What is Server Side Tagging in Google Tag Manager?

What is Server Side Tagging in Google Tag Manager - Devrun Digital Analytics Agency
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Server-side tagging in Google Tag Manager allows users to move the digital analytics tags out of their website or app and place them into google cloud services. This is a server-based environment that stores those tags to enable server-side processing for your site.

Doing so will create an endpoint of your own in a server environment. Its works like a proxy between any hits sent from the browser and the digital analytics data collection’s actual endpoints. The endpoints are usually mapped with a custom subdomain that belongs to the same website sending requests. It allows cookies to be read and written more efficiently.

Setting up server-side tagging will provide you with multitudes of benefits. I will be explaining these advantages in the rest of the article.

Less Client Load, Better User Experience

Server-based tag management of Google Tag Manager significantly reduces the execution of JavaScript on the client-side.  Because the server container can be configured to map any incoming HTTP request into the required format, this substantially reduces your JavaScript and third-party pixel load into a single event stream directed, which is then directed into your server container. The client can intercept this event stream to map it into the event model expected by the vendor.

So, you can also create a custom template in the container when you don’t wish to reduce everything to a single stream. It allows building HTTP request to the container without loading any third-party JavaScript except the Google Tag Manager Library. This is one of the things that make server-side tagging crucial to digital analytics.

Cloud Server Ensures Better Security

Any client-based digital analytics implementation is prone to hackers or spammers with good debugging skills. Server-side tagging does the data processing remotely, away from the device. So, you don’t have to worry about sensitive information being exposed to the device. Your credential-based transactions will be a lot safer this way.

Malicious parties often send spam hits to random tracking ID’s as there is a possibility that some of them might actually end up in a real digital analytics account. Spamming of this sort is difficult to prevent with a client-side tag management system.

With server-side tagging, you can add custom dimensions within your server container. Google Analytics allows you to create a filter for this custom dimension, which would only allow relevant traffic. It renders any measurement protocol spamming efforts futile.

Controlled Endpoint Data Collection

Server-side tagging gives you full control over your digital analytics. Your proxy stays between the user’s device and endpoints. So, you can control what is being sent to the vendor. Normally, the IP and User-Agent string be the same as that of your server container unless the client overrides it by himself.

This is an excellent way to anonymize the HTTP protocol and ensure end-user privacy. The requests are directly sent to the vendors. And then, it is mapped into the App virtual machine. So, mapping to the user’s device can be avoided unless there was any modification from the client-side.

This way, the risk of leaking digital analytics data to third parties is prevented as they can’t connect to the user’s browser. Instead, the Google Tag Manager‘s cloud server handles the communication.

Better Control Over HTTP Traffics

Normally, a web browser loads the JavaScript from a vendor’s content distribution network. But, such a method can expose your device to a third party. And they can get your personal information if the URL happens to contain any sensitive information about yourself.

With Google Tag Manager, you can fully control the HTTP traffic. The server-side tagging feature stores data in a server first, which allows you to control any HTTP traffic that goes through the server. So, you can regulate the data collected by the server.

You also got the ability to hash potentially sensitive data using the API. You can modify the HTTP response back from the server that goes to the client’s device.

Updated Content Security Policy

Server-side tagging reduces the number of HTTP endpoints the browser communicates to. This is complementary to your site’s Content Security Policy (CSP). Your site depends on it to restrict the HTTP traffic to and from a user’s device.

Suppose you have added JavaScript for a digital analytics tag onto a site with CSP. If that JavaScript library wants to load content from another site, then the CSP must be configured from the server first to allow this modification.

So, it is clear from the above discussion that sending or receiving data is more secured with server-side tagging. It provides an added layer of security to your digital analytics data. If you are interested in moving to a server-based environment, you can contact the digital analytics experts at Devrun for assistance.

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