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Why you should embrace Google Tag Manager Server-Side Tagging

As businesses strive to optimise their websites for better conversions, they face the challenge of balancing performance and user privacy. 

However, with the emergence of server-side tagging in Google Tag Manager (GTM), finding this balance has become easier than ever.

We believe that Google Tag Manager server is the future of analytics and conversion tracking.

We’ll tell you why with an easy to understand explanation that will help you explore the benefits of server-side tagging and why you should consider implementing it for your business.

Understanding Server-Side Tagging in Google Tag Manager

Before diving into the advantages of server-side tagging, let's first understand what it entails. In a traditional client-side tagging configuration, measurement and advertising tags are loaded directly on the user's browser, which can impact website performance. However, with server-side tagging, these tags are moved off the website and into a secure server container.

This approach not only enhances user privacy by restricting access to customer information but also improves website performance by reducing page load times. With server-side tagging, businesses can harness the power of GTM while ensuring a seamless user experience.


The Benefits of Server-Side Tagging

Now that we have a basic understanding of server-side tagging, let's explore the key benefits it offers.


1. Enhanced Data Collection and Conversion Tracking

GTM server-side tracking provides businesses with high-quality data collection capabilities. By leveraging server-side tagging, you can ensure the authenticity and accuracy of your data, mitigating the impact of ad blockers, Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), and iOS restrictions. This allows you to directly share data from your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to the GTM server, enabling comprehensive analysis through Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

Server-side tagging empowers you to shape, manipulate, or ignore data based on its relevance, providing valuable insights for better conversion tracking and analysis.


2. Improved Website Performance

One of the most significant advantages of server-side tagging is its positive impact on website performance. By transferring the processing burden from the user's browser to a server container, you can eliminate the need for multiple third-party tracking scripts which are traditionally loaded from outside your own domain. This reduction in tags and reliance on external resources improves website speed, resulting in enhanced user experiences and reduced bounce rates.

With faster page load times, your website can achieve better search engine optimisation (SEO) rankings, ultimately driving more organic traffic and conversions.


3. Enhanced Privacy and Data Security

In an era of increasing concerns about privacy, server-side tagging offers a secure and privacy-focused solution. Unlike client-side tagging, where vendors have access to user personal data, server-side tagging allows you to control the data shared with each vendor. Google Analytics, Facebook (or Meta as they are beginning to be known as), and Google Ads only receive the necessary data for analysis, ensuring the protection of sensitive customer information.

Furthermore, server-side tagging enables you to process requests within the server container, preventing the collection of personally identifiable information (PII) by custom scripts. This level of control safeguards your tracking IDs, secret APIs, and visitor data from spam hits and unauthorised access.


4. Extended Cookie Lifetime on Safari and Firefox

Setting up a server container in GTM with a custom subdomain has an additional advantage – it allows you to extend the lifetime of your cookies on browsers like Safari and Firefox. While setting a cookie with Google Analytics typically lasts for seven days, utilising a GTM server container with a custom subdomain extends the cookie lifespan to two years.

This extended cookie lifetime enables you to track customer behaviour over a longer period, providing valuable insights for retargeting and remarketing efforts.


5. Data Enrichment and Compliance

Server-side tagging empowers businesses to enrich their data and make informed, data-driven decisions. By analysing conversions and user behaviour, you can create custom audiences and tailor your marketing strategies effectively. Additionally, server-side tagging ensures compliance with regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and Content Security Policy (CSP).

With complete control over data flow, you can ensure that information is collected and shared only as permitted by these regulations, protecting your customers' privacy and building trust.


Limitations and Considerations

While server-side tagging offers numerous benefits, it's important to be aware of the limitations and considerations associated with its implementation.

Firstly, hosting a server container on platforms like Google Cloud Platform (GCP) may involve additional costs beyond the free testing configuration of GTM server-side tagging. The cost will vary depending on the volume of data being processed. We have a solution for that with which we’re able to reduce the costs significantly (by which I mean 80% cheaper) bringing it to an affordable price for clients large and small.

Secondly, server-side tagging requires technical expertise to set up and operate effectively. If you don't have the necessary skills in-house then look no further than Yello Studio, we’ve been working with Google Tag Manager servers since very early on, as early adopters of the latest marketing tech we pride ourselves in staying one step ahead of the curve.


Our Final Thoughts...

Server-side tagging in Google Tag Manager presents a game-changing opportunity for businesses seeking to optimise their website performance while maintaining user privacy. By leveraging server-side tagging, you can enhance data collection and conversion tracking, improve website performance, ensure privacy and data security, extend cookie lifetimes, and comply with industry regulations.

While it may require additional resources and technical expertise, the benefits of server-side tagging make it a worthwhile investment for businesses looking to maximise their digital marketing efforts. Embrace the power of server-side tagging in Google Tag Manager and unlock new possibilities for your online success.