What is server-side GTM?
Server-side GTM is Google’s solution to move tags and scripts that are usually deployed through GTM in the browser to a server location.
Google describes the benefits as follows:
“Server-side GTM allows advertisers to move many third-party tags off their site and into a new server container hosted in your Google Cloud account. That means when customers interact with a page on your site, third-party tags are loaded directly in the server container rather than the site. This provides you with faster page load times, greater security for your customer data, and additional data controls.
Server-side GTM can have a large impact on an advertiser's business, from bolstering conversion volumes and sales with improved site speeds, to mitigating the risk of security breaches and improving control over your data.”
Does all of this actually matter?
Research indicates that 40% of users will leave the page if it doesn’t load under 3 second.
Server-side GTM promises to improve the website speed by moving tags from the client-side to the server-side. This means the browser is no longer responsible for executing the tags/scripts. As a result, less scripts need to be executed which results in a faster experience. This means increasing site speed has a direct impact on the revenue generated.
The security aspect is equally important. As none of the elements are actually visible in the browser it means that the data isn’t exposed. In advanced use cases such as Profit Margin optimisation server-side GTM allows advertisers to run all the logic away from the client-side. The same goes for client id’s and api keys.
Is Server-side GTM a new thing
Yes and no.
Yes in the sense that it’s now a public beta. However, this version is an iteration of a version that was presented at last year’s Google Marketing Platform Summit in San Francisco. This version of Server-side GTM was battle tested by Google’s GMP partners including Semetis. The feedback was that the implementation was expensive and highly technical due to the manual integration of Google Cloud Platform Services. The current version eases the setup by essentially managing the setup out of the box and tackles the pricing issue.
Server-side GTM is now a free performant solution backed up by the Google Cloud Platform’s processing power. GTM isn’t the first TMS to offer server-side tracking. Tealium IQ has already been offering a server-side variation for quite some time.
What do we think?
Today, server-side applications sound exotic and highly technical. However, they will become more mainstream. Facebook as well as other tech players are working on server-side solutions in order to bring secure solutions to the market that take into account the privacy challenges of our industry. Even though the technicality might be fairly high at the moment, Google’s iteration of Server-side GTM with improved onboarding flow indicates that these products are becoming easier to use. We’re keen to take this beta product into the wild and use it as a tool to leverage our client’s growth.