Ensighten has executed a handful of Ensighten + AEM/CQ integrations in the recent past and we'd like to share with you its pros and cons based on our learnings and experience. To that end, attached is our own internal best practice recommendation guide to integrate these two technologies aimed to answer "which tool should I use to deploy my tags such as SiteCatalyst and Adobe Target?". We think the answer is pretty clear and we leave that decision to you.
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This document provides best practices on how to deploy your analytics and marketing technology tags using Ensighten Manage when Adobe Experience Manager (AEM/CQ) is your content management system (CMS).
These best practice recommendations are the outcome of Ensighten supporting multiple customers that are on both platforms and supporting the implementation and maintenance of their CMS and TMS projects.
As part of this document we also outline a number of advantages to consider when deploying your tags through Ensighten versus AEM, even for Adobe specific products like Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target.
CMS vs. TMS
Adobe AEM is a strong enterprise content management solution, and its primary purpose is to allow organizations to manage content and digital assets and customize the delivery of this content across digital properties and optimized for different marketing channels and devices.
Ensighten Manage is the industry’s leading enterprise tag and data management platform and was built specifically to deploy and manage your marketing tags and collect, own and act on your digital data in real-time, with support for any marketing use case and targeted at a 1:1 user level.
Each solution was built from the ground up to solve very different and very specific business use cases and as a result both platforms have designed their architecture, interface, workflow, and administration to fully deliver on these capabilities.
That is why we recommend Ensighten Manage over AEM to deliver all your tags and design and manage your data layer.
Page Centric vs. Tag Centric Design
Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) is optimized for content management and takes a page-centric approach for managing its content and pages, and ultimately, all your marketing data and tags. While being page-centric is the right design approach for content, it is less optimal for data and tag management.
The primary drawback from a page-centric approach is that it results in a “many to many” hardcoded tag to page relationship that makes it difficult to maintain and manage at enterprise scale. This results in a more complex tag implementation and makes it difficult to have a centralized view of your data collection and tag deployments.
Ensighten takes a tag centric approach built around having a centralized view of your data and tag deployments that you can then customize with an unlimited number of conditions and targeting criteria. This allows you to centralize the management and governance of your data and tags, while still delivering custom data and tag strategies based on sites, channels, pages, and users.
Adobe Experience Manager Limitations
In addition to the limitations around a page centric approach to tag deployments, there are additional drawbacks when you rely on your CMS for data and tag management, especially when that CMS is part of a proprietary vendor marketing suite.
Below are four additional limitations you need to account for if you are considering AEM for your tag and data management.
At enterprise organizations, content management systems (CMS) have historically been managed and controlled by IT. This is to be expected given how core and critical content is to the delivering of digital experiences, and how complex and technical CMS management is at enterprise scale. While AEM is designed to make it easier to distribute some work and responsibility to marketers, it will likely remain under the ownership of IT.
This is in dramatic contrast to tag management systems which historically is managed by marketing or analytics teams, generally with some level of IT input, governance, or support.
When you are incorporating data and tag management with your CMS, you are giving up one of the key benefits of tag management, which is the ability to operate outside of IT ownership.
Deployment Time of a CMS vs. TMS
As you may have experienced first-hand, there are few projects more resource and time intensive for an enterprise then the migration to a new content management system. Probably the only project that is more intensive would be an ecommerce re-platform. Typical, a CMS migration will take six months to two years to fully deploy within a global enterprise across all sites in all languages. When you use your CMS to deploy all your tags you are forcing your tag and data management strategy to move at this same snail’s pace.
Once again this is in dramatic contrast to deploying and managing all your data and tags through an enterprise TMS like Ensighten Manage. Ensighten only requires a one-time inclusion of our single line of code to enable full tag and data management capabilities across your site(s). Typically, once internal approval is obtained at an enterprise; Ensighten can often be deployed globally usually with a single universal template update, often involving a one-time maintenance release. Normally we are talking days or weeks versus the months to years of your CMS implementation timelines.
Proprietary Support Only
One of the bigger advantages of leveraging an agnostic tag management provider like Ensighten is that you are working with an open platform that is not bias to a specific vendor stack and that offers custom integrations, on staff expertise, and ongoing support for implementation best practices around all the industry leading vendor solutions.
In addition, With AEM there is no common data layer solution; which means that integrating data with non-Adobe tag technologies is not natively supported.
Adobe Cloud Integration with AEM Is Still a Work In Progress
This will likely come as no surprise to long time users of Omniture/Adobe products. Adobe’s track record of integrating their acquisitions leaves much to be desired and often results in limited solutions that are not robust enough to handle complex use cases without significant manual customization that developers must hardcode. This will be highlighted in more detail in the “Benefits of Using Ensighten” section below.
Benefits of Using Ensighten
The following is a brief list of some of the main benefits of using an enterprise tag and data management solution like Ensighten.
- Best in class TMS: Ensighten specializes in supporting all tags at enterprise scale without sacrificing performance.
- Marketer’s tool: Ensighten leaves the power in the hands of the marketer who can manage data integrations, advanced implementations, and control cost for (better ROI), without needing to be technical nor involving IT.
- Quick and easy to install: Full capabilities are available in a short period of time with Ensighten’s single line of code install.
- Agility: Make changes to the tagging on a page on demand; quickly deliver - or disable - tags, data, and Adobe Target mboxes as you need them in real time.
- Vendor agnostic: Ensighten Data Layer is an agnostic layer of data that works with all 3rd party vendor tags (GA, Core Metrics, Webtrends, Etc.) – not just the Adobe tags.
- Visual Tagger assistant: Visually configure data and Adobe Target mboxes in-page context without coding or needing to know Adobe Target specific syntax.
- Mbox Implementation Targeting: Save cost and improve performance by firing mboxes only when you need them and under specified conditions with implementation targeting.
- Mbox management: Each mbox deployment in Ensighten Manage can be turned on or off with the appropriate permissions, modified on demand, and are fully searchable with historic logging.
- Granular user permissions: Ensighten Manage provides full control of user permissions for both Deployments (Create, Edit, Delete, Deploy) and Spaces (View, Edit, Merge, Publish).
- MVT Utility Framework: Ensighten provides robust utilities for injecting alternate content, configuring vendor integrations, and handling content flicker.
- Big Data Augmentation: Using Ensighten Activate, all your tags can integrate with your own offline and offsite data to augment your personalization and marketing capabilities.
- App Library: Installing Adobe Target and Adobe Analytics can be done quickly and easily in a user friendly app. All app implementations can be just as easily uninstalled making it very easy to test out and compare other technologies, offsetting any vendor switching costs.
Ensighten + AEM Implementation Recommendations
The following is Ensighten’s best practice recommendations for integrating Ensighten with Adobe Experience Manager based on the work we’ve done and the experiences of our clients.
- Use AEM for managing your digital assets and pages, which are its strengths.
- Use Ensighten to manage your data integrations and tag implementations.
- Expose AEM’s client context data at the top of all pages as an embedded data source.
- Import AEM’s client context data into the Ensighten Data Layer, which makes the data available for all your tags.
- Install your marketing solutions, analytics and personalization technologies such as Adobe Analytics (SiteCatalyst) and Adobe Target, using Ensighten apps, wiring in data from the Ensighten Data Layer as needed.
- Modify your ongoing data integrations and tag implementations easily on demand with Ensighten Manage.
While Adobe Experience Manager provides robust CMS capabilities to the organization with some basic integrations with some of the Adobe products, it is not well suited to managing non-Adobe propriety marketing technology stacks which are all to common in today’s large enterprises. Using Ensighten, Marketers will be able to manage their entire set of marketing vendor implementations in a single interface at enterprise scale while improving overall page load performance. Working together, Adobe Experience Manager and Ensighten brings the best of both platforms to bear for IT and Marketers alike.
Ensighten, the leader in enterprise data and tag management, boosts marketing agility and eases privacy compliance with the industry’s first Agile Marketing Platform (AMP), built to meet the needs of enterprise marketing organizations. Ensighten AMP processes over a trillion tag requests from 30,000 Web domains across 150 countries, representing more than $30 billion in ecommerce for top brands that include Brooks Brothers, Capital One, E-Trade, Microsoft, monster.com, Sony Electronics, Staples, Symantec, T-Mobile, United Airlines and Walmart.