Server-side tracking is becoming more and more of an essential tracking solution. In addition to retrieving more data by bypassing adblockers, it first allows you to regain control of your data. Indeed, GTM server-side will enable you to proxy Google Analytics to make it legal in the eyes of the CNIL but also to remove, modify, or add specific parameters before sending a request to an endpoint.
But it is essential to consider that there is a server in server-side tracking. Therefore, this includes implementing these servers and their maintenance with associated drawbacks in monitoring and upgrading.
Fortunately, there are solutions, such as the one proposed by the French start-up Addingwell and their range of services. In addition to offering a simplified server installation compared to the Google Cloud Platform process, their platform provides many monitoring tools to ensure that their tracking is working correctly.
So let’s see the steps to install a Google Tag Manager Server-Side account via Addingwell.
Start by going to addingwell.com and opening an account. You will then be prompted to configure your first workspace (corresponding to an sGTM container).
In parallel, go to Google Tag Manager and create a container. Please give it a name, then, unlike in most cases, select not Web but Server.
You will then see a popup prompting you to install your server. It might be tempting to choose automatic provisioning, but don’t do it! Your servers would then be of the App Engine type (rather than Cloud Run, which is more suitable for tracking and is what Addingwell uses) and hosted in the USA. Therefore, select manual provisioning and copy the container configuration code.
Now it’s time to return to your Addingwell workspace, where you will be asked for your container configuration code. Paste it and continue by specifying your domain and a subdomain dedicated to tracking.
As a subdomain, I use “msr” (for measure), which can be customized. However, I advise you to avoid words like “tags,” “analytics,” or “tracking” that could be flagged by blocking services.
Then contact the person managing your domain registrar and ask them to add this DNS entry.
After a few minutes, your Addingwell account will be configured, and your tracking server will be almost in place.
Almost, because you still have one step left in your sGTM container. Go to your settings and enter your tracking subdomain in the “Server Container URLs” section, then save it.
Your tracking server is functional so that you can set up your tags (such as Facebook CAPI or proxyfied Google Analytics 4). However, remember that Addingwell is not just a simple server deployment and maintenance service. You can also monitor the health of your server-side tracking.
You must go to the Tag Monitoring section and follow the presented instructions.
Add the Addingwell service account to your sGTM container users with Read, Edit, and Approve permissions.
Once this is done, you can confirm it in Addingwell and deploy the monitoring tag.
A new version is then created in your container with this unique tag. You have to push your new container version into production.
Go back to Addingwell and confirm that the tag has been published. You can then track the activity of your container in the dedicated sections.
[BONUS] Go further with ad-blocker bypass
Addingwell offers a handy feature: the bypassing of ad-blocking services.
To set it up, you must modify the base script of your GTM Client-Side.
Click on “How to setup?” in Google Tag Manager Web and copy the new scripts dedicated to the <head> and <body> sections, making sure to replace ‘GTM-XXXXXXX’ with your GTM ID. Then enter them on your website.
From then on, you will bypass the majority of ad blockers.
As you can see, using a service like Addingwell will significantly simplify the implementation of your Google Tag Manager Server-Side container.
Do you want to be guided through installing a server-side solution that respects your users’ consent?