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- Server-side tracking is not GDPR compliant
- Server-side tracking makes your site faster
- Server-side tracking allows you to bypass ad blockers.
- Server-side tracking increases the volume of conversions
- Server-side tracking is expensive
- Server-side tracking can work without client-side
- Server-side tracking is difficult to install
Server-side tracking seems to be an increasingly popular solution for implementing effective and privacy-respecting user data tracking. However, it is more complex to understand and implement than other solutions, leading to misunderstandings and misconceptions. Here, we debunk seven beliefs about server-side tracking.
Server-side tracking is not GDPR compliant
False! Like traditional client-side tracking, server-side tracking is legal. However, to comply, you must trigger your tags only when the user consents.
In practice, this works like installing traditional analytics/advertising trackers.
Moreover, the CNIL requires a server-side solution if you want to continue using Google Analytics 4. The tool has been made illegal in its initial configuration for data privacy reasons, and proxyfication allows for the purification of specific data.
If you want to learn more about the subject, we have written two articles on consent in a server-side context and the proxyfication of Google Analytics 4.
Server-side tracking makes your site faster
True! One of the significant advantages of server-side tracking is that, in theory, you only need to load a single script from your site. This script will bridge your browser and your tracking server, allowing you to trigger your marketing and analytics tags from your server.
However, this is only theoretical, as some tags must be triggered from the browser, such as the Axeptio tag or Hotjar. Removing the Facebook SDK or the client-side Google Ads tag in favor of a Google Tag Manager Server-Side implementation will save you loading time.
Server-side tracking allows you to bypass ad blockers.
True! Ad blockers can be circumvented through server-side tracking. How? First, understand that these devices block scripts loading with specific words in their terminology, such as tracking, tag, analytics, gtm, and gtag. Therefore, we will have to proxy the loading of these scripts through our tracking server. Your GTM library will be loaded from your server, not your browser and the ad blocker will be none the wiser. If you use Addingwell, our dedicated article explains how to set up this configuration.
Server-side tracking increases the volume of conversions
True, but… we are talking about visible events. Of course, tracking will not increase the number of user conversions. Many blocks, such as ad blockers, Safari’s ITP, and iOS’s ATT, make traditional tracking implementations less effective. Server-side tracking can circumvent these devices, thus allowing more conversions to be reported at endpoints. On average, there are 20% more events on Facebook by installing the conversion API and between 7 and 16% more by avoiding ad blockers.
Server-side tracking is expensive
False! First of all, understand that GTM Server-Side is free. You pay for server hosting; the cost will depend on the number of requests that come to your server.
Using Google’s App Engine servers will impact your budget by at least $140 per month, but solutions like Addingwell have a minimum cost of €70 per month. Spending several thousand euros per month on traffic acquisition will quickly offset this with the additional data collected.
Server-side tracking can work without client-side
Server-side tracking is difficult to install
True, but… there are more and more experts and solutions aimed at simplifying its implementation to make it accessible