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Server Side Tracking FAQ: 50+ Most Frequently Asked Questions about SST

Server-Side-Tracking-FAQ

Getting started with GTM Server Side Tracking is a challenge. The process is complex, but certainly manageable with the right information and guidance. Everywhere online, such as on forums and social media, you’ll find a multitude of questions from beginners trying to work their way through the details of Server Side Tracking.

At TAGGRS, we’ve listed the 50+ most frequently asked questions for you in the Server Side Tracking FAQ.

All questions in this SST FAQ are divided into categories, which will hopefully make finding your question a little easier.

Table of Contents

General questions

Since we understand that Server Side Tracking can be a tricky process, let’s start with the general questions about Server Side Tracking first. In it, we try to paint a complete picture of what Server Side Tracking is all about and answer the questions it may raise.

What is Server Side Tracking?

Server Side Tracking is a new way of data collection. You set up your own server that collects the data from your website. This ensures that you take ownership of the data collected. Google Tag Manager is then called via this Server. This method of data collection/sending is called Server Side Tracking. For more information read our blog post on Server Side Tracking.

What is the purpose of Server Side Tracking?

The primary purpose of Server Side Tracking is to provide a more efficient, secure and reliable way to collect and process data from Web sites.

How does Server Side Tracking work?

Server Side Tracking deals with the flow of information that takes place from the website. When data runs through the Server Side, it means that the information collected is forwarded to its own server. From this server, the data is then shared with the desired analysis platforms. Much is done through Google Tag Manager.

client-side-vs-server-side-tracking

What is the difference between Server Side Tagging and Server Side Tracking?

Do you come across both Server Side Tracking and Server Side Tracking and wonder what the difference is? Don’t worry, these two terms mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably.

What is Client Side Tracking?

Client Side Tagging is the current data collection method where tags, or small pieces of code, are executed directly in the user’s browser to monitor and record interactions and behavior on a website, resulting in direct data processing and transmission to various analytics platforms. Due to legislation and tracking prevention, this method of data collection is working less and less well.

What is the difference between Server Side Tracking and Client Side Tracking?

Client Side Tagging is the current method of data collection. Server Side Tracking is the new method. With Server Side Tracking, an additional link comes in between – the server.

AdvantageClient Side TrackingServer Side Tracking
Page speedSlowQuick
Data ProtectionLowHigh
Data checkLowHigh
Resistance to AdBlockersLowHigh
CostFreePaid
SettingSimpleTrickier
FunctionalityHighEmerging

What can I do with Server Side Tracking?

Server Side Tracking offers a wide range of capabilities for collecting and processing website data, allowing organizations to gain advanced insights about user behavior, exert better control over data, and better ensure user privacy.

Who should use Server Side Tracking?

Server Side Tracking is of interest to various types of organizations. First, high-traffic websites benefit because they can gain more detailed insights into their visitors’ behavior through more efficient data collection. Companies that rely heavily on online marketing, such as e-commerce platforms, find in Server Side Tracking a valuable tool for accurate conversion tracking. In addition, it is an important technology for organizations seeking to comply with privacy laws, such as the GDPR, because it offers greater control over the data collected and its processing. Server Side Tracking is also useful for businesses looking to improve their Web site performance and user experience, as it can reduce load time by moving data processing to the server.

Do clients with small ad budgets also need server-side tracking?

Server-side tracking is essential for anyone collecting data online. The value of server-side tracking increases as more data is collected. As third-party cookies are phased out, it will become necessary for anyone who wants to continue collecting data to eventually switch to server-side tracking.

Is Server Side Tracking the future?

Server Side Tracking is increasingly seen as an important development in the world of digital data collection and analysis. Although no one can see into the future, there are strong indications that it will play an important role in the future.

Do you need consent for Server Side Tracking?

You do not need permission to send data Server Side. Are you currently using Consent Mode V2 in GTM? Then you will have to set this up Server Side, though.

Does Server Side Tracking work with Cookies?

Server Side Tracking uses First Party Cookies instead of Third-party Cookies, which ensures that the data remains the property of the user. This approach ensures control over the data, as First-party Cookies are directly connected to the user’s own domain, unlike Third-party Cookies that come from external sources.

Why isn’t everyone using Server Side Tracking yet?

Complexity plays a role. Setting up tags, triggers and variables for SST is less well documented than for traditional methods, making the process more complicated. There is also the cost. SST via Google Tag Manager requires server space, which incurs costs. This while the current method is free.

Is there a roadmap to get started with Server Side Tracking

At TAGGRS help you get started with Server Side Tracking with a comprehensive SST checklist.

TAGGRS server-side tracking checklist

Do you need a lot of technical knowledge to set up Server Side Tracking?

Despite being a technical matter, we believe that anyone can install Server Side Tracking. We have written a blog for each implementation process that explains step by step how to set up Server Side.

Are there any case studies available on successful implementations of Server Side Tracking?

There are many case studies available that demonstrate successful implementations of Server Side Tracking. For more details and insights, check out our case study page.

What are browser tracking prevention mechanisms?

Browser Tracking prevention mechanisms are designed to limit or prevent tracking of user activity across multiple sites. These features are aimed at protecting user privacy by minimizing the amount of data that trackers can collect. Google is launching the “Tracking Protection” feature in Chrome on Jan. 4, which blocks access to third-party cookies for a select group of users. This is an initial test for the Privacy Sandbox, aimed at reducing third-party cookie use. The short-term impact is limited, but the test offers insight into the future impact on websites and marketers that rely on these cookies.

Does Google Tag Manager Server Container save data about visitors?

Google Tag Manager does not function as a storage for visitor information, but rather facilitates the transfer of data to external tools (third party). One possible approach for data storage would be to deliberately create Regex or Lookup tables that link user IDs to specific user data. However, this would mean saving sensitive, personally identifiable information within GTM, which is against Google’s terms of service. So if you go this route, with or without regard to the GDPR, you will run into problems.

Questions about the benefits of Server Side Tracking

These questions and answers are intended to provide a good understanding of the many benefits of Server Side Tracking.

What are the benefits of Server Side Tracking?

Server Side Tracking brings multiple benefits, such as increasing the amount of data collected and improvement in data quality, while also helping to comply with GDPR regulations. Check out our blog on all the benefits of Server Side Tracking to learn more.

Does Server Side Tracking help against the disappearance of Third-party Cookies?

With the Chrome Third-Party Cookie phase-out, Server Side Tracking offers a solution by using First-party data. This reduces reliance on third-party cookies and adapts to new browser restrictions and regulations, making it a reliable and privacy-friendly data collection method.

Does Server Side Tracking have a positive impact on page speed?

Server Side Tracking has a positive impact on page speed because you need to load fewer scripts, the loading time of the website becomes better. We tested this difference between Client and Server Side pagespeed for several clients.

Does Server Side Tracking help against ad blockers?

Server Side Tracking is effective against adblockers. It moves data collection from the browser to the server, making it less detectable by adblockers. This ensures that essential data for advertisements can still be collected and transmitted. The TAGGRS Enhanced Tracking Script further optimizes this by making the standard Google Tag Manager script less recognizable to adblockers.

ad-blockers-block-gtm-script-code

Do you extend Cookie duration by using Server Side Tracking?

TAGGRS Cookie Recovery 16.4 or newer allows you to extend the life of cookies. This feature saves a unique user ID as an ITP-compliant first-party cookies. Upon a visit, this cookie is checked and, if necessary, marketing cookies are restored. This extends the effective life of cookies, which is essential for accurate tracking and attribution in marketing campaigns.

Does Server Side Tracking have a positive impact on a website’s SEO score?

Server Side Tracking can indeed have a positive impact on SEO. This method speeds up your website by reducing the amount of code on the client side, resulting in faster load times and better user experiences, both crucial for SEO. In addition, it helps bypass ad blockers, preserving the integrity of your data for more effective SEO strategies. With the accurate data provided by Server Side Tracking, you can fine-tune your SEO strategy, leading to better rankings and optimization of your website performance. This approach allows you to make more informed decisions, maximizing the efficiency of your SEO efforts.

Does Server Side Tracking help ensure that all orders from my webshop match the number of orders in GA4?

Server Side Tracking is an effective method to increase the amount of measurable GA4 data. This is made possible by two important features the first is bypassing Ad Blockers: Many users install ad blockers that block tracking mechanisms such as GA4, Meta and Google Ads cookies. Server Side Tracking helps bypass these blockages, making more data available for analysis. The second reason is navigating past Browser Tracking Prevention: Browsers such as Safari, Firefox, Edge and Brave have tracking prevention mechanisms that attempt to limit tracking of user activity across different sites. Server Side Tracking makes it possible to circumvent these limitations as well, because the data stream sent to the server is not affected by these browser features.

Are you getting more conversions by Server Side Tracking?

Server Side Tracking increases reported conversions. Although tracking an sich does not increase conversions, AdBlockers, Safari’s ITP’s and iOS’s ATT reduce the effectiveness of traditional tracking methods. Server Side Tracking can circumvent these obstacles, resulting in an increase in reported conversions at data endpoints. Statistics show an average of 20% more activity reported on Facebook after implementing the conversion API, and 7 to 16% more by avoiding adblockers.

Questions about SST costs

These questions provide insight into the various cost aspects of Server Side Tracking. In it, we cover topics such as what the costs are and how the costs are calculated. Our goal is to give you a clear and transparent overview of the financial considerations so you can make an informed decision and not run into unexpected costs when implementing Server Side Tracking in your projects.

Is Server Side Tracking free?

Server Side Tracking is not free. In many cases, it is necessary to pay to collect Server Side information. TAGGRS, on the other hand, does offer a free starter subscription where you can start up to 10,000 requests for free.

How much does Server Side Tracking cost?

The cost of Server Side Tracking is mainly linked to the server that acts as a conduit for the data flow towards the relevant platforms. This requires hosting server space. TAGGRS puts together packages based on the volume of requests to provide a customized solution. Use our price calculator to easily calculate which category you fall into.

server-side

On what basis are costs calculated?

Based on the total number of requests per month. This number is a direct result of events on your website, including pageviews, and the use of data clients within Google Tag Manager (gtm.js, analytics.js, gtag.js etc.). Learn more about the cost of Server Side Tracking.

Installation Questions

These questions focus on possible situations and challenges you may encounter while installing Server Side Tracking. From basic installation questions to advanced configuration questions.

How do you implement Server Side Tracking?

By following our blogs and instructional videos and tempos, you can implement Server Side Tracking relatively easily.

Can you use Server Side Tracking without Google Tag Manager?

Theoretically, yes, but then you have to set up your own tag structure and this is not possible for almost anyone. Suppose you have a few million lying around for your own tag structure then it can be done ;).

What you need for Server Side Tracking

A Website, Google Tag Manager and, of course, a TAGGRS account. Want more information on what you need for Server Side Tracking or want to get started with Server Side Tracking read our comprehensive SST manual

How can I test if I have Server Side Tracking set up correctly?

There are several ways to test whether you have Server Side Tracking set up properly. For example with Facebook, you can check this in the business manager. Check out our page on Server Side Tracking testing for more information.

facebook-conversion-api-vs-browser-events-events-manager

Do I have to reset everything in Google Tag Manager when using Server Side Tracking?

Server Side Tracking comes on top of the existing setup. You can continue with what you have already built with Google Tag Manager. Tags, triggers and variables that you have already created can be changed so that they also work for Server Side Tracking.

How do you find out if Server Side Tracking actually produces more data?

TAGGRS clearly displays the effects of Server Side Tracking in a Server Side Analytics dashboard, this allows you to see exactly how much additional data you get from Server Side Tracking and determine if it works for you.

Server Side Analytics - Measure the impact of Server Side Tracking with TAGGRS

Does Server Side Tracking take a lot of time to set up?

This of course depends on experience, and the number of things to be measured. With little experience, this can be a time-consuming process. With more experience, this generally goes fairly smoothly. TAGGRS also has blogs and instructional videos to implement Server Side Tracking. Should you completely outsource it please feel free to contact us.

Is Server Side Tracking setup difficult?

Setting up Server Side Tracking can be considered cumbersome. For this reason, we have extensive blogs and videos on our website and take you all the way through the installation process. We also have GTM Templates that you can easily copy to reduce the chance of errors.

taggrs-youtube-videos-server-side-tracking-set-up

What are the most common integration mistakes when setting up Server Side Tracking?

The most common errors in setting up Server Side Tracking are covered in detail in the TAGGRS Debug Series. This series goes deep into typical pitfalls such as configuration errors, improper use of variables, and inadequate testing of tags.

Also, can you run Server Side only?

An often asked question is, “Can you use only server side?” The answer is yes, basically you can only implement server-side. For example, with Facebook, it is possible to do server-side measurements only. However, for the most accurate and complete data, we currently recommend a combination of both client-side and server-side measurements.

In fact, Server Side comes on top of your existing setup (server side). It is likely that this form of data collection (server-side) will eventually become the standard with the phasing out of third-party cookies.

Conclusion

The Server Side Tracking FAQ is designed for the beginners just taking their first steps into the Server Side world.

This list is far from complete, but we hope most of the frequently asked questions have been answered. TAGGRS is looking forward to all feedback. Do you have another question? Then send it in through our support and we’ll try to help you the best we can.


About the author

Ate Keurentjes

Ate Keurentjes

Server Side Tracking Specialist at TAGGRS

Ate Keurentjes is a Server Side Tracking specialist at TAGGRS. He has experience with various Google Tag Manager concepts. Keurentjes has been editing and writing about the latest developments and trends in data collection / Server side tracking since 2023.

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