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Server-side tracking - Old is new again

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Server-side tracking - Old is new again

A high-level explanation to Server-side tracking is the ability to collect events on the server-side rather than client-side, thus providing a much more transparent tracking of marketing sources and the usage of products.

The business value of server-side tracking is very high. What if we told you that for some of the most pressing problems faced by marketers, server-side tracking could be the starting point of finding a solution? According to Adobe Digital Trends 2019 report, these are the top problems faced by marketers-marketing_concerns

What is the business value? (Why should you care?)

From the problems listed above, server-side tracking can be a solution for:

  • Performance optimization
  • Improved privacy
  • Qualitative data with much more control
  • Just for GA users– a much cheaper alternative to Google Analytics Premium/Segment/Tealium, etc.

There are some downsides too:

  • For GA users, it requires a technical implementation done using Google Cloud Platform. In other words, you need to manage another tech infrastructure.
  • It requires manual addition of features like bot detection, session construction, and bounce rate computation.

As you can see, the advantages far outweigh the additional work to be done. We are talking about significant long term benefits. Let us go over each of them in detail:

Performance Optimization

With each passing second or even millisecond in the case of the retail industry, the conversion rates can hugely reduce. This graph from Portent depicts the decrease in conversion rates based on the data from 10 E-commerce websites.

server side tracking 2

Moreover, a study conducted by Deloitte in Q4 2019 titled- Milliseconds makes Millions shows the difference speed brings to the bottom line: With a 0.1s improvement in site speed, we observed that retail consumers spent almost 10% more.

An important business goal is to improve page load speed, and Server-side tracking takes care of improving this metric. You might engage with an agency or a consultant to improve this, but there are quite a few challenges there. Server-side tracking can be the better alternative as it removes the need for third-party code execution on the client-side, thereby significantly improving the page load speed.

Privacy compliance and data security

A study titled The Future of Analytics by Forrester asked 750 decision-makers responsible for analytics, media, or marketing business insights what their major focus is going to be in analytics. They ranked User privacy and data management controls as the second-highest investment area in 2020-2021.

Safari and Firefox introduced ITP quite a while back, and Google Chrome is planning to follow suit to get rid of third party cookies by 2022.

So implementing Server-side might turn out to be a necessity in the coming years. While the threat of outright malicious third-party code is a huge privacy concern, the need for implementing server-side tracking has much more to do with the bottom line of the company as more and more browsers join the privacy brigade.

Through server-side tagging, ITP and Adblockers wouldn’t be able to detect and block tracking behavior, allowing you to track more users. More data means that ultimately the quality of this data will increase as well.

Qualitative data with much more control

With server-side tracking, you can enrich the incoming data with relevant information before you send it to an external party. For example, you can add product information, business context, lead quality score, weather information, or customer relationship management (CRM) data to the mix. On top of that, you can also send the data in different directions, for example, your data warehouse.

Setting up Server-Side Tracking with GTM

Server-side tagging in GTM allows users to move measurement tag instrumentation out of their website or app and into server-side processing via Google Cloud Platform. A GTM server container does not run in the user’s browser or on their phone. Instead, it runs on a server that you control.

The server runs in your own Google Cloud Platform project, and only you have access to the data in the server until you choose to send it elsewhere.

Server-side tracking is not cost-prohibitive. There is a small investment required for GCP, but the implementation of the infrastructure is painless. Talk to us to find out the inexpensive way to implement Server-side tracking.

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