20 March 2024
4 mins read

Why you should focus on server-side tracking now

Upcoming challenges

With Google’s announcement that it will phase out third-party cookies by the second half of 2024, the increase of privacy regulations and the exponential use of ad blockers, client-side tracking is becoming increasingly ineffective.

For users, these are welcomed changes that aim to enhance privacy and control over personal data on the internet.

For businesses and marketers, this shift presents difficult challenges:

  • Data quality will take a dive due to incomplete and ineffectual collection methods
  • It will be harder to collect cross-site behaviour data
  • The lack of precise targeting options may lead to less efficient ad spend, requiring increased investment
  • Scope is limited compared to the broad insights previously gained from third-party cookies
  • Development of new digital and marketing strategies to accommodate these changes will take time and effort

In many ways, however, server-side tracking comes to the rescue and aims to resolve these new challenges.

What is server-side tracking?

Traditionally, web analytics have relied heavily on client-side tracking, where data collection is performed in the user’s browser which it sends directly to analytics, advertising and data collection tools.

Server-side tracking, as the name suggests, shifts the data collection process to the server. When a user performs an action, such as completing a purchase or submitting a form, the server processes that action and immediately sends the relevant data to a tracking system of your choosing, which you have control and ownership over.

Reporting detail & accuracy

In performance marketing, meticulous reporting detail and accuracy forms the basis of informed decision-making and optimisation, which ultimately leads to results. Across platforms like Meta, Google and Tiktok, granular reporting allows marketers and businesses alike to refine advertising strategies.

One of the primary advantages of server-side tracking is its unparalleled accuracy. By capturing user behaviour directly on the server, there are fewer discrepancies caused by browser settings, ad blockers or device limitations.

Currently, Meta offers a comprehensive server-side tracking solution through Facebook’s Conversions API (CAPI), while similarly Tiktok provides its Events API solution.

Google is yet to announce a server-side tracking solution that is built into Google Ads, meaning that the best solution as this time is to set up a server workspace in Google Tag Manager and a conversion linking tag. Read more about Server-side Tag Manager for Google Ads here.

On-page performance (page speed)

Generally, any loading that happens on the client-side of a website equates to a slower page load. By shifting the bulk of the processing to the server-side, we can reduce the amount of resource the browser requires to load a page, making it faster.

Do more with data (with more data)

A handy side-effect of utilising server-side tracking is that it acts as a way to circumvent ad-blockers. Ad-blockers work by either blacklisting popular/known ad providers, such as GoogleAds, from loading in the browser or by manipulating the data in which is passed through. So by circumventing ad-blockers you can obtain accurate data and more of it.

And because this data isn’t directly flowing into a black box like Google Analytics, it provides access to a more comprehensive and complete dataset before it is processed, which means you can get more out of it, by triaging directly into your CRM for example. Advanced personalisation, trend modelling, forecasting, behavioural insights – with raw data at your disposal there is a world of possibility.

Heard enough? We can help you make the transition to server-side tracking.
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