Digital MarketingThe Rise of Server-Side Tracking: What It Means for Your Data
Explore the benefits of server-side tracking for enhanced privacy and data accuracy in our comprehensive guide. Learn how it works, why it matters, and best practices for implementation.

The Rise of Server-Side Tracking: What It Means for Your Data

Remember tracking cookies – those little bits of code that followed you around the web? They helped marketers figure out your interests, target ads, and generally understand online behavior. However, the cookie-filled world of digital marketing is rapidly changing. Privacy concerns, stricter regulations, and browser limitations have made third-party cookies less reliable. This leaves businesses asking, “What now?”

The answer, for many, is server-side tracking (SST). It’s the hot topic in marketing technology, offering solutions to the challenges posed by a cookieless future. If you haven’t heard about it yet, you will soon. 

Let’s dive in!


Understanding Server-Side Tracking

What is Server-Side Tracking?

At its core, server-side tracking involves sending user interaction data directly from your servers to a tracking server or analytics platform, bypassing the client’s browser. This method contrasts sharply with traditional client-side tracking, where data is processed at the user’s browser level before being sent to servers.

How It Works

When a user interacts with your site, every action — click, scroll, or download — is first sent to your server. From there, data is forwarded to the necessary analytics tools and platforms securely. This centralized data processing offers a streamlined, controlled environment for handling information.

Benefits for Privacy and Accuracy

Why server-side? To put it simply: privacy, accuracy, performance.

Privacy at the Forefront: Server-side tracking minimizes the risk of data leakage and ensures compliance with data privacy laws like GDPR and CCPA. By processing data in a controlled environment, it reduces exposure to third-party scripts that might capture sensitive information without consent.

Accurate Data Collection: Unlike client-side tracking, SST is less likely to be blocked by ad blockers or browser restrictions which can impact data accuracy. The result? A clearer, more reliable picture of user behavior.

Boost in Site Performance: Server-side tracking can improve overall website speed by reducing the number of scripts executed in the browser — this not only enhances user experience but also benefits SEO rankings.

Implementing Server-Side Tracking

Server-side tracking isn’t just a technical upgrade, it’s a strategic imperative in today’s digital economy. Thinking about making the jump? Here’s some considerations to keep in mind:

  • Choose the Right Setup: Server-side tagging typically leverages a tag management system like Google Tag Manager. You’ll also need to decide on a server environment (your own or cloud-based).
  • Technical Expertise: While tag managers can help simplify the process, be prepared for some technical challenges, especially if you opt to manage servers yourself. The complexity can increase depending on the sophistication of your setup.
  • Vendor Compatibility: Verify that your existing analytics and marketing tools can integrate with server-side data collection methods.

Best Practices

  • Detailed Planning: Before going live, thoroughly outline your data collection goals, privacy policies, and integration plans to avoid any hiccups.
  • Maintain Transparency with Users: Clearly inform users about the data you collect and how it will be used.
  • Regularly Review Data Collection Methods: Ensure they meet privacy standards and business needs.
  • Optimize Data Flow: Avoid unnecessary data processing to reduce server load and increase efficiency.

Server-side tracking is a bit more involved than the old way. Implementing SST involves careful planning around data security and infrastructure capabilities. It’s important to ensure your martech architecture is robust and that data transfer is compliant with privacy regulations..

Why make the Server-Side Shift?

With Chrome holding over 65% of the world’s browser market share, and their impending deprecation of third-party cookies, server-side tracking offers a viable solution to the limitations and challenges posed by traditional cookie-based tracking. By implementing SST, businesses can secure a competitive edge, ensuring that their data handling processes are not only compliant but also capable of delivering unparalleled insights into customer behavior.

It’s not just about adapting to change, it’s about setting the pace for the future of digital marketing. As the cookie crumbles, considering server-side tracking isn’t just a smart move – it could very well be a necessary one.

Stay Connected and Engage with Us

Ready to level up your digital ecosystem? Let’s chat about how server-side tracking can integrate with your data strategy and transform your marketing results. Reach out to us today.

This post is the second in our series of articles surrounding the future of martech. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our first installment with Navigating the Cookieless Future: Strategies for Success.

oh hello you
creative agency.
Delivering high-quality projects for international clients. Ask us about digital, branding and storytelling.