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    Server-Side Tracking Explained

    If you’re wondering how to make sure that your ads are seen by the right people to maximise potential conversions, you’re in the right place. We all know that the new GDPR rules and the restrictions on targeted advertising have made it more difficult to ensure that your ads are optimised, but there is a solution.

    We’ve got two (well, three) words for you: server-side tracking.

    Effective marketing needs reliable data

    Before you can grab your audience’s attention, you need to know who they are and where to find them. The way to do this is to make sure your data is as accurate as it can be. That way, you’ll know where to allocate budget for ad placement and how to make sure your ads are efficient. Across PPC, SEO and CRO, Google Ads algorithms need a certain amount of data to optimise bid management; and an understanding of user behaviour is more important for rankings than ever. Plus, calculating your ROI with SEO requires a lot of data too.

    However, privacy measures like GDPR, ad blockers, and refusing third-party cookies can prevent you from gathering the amount of data you need to market effectively.

    What happens if your data isn’t good enough?

    If you don’t have accurate data, you will end up losing money. You need to be able to track the user journey to properly measure your conversions and ROI. If you don’t, you could risk having faulty ads that you can’t optimise, or ads that don’t work at all.

    What is server-side tracking?

    Here’s a quick explanation.

    Right now you’re probably using client-side tracking for your data collection, but what does that mean? Well, the “client” is the device through which a user accesses your website (i.e., a web browser or mobile device). Therefore, data collection and delivery via the client is done through a direct connection between the browser and the server. It uses additional tags within the tag manager web container and sends data to Google Analytics, Google Ads and third parties.

    With a client-side setup, the data goes directly to marketing tools, or to Facebook or Google. This means that you have less access to the data and less control over it (as does the user). With server-side tracking, the data does an extra loop via a server. You can choose where the data goes and what to do with it from the server itself.

    Server-side tracking (also known as cloud delivery) involves data being sent to your web server. Your server then passes it along to the destination system or server. This creates an endpoint in your server environment within a container which can receive requests from any browser, device or source that supports HTTP protocol.

    Basically, with server-side tracking you can choose what to do with the data before it is sent to Facebook, Google and the usual marketing tools.

    What are the benefits of using server-side tracking?

    Server-side tracking gives you and your users tonnes of benefits, both in terms of security and data. These benefits include:

    1. Beating tracking prevention plugins

    Even if the user has ad blockers or third-party cookies are restricted, you’ll still receive data about the user’s activity on the page and their journey afterwards.

    2. Extended cookie lifespan

    Your cookies will live longer and recognise and attribute users over a longer timespan.

    3. Higher data protection

    Adding the loop via the server means data isn’t automatically sent to Facebook and Google. This gives you more control over how and where data is transmitted, meaning more security for you and the user!

    4. Faster website load time

    Because the cloud does the data processing for the device, it also makes the site speed much faster. This is better for the user and better for you, as a better user experience will push your page up the rankings.

    Basically you increase website load time because you can reduce the tracking scripts that are placed via the client-side tag manager on the website. So, for example, you could use the Google Analytics 4 tag to also conversions to Google Ads and Facebook Ads, making Google and Facebook Ads JavaScripts unnecessary on the website. Of course, this is not true of all of them, but those to measure conversions. Re-marketing JavaScripts still need to be placed on the website via client-side GTM!

    How Peak Ace can help

    Peak Ace has developed a variety of tools to help you get the data you need to market effectively. You can find out more about how how we can help you monitor your tracking now to make sure that your tags are working properly, and our cookie consent checker will help you to analyse banner performance and finally get an answer to the question of whether users agree to cookies when your banner pops up, or avoid interacting at all?

    Get in touch with our MarTech team with your questions and to find out more about how you can make the switch to server-side tracking today – and ask us about our Tracking Monitoring Tool to ensure that all GTM tracking tags are firing correctly.

    Emily Wilson

    is a Marketing and Communications Manager at Peak Ace. She joined the company in 2021 and works in the Berlin office. When she isn’t writing for our blog, Emily enjoys travelling, writing, and working on craft projects.