10. November 2021

How to select a server-side tagging solution.

With 5 easy but important considerations to your new tracking and tagging system.

Intro

Over the last year we probably did more than 5000 calls about the state of tracking, how the industry changes with new technology and regulation as well as how the market reacts. 

Still, we often see that individuals have difficulties to select a tracking solution that suits their needs and solves the current data collection and compliance challenges they face. 

Below you will find 5 key aspects you need to consider, when selecting your new data collection tool, because one thing is certain, either you change your setup now or you are left behind the competition.

1. Understand that server-side tracking or hybrid tracking is the only option in the future.

Let’s face it. Not only 3rd party cookies are dead, but pure client-side tracking is about to follow suit.

  • Ad-blockers and Tracking Preventions kill your data collection ambitions – even the data you are rightfully allowed to own,
  • Control over your data is never really given, because you cannot guarantee which data is collected by your third party tools,
  • International data transfer is a deal-breaker,
  • Your page speed decreases as you increase the number of pixels implemented directly on your page, and
  • You don’t even own your raw data.

 

We could go on and on and on but we believe that you get the point.

You need to find a solution which is the combination of client-side tracking and server-side tagging – we call this Hybrid Tracking.

This should be the first takeaway for you: The future belongs to server-side and hybrid tracking systems.

2. Make sure the solution is compliant early on. EU companies need an EU-based solution.

Anyone that follows the news in our industry knows about the impact that privacy/data regulations have had and will continue to have on data collection efforts by companies.

In the EU, the ePrivacy guidance as well as the general data protection regulation (in short GDPR) changed data-driven marketing completely and are here to stay. And that’s why it is so important (and here number two in this list) to select a compliant server-side or hybrid tracking solution from the beginning. 

And while some might think that there are lots of server-side tracking solutions on the market, this number shrinks quite massively if you account for DSGVO § 44-49 (Schrems II). Because then, for example Google Server-side Tagging is not a viable/compliant solution anymore, especially if it is hosted in the Google Cloud. And yes, you can host it in other clouds, but even then compliance is a very hot topic. 

As a European company, we at JENTIS have taken this topic very seriously from the beginning. We wanted to challenge our approach and also see how other solutions compare from a legal perspective. We partnered up with Spirit Legal, which specialises on exactly this topic. They created a data protection memorandum which confirms that JENTIS is indeed a compliant solution, which can be implemented as a “strictly necessary” tool with a specific setting and with which even Schrems II can be solved.

 

Quick teaser: Google Server-side Tagging can’t do any of those in their standard setup. But see for yourself here.


Takeaway
número dos: For EU companies a EU tracking solution is essential.

3. Make sure the solution collects all your first party data.

So far we concluded that hybrid tracking is the most resilient solution in the future and that you should focus right from the start on compliance (otherwise it will get ugly soon). Next, you should check whether you can actually collect all your first party data. There are two categorical inhibitors you need to look out for are: 

  • Tracking Preventions like ITP from Apple or ETP from Mozilla
  • Ad-blockers like Ghostery

 

Each of those will impact your data quality (how good your data is) and your data quantity (how much data you collect) negatively. User recognition and essential insights can be massively falsified if you or your solution don’t deal with them.

Note: Even with server-side tracking solutions (including JENTIS here) third party cookies are dead and remarketing via third party cookies is currently only possible in Google Chrome. Other browser providers do not support them anymore and this cannot be changed.

The third takeaway: Make sure that the new tool allows you to collect as much first party data as possible for your marketing stack.

4. Analyse consent opportunities - can you collect 100% data due to strictly necessary tool/cookies.

Dealing with tracking preventions and ad-blockers is the first proper step to start collecting correct and coherent data in the future. Another important consideration needs to be discussed at this point and should be part of your research. Under which setting can you use your data collection tool in the future? 

As already mentioned above, we created a memorandum with Spirit Legal. Inside, you will find a line of argument which justifies one’s use of JENTIS as a “strictly necessary” tool. This has a very cool and competitive impact on your data collection (see screenshot below).

In the “worst case scenario” no consent for your third party marketing tools are given. JENTIS enables you to collect and forward 100% anonymised data to your tools. On the other hand, should your tools get consent, we can forward 100% personalised data to your tools, if GDPR allows for it. We can do this on a “per tool”- basis. 

In comparison, that’s the two options you have with client-side tracking: 

Here, in the “worst case scenario” your tools receive no data at all if no consent is given. Should you receive consent, at least you get some data into your tools, which is further impacted by Ad-blockers and tracking preventions – in our experience companies are left with around 50% of accurate website data. So still not a very attractive choice which most companies currently surprisingly accept because they think that’s just their faith and they cannot do anything about it.

To say it the right way, we do not support non-compliant tracking, not at all. But we also believe that a company is allowed to collect its first party data while respecting the privacy of its users either through active consent or through anonymisation. 

Takeaway #4: Consider the possible consent settings of your new data collection tool.

5. Check the functionality of the solution

Once you are convinced that server-side/hybrid tracking is the future (step 1), you have compliant tracking options to compare and contrast (step 2), all of them are not impacted by tracking preventions and ad-blockers (step 3) and they can be used with consent (step 4), you have only one more thing to do – check their functionality. (and yes, we are absolutely certain that this ranking of the individual steps is the correct one. You don’t want to do a POC with a solution, spend time to learn how it works and only then get told by your compliance team, that you cannot use it)

Here are three essential tips you should consider when you look at the functionality of your next tracking solution: 

  • Know what you really need and can do 
  • Don’t forget that tracking is constantly changing 
  • Don’t compare your new tracking technology with old use cases and client-side tracking. Some will just change. That doesn’t mean that the server-side/hybrid tracking solution is not the right one for you.

Last but not least, the fifth takeaway: Get to know the tool and see how everything works. Understand and plan how you could implement your specific use cases. Some will be as they were, others might need to be changed a bit. 

Overview and last words

Here again the overview:

  • Understand that server-side tracking or hybrid Tracking is the only option in the future.
  • Make sure the solution is compliant early on. EU companies need an EU-based solution.
  • Make sure the solution collects all your first party data.
  • Analyse consent opportunities – can you collect 100% data due to strictly necessary tool/cookies.
  • Check the functionality of the solution

We hope these 5 considerations and takeaways will help you in finding the right hybrid tracking solution for your personal challenges and needs. There are great options out there so take a close look at them. 

Please reach out to us here if you have any questions or book a demo with our product specialist right here.

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Please reach out to us here if you have any questions or book a demo with our product specialist right here.