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Server-side tracking

Take back control of your data

What is server-side tracking?

Server-side tracking is a method of collecting and processing first-party data about the user. Instead of having JavaScript and tags/pixels to run in the browser, which sends data directly to Google, Facebook or the like, user data is sent to a server at your disposal. It can, for example, be data about a conversion. You can then control how data is to be processed and which third parties the data may be forwarded to.

What is the challenge?

New cookie rules, tracking blockers and browser restrictions impair the collection of data and its quality. Therefore, it is more important than ever to rethink the way in which data about the user is collected. On this page, we will introduce server-side tracking and review how it can get your data collection up to speed.

What is the difference between client-side tracking and server-side tracking?

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    Server-side tracking

    Server-side tracking works by sending data to a server via an HTTP response rather than directly to a third party via browser cookies. The server can be self-hosted or a cloud-based server, such as Google Cloud Platform, Azure or something else entirely. Next, as a server administrator, you have control over where the data is sent afterwards.

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    Client-side tracking

    Client-side tracking typically works by implementing tags or pixels which, via the browser, transmit data from websites directly to a third-party server, e.g. Google Analytics. Client-side tracking can be easily implemented via code snippets (JavaScript) from third-party providers.

What are the benefits of server-side tracking?

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More control over data

You decide for yourself what the data will be used for, how it will be processed and where it will be sent.

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Better data security

Cookies are placed on the user's device via your own server. That is these are first-party cookies that cannot be read by a third party, but only by your own server, which means that others cannot "listen in".

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More reliable data across platforms

You get more accurate data for your statistics and marketing platforms, such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and TikTok, which can increase the effectiveness of your marketing automation.

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Less dependence on browsers

You don't have to bother with adblockers and other browser restrictions that can block third-party cookies, e.g. ITP and ETP (see further explanation below).

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Better website speed

You can achieve significantly better website speeds, as analytics tags via JavaScript do not have to be loaded in the browser.

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The solution of the future

As third-party cookie tracking is slowly dying out, server-side tracking is likely to be the future of first-party data collection.

What are our recommended solutions?

At Novicell, in most cases we recommend setting up server-side tagging in Google Tag Manager via a cloud server, such as Google Cloud Platform, as it provides the most flexibility in cross-platform tracking.
Below are two examples of our recommended server-side tracking setup:

For Facebook:

  • Facebook Conversion API

  • Cloud-server with Google Cloud Platform

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    Server setup

  • Google Analytics 4 setup

  • Server-side tagging in Google Tag Manager

For Google Ads:

  • Cloud-server with Google Cloud Platform

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    Server setup

  • Google Analytics 4 setup

  • Server-side tagging in Google Tag Manager

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    Global Site Tag conversion actions

  • GoogleConsent Mode

Is server-side tracking legal?

Server-side tracking is legal if it is set up correctly and the data is collected and processed correctly. Consent must still be obtained from users regarding setting cookies and using the data for statistics and marketing. If the user has accepted cookies, it is legal to set them on the user's device, which provides better opportunities for collecting data. Conversely, if the user does not accept cookies, it is not legal to set cookies. With server-side tracking, it is your responsibility as the data controller that the data is collected and processed in accordance with the law.

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