Table of Contents Hide
- What is GTM Server Side?
- What are the advantages of GTM Server-side?
- What are the drawbacks of GTM Server-side?
- Reinforced legal obligations, a significant challenge for GDPR compliance
- Conclusion: Be prepared but don’t jump on Google Server-side
Do you know the new GTM Server-side tool? This new tool in beta mode from Google will allow you to deposit and manage your tags on your servers, not the user’s browser. But before deciding, consider the disadvantages and structure of your audience. This is our product news of the day.
What is GTM Server Side?
GTM Server-Side is the name of a new product that Google has made available :
- early 2020 in private beta for Google Partners ;
- in August in public beta… for the public…
Currently, you are probably using a method called the client side.
You insert in the source code of your website the tags of your solution providers. And everything happens on the user’s browser side.
The user generates requests to the servers of these actors, who collect the data directly.
GTM Server-Side challenges this. This time, the tags are placed not on the client but on your server side.
It acts as a proxy between the user’s browser and the servers of third-party solution providers. You collect your audience’s data, store it and decide with whom you share it.
This evolution will benefit entities that use tagging solutions like Google Tag Manager.
What are the advantages of GTM Server-side?
Improve page load time, user experience, better data control, and website security… The benefits of a Server-Side solution, especially the one from Google, are accurate. As a publisher, you get better control over what you collect and what you offer to your audience.
Optimize the loading time of your pages.
As you know, the loading time of your web pages is a fundamental indicator of your performance.
- It primarily impacts the bounce rate, which is the proportion of users who leave the site as soon as they arrive. Someone said that a long loading time makes the audience go.
- It also impacts your conversion rates. Slow-loading pages can disrupt the online shopping experience at the risk of ending up with many unconverted baskets.
Multiplying third-party tags (Google Analytics, Critero…) impacts this loading time. With server-side logic, this problem is theoretically solved.
For example, if you work with ten solutions:
- the client-side logic implies generating ten requests from the user’s browser to the servers of the third-party actors;
- with server-side logic, there is only one request; the data dispatch is done on your server.
Improve the user experience.
Beyond the loading time, tags also cause bugs and malfunctions of various kinds.
Your efforts to build a pleasant browsing experience depend significantly on how these tags work.
Server-side logic allows you to control your site better. And therefore optimize the quality of your service.
Controlling your data
Inserting tags on your site means letting third parties take advantage of your audience without any filter to collect their data. The risks for you are real:
- more or less controlled collection of data by the supplier of the solution concerned;
- data sharing with other third parties without your knowledge.
From now on, you will be the single point of data collection. And you decide with whom it will be shared.
A concrete example? Tags can systematically collect the IP address and user-agent of your visitors. This data is critical and very valuable.
Thanks to a server-side approach, you decide whether these actors will have access to this data.
Improve the security of your website
You protect yourself from the risks of data leakage.
If your forms need to be better configured, the URLs transmitted to your suppliers will likely include personal data (telephone number, e-mail, first or last name…) in clear text. This risk no longer exists with a server-side approach.
You can set up a robust security policy. Why? You decide what resources you want to use. You determine which resources can be loaded, for example, by accepting only those from your or Google’s domain.
In other words, you prevent the loading of malicious third-party scripts and malicious code.
So using this tool also allows you to take care of your GDPR compliance.
Free up your users’ resources.
Like many others, you were used to managing everything at the user’s browser level. This means you use your users’ computer resources to collect personal data.
A server-side approach is, from this point of view, more ethical since you use your resources.
What are the drawbacks of GTM Server-side?
Testing the GTM Server-side solution is not a neutral decision. For the editor, in addition to the cost of the resolution, there are real constraints inherent in the migration. Not to mention that the freedom gained by third parties is done by increasing your dependence on Google. Ultimately, your users need more transparency and control over their data. At the risk of undermining the trust, they have in you?
The solution is not free.
You can test the solution for free. But switching to a paid solution will be more appropriate for a production start.
You will therefore anticipate this expense in your budget.
A total opacity on the user side
As a result, you are freed from many of the safeguards that are used to protect your users:
- the policy of blocking third-party cookies by browsers concerned with limiting the sharing of user data with third-party actors;
- the control of cookies by these actors, in particular, their retention period;
- adblocks, which make it possible to block the display of advertising components provided by third parties.
This opens the door to all kinds of abuses. And for your audience, this is a real risk:
- Visitors lose control over the data. They depend on the tools you will propose to them to accept or not the deposit of cookies. Axeptio provides a module that allows you to give back power to your users.
Of course, you improve the way you collect data. Your databases will become more relevant as you enrich your customer knowledge.
But it is at the expense of the feeling that the user must keep control of his data. And of the trust he gives you.
Reinforced legal obligations, a significant challenge for GDPR compliance
Before, you let third parties collect data via your website. From now on, you will share it directly with them.
Your obligations are unchanged. But they are all the more incumbent on you:
- Assume full responsibility for the compliance of the deposited cookies since they are first-party cookies. This includes ensuring that your audience is informed correctly or that consent is obtained.
- Work only with service providers and suppliers who can comply with legal requirements and have a strict selection policy;
- limit to the strict minimum the data shared by these actors.
Be vigilant. Be sure to check the GDPR compliance of your website.
Increased dependence on Google’s products
The server-side method is exciting to regain your autonomy of action in front of many third-party actors who only want to use your audience.
But it means using a tool provided by Google. And therefore increase your dependence on this giant of the advertising market.
Maybe you were reducing it by looking for an alternative to Google Analytics? You missed it…
By the way, using a product provided by Google means transferring personal data outside the European Union. This is a context disrupted by the invalidation of the Privacy Shield. Remember it.
A method unsuited to certain situations
Switching to a server-side approach is not a decision to be taken lightly.
- The migration of your site implies critical work concerning the site markup. It is a project in its own right and must be planned;
- at the moment, not all tags can work in server-side mode, i.e., by retrieving data from a server (Google, for example);
- also, make sure that your site can migrate in a server-side logic. This is only sometimes the case.
Conclusion: Be prepared but don’t jump on Google Server-side
Google’s new product is part of a trend that will likely be the future of websites.
It will not necessarily be a question of switching entirely to server-side but instead of finding a hybrid solution between client and server.
Especially since the technologies on the market have yet to be completely stabilized.
For this reason, it is essential for you to take an interest in this new product and to prepare yourself. Slowly.