What is the difference between Segment and Tag Managers?

Tag managers were built before mobile existed, when companies were mostly concerned with tracking digital ad click-throughs.

Built on an older technology, tag managers inject a piece of JavaScript - or an ad pixel - into a website. They carry out rules marketers create for each tag, like firing an ad channel pixel when that network refers a website visitor. Every tag requires users to create rules. No data is stored, and no code is eliminated.

In addition to ad networks, today’s data-driven businesses use a variety of tools to optimize their product and marketing spends. In order to a/b test copy, nurture sales leads, email customers, and provide fast support, businesses integrate variety of analytics and marketing tools. Segment makes it easy to install, try, and use them all. Tag managers focus on ad networks, and can’t support modern tools without extensive customization.

Rather than “firing and forgetting,” Segment takes a data-centric approach to integrations. We collect your data, and understand what it means so we can map it to each integration correctly. You don’t need to set up special parameters for each tool – we do that for you. Segment works because all of these tools operate on the same customer data: who is on your app and what are they doing. Segment collects this data once, then translates and sends it to every tool you use. Because we store the data, we also have the ability to replay your historical data into new tools and give you acccess to your raw data in a SQL data warehouse.

SegmentTag Managers
Core CompetencyIntegrates complex tools with the flick of a switch, stores a complete copy of clickstream data, exports data to SQL databasesLoads JavaScript into webpages; inserts advertising pixels based on rule settings
Data StorageStores clickstream data in one comprehensive set; replays historical data into new tools; exports data into SQL databases and internal systemsDoes not store data; cannot load historical data into new tools; cannot translate and load data into SQL databases
Device CompatibilityTracks user events in mobile, web, and server-side environments. Server libraries include Python, Node, Ruby, PHP, .NET, Java, Clojure, Go & XamarinOperates on web; limited functionality on mobile; does not support server integrations
User InterfaceDelivers sleek user experience; automatically configures tools when users switch on an integrationRequires users to designate a number of settings and rules for each pixel to fire
Tool IntegrationsFully integrates analytics, advertising, email, customer support, marketing automation, usability tracking, error testing, and CRM tools with the flick of a switchManages ad pixels; requires custom engineering work to integrate any other complex tool

Replay is available to customers on our Business tier plan.


If you have any questions or see anywhere we can improve our documentation, please let us know or kick off a conversation in the Segment Community!