From the pre-digital world to now, one thing’s certain: It was really hard to track customer behavior before computers entered the playing field. Companies could assess the effectiveness of their ads back then with voluntary consumer surveys…but those could only give us part of the story.
The digital age finally broke open a world of tracking that can see the big picture. From the birth of online tagging into the present day, Adobe’s been working to develop tracking solutions that stay at the forefront—a road that’s gained them valuable learnings along the way.
Now, Adobe offers one of the most promising futures in data tracking platforms, and you won’t want to miss it.
Adobe’s Tag Management Journey
Only some of you may remember that the original Adobe’s tag management solution was simply called Adobe Tag Manager. This was before 2013, at the very start of online data collection solutions.
Adobe Tag Manager was one of the first mainstream solutions that showed marketers it was possible to know more about their customers’ online behavior. This knowledge kickstarted a rapid growth of tracking needs from the initial tag management software.
The rase for the best tag management solution gained momentum. To keep up with the evolving landscape, Adobe decided to sunset Adobe Tag Manager and start fresh with a more robust solution: Dynamic Tag Manager (DTM). DTM by Adobe was a product created out of Satellite, another platform that Adobe acquired in 2013.
DTM reigned as Adobe’s main tag management offering for eight years total. But over that time, Adobe found that marketers needed a tracking solution that could scale with them into the future. So, in 2018, Adobe decided that it was time for DTM to hand the mic to a new solution.
That same year, they launched DTM’s bigger, better successor - Adobe Launch.
DTM officially entered a read-only state in 2021, rendering any tags held within uneditable, and ceasing new tag creation. From this point forward, Adobe recommended that all DTM properties migrate over to Launch.
Then, also in 2021, Adobe decided to take Launch to its next evolution by blending its feature seamlessly within the Adobe Experience Platform. It’s now no longer considered a separate platform; but rather a series of tools hosted within the Experience Cloud.
What is Adobe Dynamic Tag Manager?
Once Adobe’s main data collection solution, Adobe Dynamic Tag Management, or Dynamic Tag Manager, was a platform that hosted and simplified event tagging. It was free to use for anyone who had already purchased Adobe’s marketing suite.
Instead of hard-installing code onto your website’s backend to track certain customer behaviors (which could slow down load speeds), tag code and firing functionality could be hosted in DTM. Even better, most people could implement tags through DTM’s interface without the help of a developer.
DTM had built-in integrations with popular analytics software like Adobe Analytics, Google Analytics, and Nielsen, making it even easier to gather relevant data on your customers. However, DTM struggled to provide solutions usable for the many other platforms and software solutions companies adopted over time to solve rising challenges.
To make way for its successor, Launch, the Adobe DTM sunset fully closed the platform in 2021.
What is Adobe Launch?
Facing a dynamic and ever-changing digital marketing landscape at large, Adobe knew they needed to funnel efforts into building a better tag management solution. This needed to be a solution that could:
- Scale with businesses.
- Be easily customized and used by developers and non-developers.
- Integrate with modern digital marketing solutions as they appear.
- Cater to both client-side and server-side tracking needs.
Instead of working to change and update DTM every time a new need arose, Adobe created Launch. The Adobe Launch tag manager would be a standalone platform built as an open tag manager. This meant that third-party developers outside of Adobe could continually add new solutions to Launch for anyone worldwide to use, making the platform highly adaptable.
In turn, Launch’s interface has also been significantly simplified for users without coding knowledge. Developers can help create new solutions to more advanced tagging needs, but even non-developers can still implement tags for unusual needs with open-platform-built extensions like Pixel Loader.
Currently, instead of functioning as a separate platform as it had before, Launch has been integrated into Adobe Experience Platform as a series of tools. And while the features are the same, they’ve simply been rebranded in the Experience Platform’s interface.
Here’s what these naming differences look like in the Experience Cloud’s Data Collection UI:
- Adobe Launch (Client Side) has been rebranded as Tags.
- Adobe Launch (Server Side) has been rebranded as Event Forwarding.
- Edge Configurations has been rebranded as Datastreams.
Launch’s original framework still exists as a powerful tagging suite hosted in the Adobe Experience Cloud. Marketers and developers alike continue to use it to implement agile server- and client-side tagging solutions capable of accurate data collection, even in today’s cookie-less world.
Adobe Launch vs Adobe DTM: Main Differences
Many of the differences between Adobe Launch and Adobe DTM have to do with the ease of use, ease of scale, and customizability of the platform.
As we mentioned earlier, Adobe’s main focus for Launch was to enable it to grow with businesses and continue to be a robust tag management solution for any integration need.
That said, here’s a look at some of the other prominent, more technical differences between DTM and Launch, from customizability to Adobe consent management, and on:
|Closed tag manager|
Only Adobe can make upgrades to supported software integrations
|Open tag manager|
Third-party developers can add new integrations and solutions as extensions
|Only one event type per rule|
Up to 5 element types
Limited testing environments
|Multiple event types in one rule|
10+ element types
Unlimited testing environments
|Limited available integrations|
Meant to work with Adobe Analytics, Google Analytics, and Nielsen
|Extended integrations (and growing)|
Built-in solutions for diverse tagging needs like Google Ads, Facebook, and more.
|Little in the way of consent management features||Adobe consent management|
Companies can request and store consumer consent
|No data security safeguards built-in|
Not considered HIPAA compliant
|Increased data collection security|
Compliant with HIPAA and others as part of the Adobe Experience Cloud
Migration from Adobe DTM to Launch
Now, we know it’s never a…shall we say, welcome change when the platforms we’ve relied on for years are sunsetting.
Although DTM had plenty of limitations, many companies depended on it as their main tag implementation solution and made it work for them. So, naturally, the thought of having to migrate to a new platform before DTM goes into perma-sleep can be harrowing.
We’re not saying that you’ll experience tracking difficulties if you attempt to migrate yourself—your team may be fully capable and prepared for the task. Or Adobe’s automated Lift & Shift migration process might do everything you need.
But if you’re not sure whether your team is prepared for the task, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
At Axamit, no DTM setup scares us, no matter how complicated it is. From experience migrating many companies to Launch, we’ve developed a sure-fire process for a smooth, fast transfer.
Curious about what the process looks like? Here’s a brief snapshot.
Create a plan and documentation
All migration processes have to start with a rock-solid plan. Your migration team will want to do the following:
- Evaluate and document the tagging solutions and integrations you have in DTM.
- Identify ways in which your tagging setup fails, or limits you (so you can fix this as you migrate).
- Create a timeline over which the migration can reasonably occur. (Expect at least six months, depending on how complicated your setup is.)
- Be thorough! You don’t want to cut any corners in this process.
Create a new property in Adobe Launch
The next step is simply setting up your Adobe Launch environment so that you can start building within it. You’ll need to create a new property for your site in Launch, name it, and enter the domain of the website where this property will function.
Install the Launch script on your website
When you’ve finished creating your new property, Launch will provide you with a snippet of code that you’ll need to install on the website where Launch will function.
Think of this code as a box that holds Adobe Launch on your site, and enables it to run the tags you’ve created when customer actions trigger them on that site.
Migrate your DTM rules to Adobe Launch
Here comes the hard part! You’ve already taken stock of all the tags and integrations you’ll need to migrate to maintain your tracking consistency.
Now, you’ll need to figure out how to replicate (or improve) those tags and integrations within Adobe Launch’s framework.
In circumstances where DTM setups are complicated, and your team isn’t familiar enough with Launch to recreate them effectively…things could get rocky.
This is certainly a case where an experienced implementation partner comes in handy, and speeds up the process tenfold.
Validation and testing
Once you’ve migrated all tags and integrations to your Launch property and published it, all that’s left is to test your rules and events.
Through this process, if you find that data tracking is off, you’ll be able to find and fix the issues quickly.
DTM was truly a necessary stepping stone to the version of Launch that exists today—through its lifespan, it taught Adobe a lot about what marketers needed from their tagging solutions.
By now, you’re likely more familiar with Adobe’s tag management journey from DTM to Launch and onward. You should also have a good understanding of the reasons you should invest the time to migrate to Launch (if you haven’t already) and the benefits that come with doing so.
All in all, even though migration from DTM to Launch is a hassle not everyone was prepared to undertake, Launch is better suited to serving growing companies’ tagging needs as they evolve and become more complex over time.
And in today’s constantly changing digital landscape, tools with real scalability and customizability are something every marketer needs in their toolbelt.
What is the difference between Adobe Launch and Tag Manager?
Adobe Launch and Tag Manager are both tag management solutions, but they come from different companies and serve different ecosystems. Adobe Launch is designed to manage marketing and analytics tags for websites and mobile apps, with tight integration into the Adobe Experience Cloud. And Tag Manager refers to Google Tag Manager, which works with Google’s marketing and analytics products.
Does Adobe DTM still exist?
DTM was discontinued in 2021. Adobe encouraged users to migrate to Adobe Launch for better tag management capabilities and integrations with their marketing and analytics solutions.