examples of marketing and analytics tags: Google Analytics Tracking code, Google Ads Conversion Tracking code, Facebook Pixel Code etc.

A container tag can be used to deploy Google Analytics on a website. Similarly, a container tag can be used to deploy Facebook pixel tracking on a website.

The container tag provides all the functionality needed for Google Tag Manager (GTM), to run and deploy tags on your website. In order to install GTM on your website, you hard code the container tag on every page of your website.

The container tag cannot track any user interactions (pageviews, events, transactions etc) and website usage data on its own. In other words, the container tag is not an analytics tag.

The container tag is made up of two parts.

The first part of the container tag is placed in the head section (<head>…..</head>) of all of the web pages on your website and the second part of the container tag is placed immediately after the opening <body> tag of all of the web pages on your website.

You can find your GTM container tag by just a click on the container ID available at top of the GTM console:

Once you click you will get to see the installation code like below:

The following first part of the container tag is placed in the head section (<head>…..</head>) of all of the web pages on your website:

<!-- Google Tag Manager -->
<script>(function(w,d,s,l,i){w[l]=w[l]||[];w[l].push({'gtm.start':
new Date().getTime(),event:'gtm.js'});var f=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],
j=d.createElement(s),dl=l!='dataLayer'?'&l='+l:'';j.async=true;j.src=
'https://www.googletagmanager.com/gtm.js?id='+i+dl;f.parentNode.insertBefore(j,f);
})(window,document,'script','dataLayer','GTM-TXAAA');</script>
<!-- End Google Tag Manager -->

The second part of the container tag is placed immediately after the opening <body> tag of all of the web pages on your website:

<!-- Google Tag Manager (noscript) -->
<noscript><iframe src="https://www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-TXAAA"
height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden"></iframe></noscript>
<!-- End Google Tag Manager (noscript) -->

Google Analytics is a tag but not a container tag. So it can not be used to hold one or more marketing and analytics tags and their corresponding triggers and variables. However, it can be used to install Google Analytics for your website.

In order to install Google Analytics on your website, you hard code the Google Analytics tracking code on every page of your website.

The Google Analytics tracking code can track users’ interactions and as such is an analytics tag.

The Google Analytics tag (aka the Google Analytics tracking code) is not made up of two parts. The entire tag is placed in the head section (<head>…..</head>) of all of the web pages on your website and looks like the one below:

<!-- Global site tag (gtag.js) - Google Analytics -->
<script async src="https://www.googletagmanager.com/gtag/js?id=UA-56645443-1"></script>
<script>
window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || [];
function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);}
gtag('js', new Date());

gtag('config', 'UA-56645443-1');
</script>

The container tag which does not contain any marketing or analytics tag is called the empty container and is such pretty much useless. Whereas the Google Analytics tracking code is a complete tag on its own.

4. Google Tag Manager is a tag management tool, whereas Google Analytics is not

GTM is used to add, edit, enable, disable, or remove one or more tags from a website or mobile app. When you use GTM to add tags on a website, you get more control over:

  1. When the tag should fire.
  2. When the tag should not fire.
  3. Where the tag should fire.
  4. Where the tag should not fire and
  5. What the tag should do, when it gets fired (executed)

Google Analytics is a tag and not a tag management tool. So it can not be used to add, edit, enable, disable, or remove others tag from a website or mobile app.

5. Google Analytics account structure and user interface are very different from Google Tag Manager

The user interface of a Google Analytics account looks very different from the user interface of a Google Tag Manager account.

A Google Analytics account is made up of one or more properties. Each property (a property that represents a website or a mobile app) is made up of one or more reporting views.

A view is a profile that contains all or segmented data of a GA property. Each view is made up of several reports.

Following is the general structure of a Google Analytics account:

A GTM account is made up of one or more container tags. Each container tag represents one website or mobile app.

A container tag contains tags, triggers and variables.

Following is the general structure of a Google Tag Manager account:

6. Google Analytics stores and processes data, whereas Google Tag Manager cannot

GTM is not a database. It does not store any analytics or marketing data. Whereas Google Analytics is sort of a database (as the data is actually stored on GA servers).

Google Analytics process the collected data according to your configuration settings (like ‘dimension scope’, filters etc) and then report on the processed data. Whereas GTM can not process or report on the collected data.

7. Google Analytics allows querying of the data, whereas Google Tag Manager does not

In Google Analytics you can query the data either via the reporting interface or via the API. However, you cannot query the data via GTM.

8. Google Tag Manager can work without Google Analytics and vice versa

You can use Google Tag Manager without using Google Analytics. Similarly, you can use Google Analytics without using Google Tag Manager.

9. Google Tag Manager is not a replacement for Google Analytics and vice versa

GTM is a tag management tool and is used to manage one or more tags. It can not store, process, or report on website traffic data.  Therefore it can not be used as a replacement for Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is used to store, process, or report on website traffic data but it can not be used to manage one or more tags. Therefore Google Analytics can not be used as a replacement for Google Tag Manager.

10. You can install Google Analytics with or without Google Tag Manager. But you cannot install Google Tag Manager with Google Analytics

There are two ways to install Google Analytics on a website:

#1 You hard code the Google Analytics tracking code on every page of your website.

#2 You deploy the Google Analytics tag (aka the Google Analytics tracking code) via Google Tag Manager.

However, if you want to install Google Tag Manager on your website then there is only one method. And that method is to hard code the GTM container code on every page of your website.

11. You can integrate Google Analytics with other tools for reporting but you cannot integrate Google Tag Manager with other tools

Google Tag Manager cannot be integrated with any other tools for data exchange, however, you can use Google Tag Manager to send data to other tools.

Whereas, Google Analytics can be integrated with other tools for data exchange like you can integrate it with Google Ads, Google Search Console, BigQuery, Google Data Studio, Salesforce, etc. Using integration capability, you can have data from other tools in Google Analytics and vice versa.

To know more about Google Analytics integration, you can visit the following articles.

Related Articles

Frequently Asked Questions About Google Tag Manager vs Google Analytics – Key Differences

What is the difference between Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics?

Google Tag Manager allows you to deploy various scripts (tags) on the website or mobile application without editing the source code of the website or mobile app. You can implement Google Analytics using Google Tag Manager.

On the other hand, Google Analytics is a web analytics service provided by Google which you can use to generate reports for website performance, user behavior. Google Analytics tracks the user activity on the website like pageviews, events, transactions. Google Analytics is also providing details of how users are arriving on your website. You can track ROI for online marketing.

What are the benefits of Google Tag Manager?

Following are the main benefits of using Google Tag Manager:
• Google Tag Manager removes the need for editing the website code over and over again
• Through Google Tag Manager you can test and deploy tags very fast
• Google Tag Manager makes advanced analytics tracking possible
• Google Tag Manager makes tag management very efficient
• By using Google Tag Manager, you can improve the website speed

What can I track using Google Tag Manager (GTM)?

Using Google Tag Manager, you can track the following things
• Event tracking
• Scroll tracking
• Ecommerce tracking
• Cross-domain tracking
• Campaign tracking
• Sub-domain tracking
… and much more. You can visit the series of articles here: Google Tag Manager Articles

Register for the FREE TRAINING...

"How to use Digital Analytics to generate floods of new Sales and Customers without spending years figuring everything out on your own."



Here’s what we’re going to cover in this training…

#1 Why digital analytics is the key to online business success.

​#2 The number 1 reason why most marketers are not able to scale their advertising and maximize sales.

#3 Why Google and Facebook ads don’t work for most businesses & how to make them work.

#4 ​Why you won’t get any competitive advantage in the marketplace just by knowing Google Analytics.

#5 The number 1 reason why conversion optimization is not working for your business.

#6 How to advertise on any marketing platform for FREE with an unlimited budget.

​#7 How to learn and master digital analytics and conversion optimization in record time.



   

My best selling books on Digital Analytics and Conversion Optimization

Maths and Stats for Web Analytics and Conversion Optimization
This expert guide will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of maths and statistics in order to accurately interpret data and take actions, which can quickly improve the bottom-line of your online business.

Master the Essentials of Email Marketing Analytics
This book focuses solely on the ‘analytics’ that power your email marketing optimization program and will help you dramatically reduce your cost per acquisition and increase marketing ROI by tracking the performance of the various KPIs and metrics used for email marketing.

Attribution Modelling in Google Analytics and Beyond
Attribution modelling is the process of determining the most effective marketing channels for investment. This book has been written to help you implement attribution modelling. It will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of attribution modelling in order to allocate marketing budget and understand buying behaviour.

Attribution Modelling in Google Ads and Facebook
This book has been written to help you implement attribution modelling in Google Ads (Google AdWords) and Facebook. It will teach you, how to leverage the knowledge of attribution modelling in order to understand the customer purchasing journey and determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

About the Author

Himanshu Sharma

  • Founder, OptimizeSmart.com
  • Over 15 years of experience in digital analytics and marketing
  • Author of four best-selling books on digital analytics and conversion optimization
  • Nominated for Digital Analytics Association Awards for Excellence
  • Runs one of the most popular blogs in the world on digital analytics
  • Consultant to countless small and big businesses over the decade
error: Alert: Content is protected !!