I took me a long way to get around to this article, because I don’t know if I will ever be able to say that server tagging can actually be learned. But to the brave the world belongs, so I will try to add my contribution and spread the knowledge I have gained further. I’ll try to recommend a number of spradwzowanych materials and at the end I’ll share my tips, in terms of server-based tagging using Google Tag Manager. Don’t know what it’s all about? Don’t worry and carefully study all the additional materials I recommend, and then come back for the further more complex part.

Server side tagging Google Tag Manager – new generation

There’s a reason server-based tagging is being referred to as the new generation of analytics. What does it stem from? Let’s imagine a metaphor in the form of a letter messenger. For a message sent from the addressee to the recipient to ever arrive, a messenger was needed to deliver the message. He didn’t always know what was inside, but his goal was to deliver the contents in the best possible condition and, let’s say, not lose any important information. Quite a successful analogy for tagging on a website, isn’t it?

Instead of the letter carrier, it turned out that it is possible to deliver messages directly to the recipient. Admittedly, this requires a bit of effort and we often have to go in person, for example to the bank, but in the end it simplifies the whole process. And on top of that, we do not “lose” any information and can collect a set of documents on the spot. This is exactly how I would describe server-based tagging. Instead of waiting for a messenger each time, this time we can manage all the sources in one place. What we get is a single source of truth that allows us to gather all the information in one place.

server side tagging GTm

What are the benefits of switching to server-based tagging?

In addition to the obvious benefits of reduced website load, there is the invaluable aspect of privacy. Tagging the server side circumvents all policies related to cookies, as the data is not stored in the site’s memory. Then there’s the aspect of more accurate data and a halfway solution to the problem of measuring from IOS devices. Half-hearted, because it still allows as much data as Apple sends to other browsers with its restrictive privacy policy.

To better understand the process, let’s start by watching one of my favorite channels about analytics Loves Data.

Set-up server side tagging

Next, let’s jump into the settings in Google Tag Manager. How to get started? I recommend setting up a test account and choosing the server-side container option.

server side

The next step is to choose the installation method:

  • automatic installation – works if you use Google Cloud Platform
  • manual installation – the default for most other servers
server side tagging

All documentation for developers can be found here: https://developers.google.com/tag-platform/tag-manager/server-side/manual-setup-guide

Sample data visualizations that show how server side tagging works below:

manual implementation server side tagging
server-side Tag Manager

NOTE: When using public cloud resources, third parties (like the cloud owner) may have access to our data. I recommend carefully studying the terms of the contract if this is a strategic resource in our organization.

Implementation by Google Tag Manager

Fortunately, the products in Google’s ecosystem work together quite smoothly and most of the configuration falls away from us. With the successful implementation of manual tagging, it will remain to add a trigger directly in Google Tag Manager, as in the screen shot below.

Google Tag Manager

After configuration, the “Client” tab in GTM should show the GA4 we are connected to. Below is a snapshot of the preview:

cookie settings

Discovering new features in Google Tag Manager, always unleashes the hunger for knowledge in me for further learning. GTM is truly one of the best tools, especially if you value a style of working at the intersection of technical skills and creative thinking. Finally, I recommend a much more comprehensive resource from Analytics Mania, which explains server side tagging in even more detail.

And how are you doing with this form of tagging? Are your customers asking for cloud solutions? Share your opinion in the comments or share this post on Linkedin. Be sure to let me know what you think!