WebdesignJan Kahmen9 min read

The Advantages of Server Side Tracking

Tracking is a must. Advertising service providers store every website visit, analyze it and process it for individual or statistical purposes.

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Tracking is a must. Advertising service providers store virtually every website visit, analyze it and process it further for individual or statistical purposes. Only through appropriate data retrieval can precise offers be created for target groups and information about customers and their buying behavior be collected.
Until some time ago, only external systems were used for this purpose. Since August 2020, so-called server side tracking has opened up a new solution for data-based marketing campaigns for many companies, which has been hailed as revolutionary.

What is Server Side Tracking?

The more information service companies and product sellers have about customer behavior and trends, the better they can place offers and outperform competitors. Until now, the only way to collect the necessary data was through web browsers using cookies or IP addresses. This data was then passed on to analytics tool systems or tracking codes.
But there is another way. Since fall 2020, public beta of the server side tag management can be accessed in Google Tag Manager. Just in time: just under a year later, iOS and Firefox discontinued pixel-based tracking. Chrome has also announced the phase-out of support for third-party pixels.
This increases wastage when targeting customers. In addition, user data can increasingly be intercepted on its way to external analysis systems. And this is due to adblockers and intelligent or enhanced tracking prevention (ITP/ETP). This is a major disadvantage for companies, who are thus unable to fully evaluate the interactions of their website visitors.
With server side tracking, these problems can be solved. It is true that web tagging remains in place. However, the user data is collected directly on the server side in systems such as Google Tag Manager instead of via web browsers.
Note: The prerequisite for server-side tracking is the creation of a Google Cloud Platform. In this respect, server side tracking can also be found sporadically under the name "cloud provisioning" or "first-party collector".

The advantages of Server Side Tracking at a Glance

Server Side Analytics Tracking puts an end to the search for the optimal solution for complete data collection on websites. Without cumbersome links to external strategic-relevant data analysis systems, direct data collection offers numerous plus points.

Secured Customer Data

Connection issues, data loss and adblockers are a thing of the past. By placing tracking tags in secure server containers, companies gain maximum control and the highest reliability. They can immediately decide

  • what data is collected
  • where the information should be

should be forwarded.
The encrypted transmission of confidential data prevents access by third parties.

Precise Data Collection

By integrating desired social media channels, cross-site tracking can enrich customer data and optimize web analytics. Precise targets enable individual control of the data flow and customized processing of incoming information.

Maximum device and application performance

Google Web Vitals confirm it: response speeds and load times of websites without tracking pixels are streets ahead of client side tracking. The reason: the cumbersome implementation of each JavaScript tag in the web page source code is eliminated. With server side tracking, the internal manager manages all tags, while the client device processing overhead falls to a cloud.
Users benefit from faster application, businesses from increased conversion rates and improved search engine ranking.

More data with improved quality

Just as Google Lighthouse can help improve the quality of websites, server-side tracking provides increased data quality. This is because in their own
web browsers, Internet users can use ITP, ETP or adblockers to block client-side tracking by websites. The tracking behavior of the company's internal system manager during server-side tracking, on the other hand, is not detected by Mozilla technologies. This is a significant gain for companies in both qualitative and quantitative terms.
Note: Server Side Tracking does not use cookies or debugging tools. Accordingly, when the website is called up, there is no automatic indication of tracking. Nevertheless, the storage and further processing of personal data is only permitted with the user's consent. Transparency in compliance with data protection laws can be achieved by voluntarily implementing cookie banners.

Server-side tracking versus client-side tracking

Data transfer to analysis platforms can therefore take place in two ways: Through client-side tracking and server-side tracking.
Client-side tracking
Client-side data delivery takes place on user devices through tracking tags. They capture incoming data and send it directly to an external analysis station. Direct access to user-specific data enables

  • customized ad placements or personalizations for increased customer engagement
  • data transfers at low cost
  • easy installations of the required code snippets by copy & paste

The disadvantage of client-side trackers is that they are easily blocked by ad blockers or other blocking systems. This loss of data prevents companies from efficiently targeting their future actions. Server side tracking offers the optimal solution here.

Server Side Tracking

Server side tracking captures incoming data through central server systems at cloud-based storage locations and forwards it from there to analysis stations. A tracking process that browsers do not recognize.

Client-side and server-side TAG management.

For maximum efficiency, it is important to professionally manage the required tracking tags. Differences in client-side and server-side tagging become apparent here as well.

Tag management on the client side.

The trouble-free transmission of user data from the user's browser via JavaScripts to third-party servers is the be-all and end-all for companies. The tracking pixels used are always triggered by predefined regularities.

Tag management on the server side.

Building on the client system, server-side tag management implements an additional layer. Before being forwarded to external analysis systems, the data first passes through the company's own servers. This guarantees faster data processing and higher reliability.

Is Server Side Tracking a Miracle cure for Tracking Prevention?

Using a company's own servers as reverse proxies ensures full control over the type and scope of data analyses. Personal data or IP addresses could be masked in the process - but companies are obligated to transparently document their tracking methods. They also require user consent to collect data. Although tracking prevention systems do not detect server-side tagging, it is important to comply with privacy policies!

Server-side Tracking - Better Implemented by a Professional

How is the conversion done? Server-side tracking is more than simple web design. For in-house marketing departments, installing such technologically highly complex requirements is hardly feasible without professional training. To keep up with the constant developments of the digital world, close cooperation with technology experts is essential.

To set up server-side tracking, it is necessary to have

  • technical programming interfaces for data analysis must be implemented
  • configure the data flow from the browser to the server
  • Data analysis tools created, perfected and automated
  • DSGVO compliance and full transparency must be ensured.

Tasks that, for a long-term efficient result that is flawless in every respect, can only be realized by experienced professionals.
Those who rely on the in-depth expertise and high reliability of professionals will soon be able to reap the rewards of their new tracking processes. Of course, this does not stop at the offer to implement server-side tracking. In SEA and SEO, corporate branding or content marketing, the use of experienced professionals is also guaranteed to produce successful company results in the long term.

Conclusion - Tracking with Less Data Loss

The innovative server side tracking is rightly considered revolutionary. With it:
Increased protection, control, quality, speed of data transfers.
reduces third-party cookies
ensures selected information transfers to the browser
A win-win situation for customers and companies.

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