Client and server-side tracking are two routes to collecting audience data. With client-side tracking, the user’s browser (client) sends data to the tracking platform’s server. Server-side tracking sends the user data to your website server first before being transferred to the tracking platform.
Examples of the tracking platform’s servers are Google Analytics or social media platforms such as Facebook. This is typically achieved using small pieces of code (cookies, tags, or pixels) embedded in the website.
Marketers have traditionally relied on analytics and audience data gathered through third-party cookies on the client-side to inform their marketing and advertising campaigns and to assess website performance. But growing privacy concerns among consumers, increasingly stringent regulations, and browser restrictions limit the ability to collect data in this way. Marketers are losing 10-30% of tracking data due to Ad Blockers and intelligent tracking prevention (ITP) imposed by the browser.
Current methods to track eCommerce transactions using these client-side events result in significant measurement errors and broken customer journeys. This means the revenue attributable to your paid marketing efforts is underestimated:
Server-side transaction tracking (or cloud delivery) does not rely on the client-side thank-you page and therefore provides more accurate attribution data.
What percentage of your transactions have the thank-you page as a landing page? Visit our blog to find out what data you are missing.
Server-side tracking is where one central cloud-based repository collects all the audience data and forwards that data to third-party platforms. When tracking users in the browser, a website typically has multiple tracking scripts running simultaneously with cookies in first-party or third-party format. Moving to server-side tracking means capturing all behavioral events in a single stream and then distributing them to the end data collection platforms.
CM.com’s TraceDock solution offers a server-side tracking service that tracks each user using scripts that only run when they visit a webpage. It matches transaction data with session data resulting in accurate attribution in Google Analytics and Meta. Performing this on the server-side means it is captured as privacy-friendly first-party data, so storing data as a cookie on the user’s device is unnecessary. This anonymous tracker sends data directly to Google Analytics or your chosen website tracking tool to ensure you obtain a complete picture of your audience.
To achieve this, TraceDock creates a server-side Client ID that can be used for first-party web analytics. This is in hash format, whereby a short string of letters and/or numbers is generated using the user’s IP address, user agent, and website URL and is stored on the server rather than with the client. This makes the process irreversible (hashing only works in one direction and cannot be decrypted) and therefore anonymous and fully compliant with GDPR and privacy laws.
The main benefits of server-side tracking versus client-side tracking are that it:
If you still rely on traditional browser-based web analytics, you are not getting a complete and accurate picture of your audience’s online behavior and preferences. It’s time to explore cookieless, first-party data collection, and server-side tracking strategies.
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