Server-Side Google Tag Manager: What, Why and How

What is Server-Side Tracking?

How does traditional (client-side) tracking with Google Tag Manager work?

Google Tag Manager provides you with a small JavaScript code that you put on your website and that JavaScript then loads various other JavaScript codes such as Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, etc. These JavaScript codes then collect the data from your site and send them over to their respective servers (endpoints).

However, this creates several problems,

  • Their JavaScripts can read anything they want from the webpage, browser, etc.
  • The data goes over HTTP requests so it can be read by hackers.
  • Many ad blockers block these javascript calls, resulting in incomplete data.
  • Page load time is impacted because all the JavaScripts have to load

So to counter issues organizations are turning to Server-Side tracking by deploying the tracking in the cloud.

Server-Side Tracking

In server-side tracking, instead of sending the data to an endpoint like GA4, Facebook, etc. you send the call to a server in the cloud.  This server then can package/repackage the incoming request and send it to endpoints.

By doing so you can

  • Use your own domain for sending the data (ad blockers likely won't block them).
  • Only deploy small GTM JavaScript on the browser (thus speeding up the site load time). This Javascript sends the call to the server.
  • All the other endpoints (GA4, Facebook, etc.) are sent the data from the cloud server so they never see users' browsers and can't read any data, nor can the hackers.
  • Only send the data that you want to send (JavaScripts are not loading in the client so they can't read anything else from the client browser.

We have created a step-by-step course, that will teach you everything you need to learn and move the tags from browser-side tracking to server-side tracking.


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