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A simple guide to server side tracking

The phasing out of third party cookie is leading to many changes in the industry. 

Marketers, who relied on third-party cookies for their ads, are now looking for other ways to maximise their revenue, while still complying with privacy laws are specific platform requirements. 

One of these methods is server side tracking. 

But what exactly is server-side tracking? And how does it work? Why is server-side tagging safer for users? 

Keep reading to know the answers! 

what is server site tracking

What is server side tracking?

Server side tracking is a way to rely on first party data, instead of third party.

The more common type of tracking – client-side tracking – uses cookies and pixel tags to track the user’s behaviour on the website. Cookies and pixel tags can also help you in figuring out things like whether or not an ad has led to the desired action.

With server-side tracking, there is a direct connection between ad tech servers, like Facebook and Google, and the server that hosts the advertisers’ site.

This means that browsers aren’t needed anymore, since data flows directly from the advertiser’s site to tech platforms’ servers.

But how does this direct connection work, exactly?

How does server side tracking work?

The process is basically the same as the one with cookies, but there is one less intermediate. 

If cookies need browsers to work, because that’s where they’re installed, server side tracking gets rid of browsers and all the issues that may arise

This technology allows the flow of information from the advertiser’s site directly to tech platforms’ servers, providing the same details: what page the user clicked, what product the user bought and so on. 

Let’s take Google’s Server Side Tagging as an example.

Google has implemented Server Side Tagging in its Google Tag Manager and Tag Manager 360.

Thanks to this new technology, marketers are able to remove third-party tags off their site and place them into a new server container hosted in their Google account, instead. So when a customer interacts with a page on the website, third-party tags are loaded directly in the server container rather than the site.

In this way, the server container doesn’t depend on the user’s browser or device, but it’s directly controlled by the website owner.

What are the benefits of server side tracking?

Similar to client-side tracking, server side tracking is a good way to keep track of your ads’ conversion.

⚠️ However, using server side tracking doesn’t mean getting rid of cookies altogether.

This technology is primarily meant for ads, so you’ll probably still be using cookie scripts on your website. For example, you could be using cookies for your website’s functionality, such as showing videos or handling payments.

Some of its benefits are:

  • it’s reliable, since it’s mostly first-party data;
  • it gives you more control over the data you collect and its transmission, because you are the one selecting the third parties;
  • it’s more privacy-friendly, since there are fewer third parties involved;
  • it bypasses browsers’ restrictions and ad blockers; 
  • it makes your website faster, as there are less script to load. 

If you’re still figuring out a way to address the cookieless future, server side tracking could be an option to take into consideration. 

But don’t forget that tracking doesn’t happen for ads only.

There are many other trackers that could be installed on your website, and that you need to manage properly.

Not sure what your website is tracking?

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