Google Analytics vs. Google Tag Manager

Your questions about the difference between Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, answered.

Published Categorized as Analytics

If you’re new to the world of web analytics and tagging, you may be wondering about the difference between two tools in the Google Marketing Platform, Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager.

To give you the long answer short, Google Analytics is an analytics tool. It lets you collect and analyze data about the sources of traffic and user behavior on your websites and the sections or landing pages on them.

Google Taga Manager is a tagging tool. It doesn’t store any data, it just lets you deploy cookie banners, ad pixels, and analytics tools on your website without needing the help of your website’s developers.

Let’s take a deeper look at each of these two tools to help you understand the difference between them. In this article, we will also address some of the most common questions about Google Analytics vs. Google Tag Manager.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a web analytics service that allows you to collect data about users’ interactions with your website and gain insights into what makes users stay or leave.

Google Analytics helps ad buyers, marketers, and website owners understand where users are coming from on their sites, how they explore and navigate those sites, and what content they engage with most.

Google’s analytics service offers a set of ready-made reports grouped into collections and topics. You can also create custom reports and explorations with the collected data to gain custom insights that aren’t available to everyone by default.

What you can do in Google Analytics:

  • Collect data about the traffic sources and users’ behavior on your website
  • Look at reports about the acquisition, engagement, monetization, and retention of the visitors on your website
  • Understand the demographics and technographics of the visitors on your website
  • View reports and explorations to uncover insights and trends

What Is Google Tag Manager?

Google Tag Manager is a tag management system (TMS). Essentially, it’s a tool that allows non-developers to insert and manage third-party scripts in websites.

These scripts are usually intended for advertising and analytics purposes. Some of the most common ones are retargeting pixels for Google Ads and Facebook Ads, as well as the code snippets for analytics services like Google Ads or Microsoft Clarity.

Google Tag Manager offers more than just the ability to insert code snippets, called tags, into your website. You can configure complex business logic, called triggers, so that these code snippets are fired only when needed.

For example, you can configure your Google Analytics and Microsoft Clarity tags to fire on every page, while limiting the firing of your Google Ads and Facebook Ads pixels only to the landing pages where you need them.

This logic can be based on a number of events, such as a page view, the loading of the DOM or the loading of the window, user interactions (clicks, scrolls, YouTube video plays, form submission), as well as custom data layer events and state changes.

What you can do in Google Tag Manager:

  • Add tags to your website
  • Create triggers to fire tags based on specific rules
  • Pass on data from JavaScript variables to your ad pixels and analytics tools
  • Read and write to the client-side data layer

Questions & Answers

Does Google Tag Manager Replace Google Analytics?

No, Google Tag Manager can’t replace Google Analytics.

Google Tag Manager is a Tag Management System (TMS). So if you have it installed on your website, you can use it to deploy Google Analytics and any other ad pixels or analytics tools you need.

Can You Install Google Analytics Without Google Tag Manager?

Yes, you can install Google Analytics without Google Tag Manager.

Google Tag Manager is just one of the ways to install Google Analytics. If you don’t want to use it, you don’t have to. You can also implement the code snippet for Google Analytics directly into your website’s source code.

Can You Configure Goals and Conversions in Google Tag Manager?

No, you can’t configure goals and conversions in Google Tag Manager. Goals and conversions are configured in Google Analytics based on the events that you’ve collected from your website in the tool.

When it comes to goals and conversions, it doesn’t matter if you’ve installed Google Analytics on your website manually or via Google Tag Manager because they have nothing to do with the method of installation of the tool.

Can You Have Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager on the Same Page?

Normally, you would deploy Google Analytics through your Google Tag Manager container.

However, in rare cases, the Google Tag Manager container snippet and the Google Analytics measurement tag may be implemented separately on the same page.

In such a case, your Google Analytics tracking won’t break if you also implement the Google Tag Manager container code snippet on the same page—and vice versa.

By Dim Nikov

Editor of Maker's Aid. Part programmer, part marketer. Making things on the web and helping others do the same since the 2000s. Yes, I had Friendster and Myspace.

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