Server-side Tag Manager should have its place in your digital measurement stack

Server-Side GTM - Why is should be part of your stack

Many websites use tag management systems to keep all analytics and marketing scripts under control. Tag management systems provide quite an easy way of doing that. However, most of the time, tag managers are loaded client-side – meaning that all the scripts and tags that are installed via these systems are loaded directly in the users’ browser. This means that client-side tagging has two distinct downsides:

  1. Negative impact on website performance: as the tag management system loads many scripts and executes many different tags it can have a negative impact on the website’s performance (loading speed, response time, etc.)
  2. Privacy Concerns: Since all the scripts are loaded directly in users’ browsers, it can pose a risk that these third-party vendors can access information, that should have not been exposed to them (for instance, the IP address).

The benefits of Server-Side Tagging

Server-side tag management can help you solve both issues mentioned above. By reducing the amount of client-side javascript that is required to load in your users’ browsers, it improves website performance from the end users’ point of view. 

Client-Side tag manager schematic overview
Client-Side tag manager schematic overview

You don’t have to load javascript libraries that are required by different vendors (for example for Google Analytics it’s analytics.js, for Facebook tracking it’s fbevents.js, etc) as you are not sending data to vendor’s endpoints directly from the users’ browser. Also when it comes to tracking various interactions, instead of firing multiple different tags for the same interactions (for different vendors) you can instead send one simple request to your own server-side GTM container, where this request is processed and then passed on to the endpoints of your choosing. 

Server-Side tag manager schematic overview
Server-Side tag manager schematic overview

Secondly, reducing the number of loaded scripts drastically improves the overall security of the website. With Server-side tagging, you are placing third-party tags into a safe server environment, where these tags can work only with the data that you provide them.

With great power comes great responsibility
This is crucial to understand: with server-side tag manager, your third-party marketing technology vendors can only get the data you explicitly share with them. This means you also take full responsibility for the data that you share.

This provides you with full control over what information is collected by these third parties. You control what is anonymized, pseudonymized, or what is stripped out completely (e.g. you can choose to protect IP addresses of your users by anonymizing them, or stripping them completely, so they never reach third-party servers in the first place, which was one of the issues in the recent Austrian Data Protection Authority ruling).

What are the next steps?

Obviously, Server-side tagging is only one piece of the puzzle if you really want to be in control of data collection on your website. Server-side tagging should go hand in hand with proper implementation of the Consent Management Platform (CMP), which ideally integrates Google’s Consent mode. Rick listed 9 actionable steps to get your data collection game under control in his latest article.

If you would like to discuss the topic of Server-side tagging more in detail, feel free to schedule a call with me using the link below to see if we can help out!

Read something interesting? Lets talk!