In response to the barrage of changes, privacy restrictions, limitations, and deprecations that made light since 2020, growth and marketing teams are beginning to join the other side. The server-side.
Okay, that may have sounded more dramatic than necessary, but server-side tagging is being embraced by all because it helps brands regain control over their data. Server-side tagging provides the first-party context that is needed to track users and customers. With it, you can simply pass data which could be a sale or a lead back to a tracking provider via API or FTP, and there are no cookies involved.
Switching to the server-side on networks such as Facebook and Google also presents its own set of perks for growth teams, which can also become further amplified with AI.
With that said—this post will explore the benefits of server-side tracking, and why top ad networks such as Facebook and Google are pushing marketers to capitalize on it. And in true Voyantis-fashion, I’ll also throw in some additional insights on how you can take server-side tracking to a whole new level, simply by making use of data you already have (and a little AI 😇).
The benefits of server-side tracking
Simply put, server-side tracking is like a one-on-one connection between users and brands. It allows data to be transmitted from the user’s browser to the brand’s web server first—before it is transmitted elsewhere.
This presents a slew of benefits for marketing teams. One of these benefits is the fact that with server-side tracking, there are fewer privacy limitations. This is because third-party cookies are moved away from the brands website, straight into server-side processing via the cloud. By nature, that turns them into first-party cookies, which by extension are less limited by numerous privacy policies. This benefit also extends onto the reliability component, as different browser types and versions would not be affected when it comes to performance. Speaking of browsers, since the amount of code running into the browser is limited, your website will load faster when utilizing server-side tracking—clearly leading to a better user experience and is beneficial for SEO.
Additionally, server-side tracking activates access to more comprehensive data for marketing teams, none of which is hampered by ad blockers or Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP). Not only will marketing teams get access to more data, they would also be able to enjoy the benefits associated with having increased data ownership and control. This enables marketing teams to decide which data points to track, as well as where to send it to. The data enrichment factor will also become amplified, thereby giving marketing, growth, and data science teams the option to enrich incoming data with relevant additional info, such as data from a customer relationship management system.
Why Facebook is recommending server-side conversion tracking
Facebook’s Conversions API helps create a connection between your marketing data and Facebook’s systems that optimize ad targeting, decrease cost per action and measure results. When it comes to direct integrations, this entails establishing a connection between an advertiser’s server and Facebook.
The information that can be extracted from this is of great benefit for subscription and eCommerce brands, including that of purchases and add-to-carts. Server-side conversions tracking will allow Facebook to attribute conversions on your website to ad impressions and clicks. It can additionally help optimize ad targeting, improve conversion attribution, measure results, and decrease cost per action.
Server-side tagging with Google
When it comes to server-side tagging with Google—this also gives businesses greater control over the information the third-party tags have access to. That means you can get greater security for your customer’s data and added data controls. According to an official statement from Google, “This helps you ensure that any new tags added to your container follow the same permissions, so you do not need to check tag behaviors in the future continuously.” Well that sure spares marketing teams from a load of hassle!
The benefit of this over client-side tags include:
- Improved performance: Fewer measurement tags in your website or app means less code to run on the client side.
- Better security: Visitor data is better protected and more secure when collected and distributed in a customer-managed server-side environment. Data is sent to a cloud instance where it is then processed and routed by other tags.
For more technical details on website configuration with Google’s server-side tag manager, have a look at this post from their dev site.
Collectively this is all great, but you know what can make server-side tagging even better? The addition of predictive marketing!
How server-side tagging can be made even better with predictive marketing
Marketing teams behind sophisticated brands naturally use server-side tagging to send more advanced signals to networks.
In their case, the signals are not a single event that a user performed. Instead, these are signals that specially flag high value users for the brand/company, based on multiple actions/criteria. When it comes to flagging the best-of-the-best, it could be based on a few combined events that the user performed (which would imply this user will be high value,) or the decision can be based on zero-party data which was provided by the user, which typically stems from questionnaires or surveys.
Now here’s the real cherry on top!
Sophisticated brands with rich data lakes use this opportunity to tap into the power and potential of predictive marketing, to send advanced LTV signals to ad networks, in an effort to optimize campaigns based on those signals. Predictive marketing, as the name suggests, is an umbrella term for technology that deeply analyzes both current and historical data in order to make intelligent predictions about future events.
This is an approach that BoxyCharm, the largest full size monthly beauty subscription box with over 1M+ subscribers in North America, chose to take in mid-2021, and it is met with exemplary results. The company saw that their top 30 percent of LTV users generated 70 percent of their revenues, so they wanted to bring more users just like that top 30 percent.
The team turned to predictive marketing, and a model was built to predict LTV based on BoxyCharm’s historical retention data, and the high LTV signal was sent to Facebook, to hyperfocus on the best-of-the-best users. In the end, BoxyCharm’s ROAS went up by 30 percent, and retention was set to go up by 81 percent over the next 12 months. You can read more about it here.
It’s safe to say that growth teams of today are blessed to have the options of using lights and lasers in their user acquisition efforts. By lights, I’m talking about the light at the end of the tunnel that is server-side tracking; and by laser, I am referring to the optimized signals that are shot over to ad networks with a predictive UA solution. If you’re not currently making use of the two, well, let’s just say it’s a huge missed opportunity for long-term profitability and scalability—and now is the time to get started!