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Debunking the FUD - Part 1

Posted By teedubya 1381 days ago on Marketing - By Nathan Dragoo, Director of Solutions Engineering, EnsightenWhat is the Competition Saying?The market is full of FUD—that is other vendors sowing the seeds of fear, uncertainty and doubt regarding our approach. They want to sway your decision using faulty logic, calling the hybrid client-server approach obsolete. I will attempt to shine a light on some of the allegations below. 1. The FUD: The comparison of the hybrid vs. client-side approach to the migration from log files to page tags in the web analytics space. Their argument: logs are akin to our hybrid approach and page tagging is akin to the client-side TMS approach.Response: First, the web analytics (tags vs. logs) comparison is fallacious at its core. One could argue, in fact, the opposite. Consider that analytics tags provide more data on user interactions than log files. This is due to the ability to capture interactions that don't touch a server (and therefore are not recorded in a log). What does this have to do with TMS? Nothing. Both client-side and the Ensighten hybrid approach leverage data in the browser while executing tags. The main difference is that Ensighten's hybrid approach doesn't rely upon the computing power of the site visitor to make a tagging decision. There is no bottleneck at the browser with the approach Ensighten uses. So, you could in fact argue, Ensighten's approach is more advanced and removes the performance limitations of the browser. 2. The FUD: “Why are new vendors, after careful analysis of the market, deciding to adopt the client-side methodology?"Response: Because it's easier. There is a much lower barrier to entry into the TMS space if you go with the client-side or container approach—because it's easier and cheaper. When Ensighten first began, the engineers put careful thought into evaluating the current solutions and the landscape and considered what was needed to meet the needs of the Enterprise client. Scalability was key, as was performance and reliability. The result of the research was the hybrid client-server approach. To the small online business, this distinction is less evident (and if you are buying into the client-side model, you may be well-served utilizing Google Tag Manager or Adobe’s tag management solution for free). To the Enterprise, the distinction is clear. Ensighten has some of the world’s largest brands deploying billions of tags. Brands like the Sony Store, Microsoft, United Airlines, Capital One and Staples all put Ensighten to the test. Can you fathom any of those top brands putting Ensighten in the critical path without fully vetting the solution? Our stable of Enterprise brands (along with our 99.99% SLA) speaks for itself.3. The FUD: “In the last two years, many vendors have entered the space and not a single one has adopted the client-server model…In all cases, new tag management vendors have adopted the client-side methodology”Response: True and false. It is true that no other vendor has adopted the client-server model; it’s false that all new vendors have adopted the client-side methodology (as described earlier). In fact, one vendor (Google Tag Manager) has decided to go backward and adopt the pure container tag approach. This fact alone completely refutes the assertion that “In all cases, new tag management vendors have adopted the client-side methodology.” In a blog post from another vendor, the previous quote and ideology was used as the primary thesis to argue “the client-server model will become obsolete in the not-so-distant future.” Google adopting the container approach is nearly the antithesis of that assertion. There are clearly various approaches to tag management, and no clear evidence that the hybrid client-server approach is faulty. At the risk of being labeled a pedant, the competitor is subscribing to what logicians refer to as “the appeal to novelty,” which is the claim that just because something is newer means it’s superior (solely based upon its newness). They can drink all the New Coke they want, I prefer Coke Classic. The assertion that because some new vendors in the TMS landscape adopted the client-side method proves it’s the best approach is pure bandwagon fallacy. Okay, off my academic rant for now. Bottom line, client-side tag management is cheaper and easier. New isn’t always better. Oftentimes, cost drives change—and sometimes you get what you pay for. Does anyone think off-shoring call centers is better (for the consumer) than the previous method of locally staffing them? Likely not. It's newer, cheaper and provides only a small derivative of the value present prior to the change. 4. The FUD: "Client-side is Where the Data is"Response: We don't disagree with that statement. Ensighten can deploy tags based upon any element on the page (including JavaScript variables, meta tags, cookie values, etc.) just as another vendor can. There are different types of conditional logic for tag deployment, there is URL based and then there are more granular scenarios. In this author's opinion, well over 95% of tag decisions (I.e., the decision of which tag to serve) comes down to URL (or a piece of it). Ensighten excels in this type of conditional logic—we handle it at the server level so that we only deliver the code needed for the page (a huge performance improvement). For the other 5% of tag decisions, we handle that equally as well as the client-side approach. As a matter of fact, we can replicate the client-side model fairly closely by adding all the tag conditions into a single global request! Client-side vendors don't have the option of mimicking the Ensighten approach because they have no server component. So, with Ensighten, you have the choice of which way you want to go (and all of our clients choose our method). One additional point, we have apps in our App Library where we can actually deploy a competing TMS, through Ensighten. The opposite cannot be said for any other TMS.5. The FUD: "In the client-server model, in order to take advantage of a richer data set, programmers would have to pass all the data to the application server, which adds more latency and weight to the request. This could also have negative privacy implications if the data transmitted is sensitive."Response: This is not accurate. While we are talking about "latency and weight" let's consider the client-side approach. The client-side vendor must deploy a laundry list of conditional logic into the browser, the browser has to sift through all of it, then request the tags needed. Each tag is delivered one-by-one from their server. It seems like it would be fair to say that this approach is prone to latency. Also, since each tag is delivered in a separate code file, you are quick to hit the maximum number of connections per domain browser limitation. That is to say, browsers impose a limitation on the number of connections per hostname (the average is 6-7). If there are 10 tags to be loaded through a client-side TMS, only 6 at a time would be downloaded concurrently, the other four would sit and wait for a connection to become available. Ensighten minimizes this by efficiently bundling code into as few files as possible. For tags that are served on every page (analytics, etc.), the code generator is intelligent enough (proprietary algorithms)  to bundle those global tags into a single file—so that on subsequent page views they would be retrieved from the cache.To touch on the "negative privacy implications" point a bit— anyone claiming that the data available in the browser being passed to a dynamic decision engine poses a security risk simply doesn't understand TMS technology and the specific scenario they're talking about. By its very definition, the data available in the browser is as public as the transfer protocol that delivered it to the page in the first place. Ensighten, like everyone else, supports SSL, on pages where content is secure, so is the Ensighten connection. An example of this would be if an attribution manager wanted to deploy different conversion pixels based on the cart total displayed on the page. Ensighten could grab that value from the page and pass it into the Ensighten dynamic decision engine or run a rule on the page to make the decision. Both routes are possible, and if we decide to send "$57.00" to the Ensighten servers for a decision, it'll be encrypted (SSL) regardless of the contextless and useless nature of the string "$57.00." When it comes to privacy, there is one more point to be made—data leakage. Since a client-side TMS loads all the conditional logic into the browser, that code (and the gems contained therein) is exposed in the browser to anyone who is looking for it. Your competitors could see which landing pages you consider most important (even those without links). They could see how you are breaking down your conversion credit, what offer codes are available to trigger promotions, identify strategic campaigns that have yet to launch (but have tags ready), etc. So, it seems as though Ensighten has the better approach—we never expose your tagging logic to the browser. Wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that Ensighten has put copious thought into the deployment of the solution to protect the data? The likes of Money Supermarket, Capital One and Monster have incredibly stringent privacy concerns, and they are all Ensighten clients.6. The FUD: "Reduced Point of Failure" with the client-side only approachResponse: Ensighten offers a 99.99% uptime SLA and has been at 100% on the Nexus Tag Delivery Network since inception. It is important to note, Ensighten doesn't utilize a CDN as its primary method to deliver tags. Ensighten built a tag delivery network from the ground up with a single purpose in mind—to deliver snippets of JavaScript. We optimized our TDN for tags (CDNs are optimized for large, static content). We leverage Terremark, Rackspace, Amazon and Microsoft Azure. We have built numerous redundancies into the solution and leverage Neustar's UltraDNS to route traffic appropriately. In the event that our Tag Delivery Network (TDN) goes down, we then fail over to the industry leading CDN, Akamai, to serve our bootstrap (single line of code) so that the visitor isn't interrupted. One competitor asserts that their multi-CDN approach offers better performance, but that is a dubious claim. We have observed that leveraging multiple CDNs often impacts performance negatively (we can provide data points). One more thought on the CDN approach, any tag change that you make could take a considerable amount of time before it is propagated from the origin servers to the regional caching servers. Ensighten puts content directly in front of end-users. With the Ensighten TDN, you can change and propagate a tag globally in 30-90 seconds.ConclusionSo, there are many things to consider when evaluating a TMS. Ensighten offers you the ultimate flexibility in deployment (synchronous or asynchronous, in the head or in the body) backed by our proven (and well-adopted) infrastructure and architecture. Others can continue to make claims attacking our approach, but just because they say it, doesn't make it true. Don’t fall prey to bandwagon fallacy. Evaluate the options carefully. You don’t want to choose a tool to simply deploy a tag; you want to select a solution, which provides a platform for marketing agility. Ensighten offers that agile marketing platform (AMP) with solutions to track offsite ad impressions, incorporate data from other channels, upload models, etc.As a final check, when researching TMS solutions, check some of the sites they are deployed on. If you notice that they are buried low in the page the majority of the time, that should suggest a lack of trust in their approach (in terms of reliability and performance). Do the same with Ensighten; more often than not you’ll see us deployed in the head of the pages of some of the most trusted brands.

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