What is the difference between google tag manager and google analytics?

The following are the main differences between Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager:

1. Google Analytics report on website traffic data. Whereas Google Tag Manager can not report on website traffic data.

Through Google Analytics you can determine things like:

  • How many people visited your website yesterday
  • What was your website sales in the last 30 days.
  • Which pages people saw on your website
  • Which products were sold in the last 7 days.
  • How many leads your website generated from a marketing channel like Facebook.
  • What are your top-selling products etc

Google Tag Manager can not 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. It stores data on its servers.

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 etc.

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.

 

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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 can not track any users’ 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.

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

A Google Analytics account is made up of one or more properties.

Each property (a property represents a website or a mobile app) is made up 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:

GTM Accout Structure3

 

6. Google Analytics store and process data. Whereas Google Tag Manager can not.

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. You can not 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 can not 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.

 

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Himanshu Sharma

Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of Optimizesmart.com

Himanshu helps business owners and marketing professionals in generating more sales and ROI by fixing their website tracking issues, helping them understand their true customers' purchase journey and helping them determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

He has over 12 years of experience in digital analytics and digital marketing.

He was nominated for the Digital Analytics Association's Awards for Excellence. The Digital Analytics Association is a world-renowned not-for-profit association that helps organisations overcome the challenges of data acquisition and application.

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