23 August 2023

Why server-side tagging

Data centre

In summary

  • Server-side tagging is used to track user behaviour on websites
  • With the changing privacy landscape within the industry, server-side tagging offers a robust solution
  • There are many benefits to using server-side tags including better management of data collection and improving attribution via conversion APIs

What is server-side tagging?

Server-side tagging is a method used to track user behaviour on a website by placing tracking tags on a web server of your choice that you can manage.

The alternative to this is client-side tagging. It is currently the most commonly used way to track user behaviour on a website or app due to the ease in which it can be deployed.

Typically, when a business wants to use a tool such a Google Analytics to understand how users are interacting with their website, a tracking tag must be added to the website. This can be done in many ways, including:

  • Placing the tag directly onto the website by adding it to the source code of a page
  • Using a tag management system such as Google Tag Manager to deploy the tag
  • Using plugins from your CMS that can add tracking tags to your websites’ pages

What are some benefits of server-side tagging?

As more businesses consider their digital marketing stack solutions, the changing privacy landscape and the focus on respecting user consent, server side tagging is quickly becoming a robust solution.

While implementation is not as straight forward as client-side tagging, you may find that the benefits are worth it.

Managing your data and its use

The reason we want to adopt server-side tagging is to take back control of how data is collected and distributed to third party vendors. Managing this yourself allows you to be in control and specific about what happens to your customers’ data as they engage with your website.

Server-side tagging offers a safer way to protect end user data and preserve privacy.

Some typical use cases include:

  • Blocking marketing tags from firing for internal users which can potentially reduce discrepancies between analytics platforms and reporting tools
  • Preventing leakage of personal information by intercepting the data before it’s sent to third parties

Improved page speed performance

Server-side tagging moves the processing of scripts on a website to the server, taking the burden away from a user’s browser (the client). For websites with many tags and scripts running, this can significantly improve page load and site performance times.

Improve attribution via conversion APIs

At Louder, clients have reported a decline in marketing campaign ROI since Apple’s iOS 14+ update in 2021.

Louder has worked with several clients to restore campaign attributions for Facebook. This involved implementing server-side tagging using Google Tag Manager (sGTM) which directly communicates with Facebooks conversions API (CAPI).

By utilising sGTM, we’re able to send hashed customer data directly to Facebook in real time, resulting in stronger conversion signals.

Read about The Smith Family’s Facebook CAPI success story.

Enrich data collection via customer data platforms

For businesses that have multiple datasets for their customers, a server side setup allows you to enrich data being sent back to external platforms (such as CDPs) in a close to real-time way. This can help with granular audience targeting and personalised content.

Louder’s recommendation

With the ever evolving privacy landscape, Louder has seen client implementations be impacted by industry updates without them knowing it.

Whilst we recommend server-side tagging as part of a broader mitigation strategy to future proof your measurement solutions, it can be complicated to implement and requires a considered approach.

To stay up to date with the ever changing privacy landscape, we’d recommend partnering up with Louder, who are across the latest changes and will look out for how they can affect your marketing tech stack.

See below for related articles to server-side tagging and reach out to Louder for more information.

About Oanh Trinh

Oanh is an analytics consultant. In her spare time and often at the crack of dawn, you will find her swimming in Sydney’s ocean pools, no matter the time of year.