Server-side tracking in the context of GA4 refers to a method of collecting and sending data from a website, to Google Analytics using a server-side connection, instead of the regular in-browser implementation utilizing third-party cookies. In this article, we explore the implications of not leveraging this more powerful kind of tracking and the implications it can have for your business.
The benefits of server-side tracking
There are several benefits of leveraging GA4 server-side tracking. So you might want to consider these perks:
Improved data accuracy: Server-side tracking can improve data accuracy by reducing data loss and eliminating discrepancies caused by ad-blockers, script-blockers, or other factors that prevent client-side tracking methods from working properly. Depending on which your source, between 25 - 45 % of internet users have an ad-blocker installed in their browser, which in the majority of cases leads to “invisible traffic”. Server-side implementation of GA4 increases the ratio of ad-blocking users that you can track on your site, and also greatly improves the measurability and reliability of your data.
Better conversion tracking and attribution: Server-side tracking can also be used in circumstances outside of GA4 - for example in tracking conversions in Meta as well as Google Ads. The same benefits concerning data measurability mentioned above for GA4 are applicable in these instances as well, allowing your campaigns more data to improve campaign performance, attribution, ROI, and other vital paid metrics.
More control over data: Server-side tracking provides businesses with more control over their data by enabling them to manage data collection, and processing on their own servers, or through a trusted third-party service.
Increased data privacy: Server-side tracking can help businesses address privacy concerns by reducing reliance on third-party cookies, and providing more control and transparency over data collection and processing.
Reduced data sampling: Server-side tracking can help your business reduce data sampling by sending all data to GA4, which can improve data analysis and provide a more accurate picture of user behavior and engagement.
More complete data: Server-side tracking can help businesses capture more data by sending additional information, such as server logs, user agent strings, and other non-personal data information, which can provide valuable insights into user behavior and engagement.
Customizable data collection: Server-side tracking enables businesses to customize data collection by sending only the data they want to track, reducing the amount of irrelevant or redundant data that may skew analysis, or lead to inaccurate insights.
Drawbacks of not using server-side tracking
Not leveraging server-side tracking in the context of GA4 can have several implications for your business. So you might want to consider the following:
Limited data accuracy: When relying solely on client-side tracking methods, businesses may experience data loss or inaccurate data due to ad-blockers, script-blockers, or other factors that prevent the tracking code from firing properly. This limitation will progressively get worse over time, as more browsers start blocking third-party cookies.
Increased data sampling: Without server-side tracking, GA4 may apply data sampling to larger data sets, which can lead to less accurate and less representative data analysis.
Less control over data: Businesses that do not leverage server-side tracking may have less control over their data, and may be forced to rely on third-party services to collect and analyze user data. It can be a potential risk for your business.
Privacy concerns: Client-side tracking methods may raise privacy concerns for users who may not want their data collected by third-party cookies, whereas server-side tracking can provide more control and transparency over data collection and processing. Personal security for users is a big deal, which is also about trust for your business. Don't let your users doubt your honest intentions about their security.
Missed opportunities: Without server-side tracking, businesses may miss out on valuable insights into user behavior, engagement, and conversion tracking, which can impact the ability to optimize their website or app for better performance and user experience. In the long term, this can mean lost revenue.
Overall, leveraging server-side tracking in GA4 setup can provide more accurate, complete, and reliable data, as well as greater control over data collection, privacy, and analysis, which can lead to better business decisions and improved user experiences. Don’t lose your edge in the GA game. Ensure your website's GA4 setup with our quick test. It is totally free – do the test here.