Server-Side vs. Server-Side: The Ultimate Data Debate

Navigating the Complexities of Tagging and Tracking for Optimal Data Strategy

Server-Side vs. Server-Side: The Ultimate Data Debate

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And once again, welcome… to Dutchy Spills The Tea. But why do I spill tea and not beans? Well, tea because I’m British (though this would also work if I were Turkish or Chinese), and no beans because I hate beans. Of the baked variety.

But what is the proverbial tea I’m meant to be discharging from the cup today?

Feast your ears upon the follow-up to my wildly successful video on client-side vs. server-side. Yes, this is server-side tagging versus server-side tracking.

Server-Side Tagging: A Clever Ruse?

Let's start with the elephant in the room – the so-called "server-side tagging" approach most frequently employed by those looking to cover their bases. It's a clever ruse, really. You see, they've still got client-side tags running on their websites, merrily collecting data and then piping it server-side. Most ‘server-side’ tag managers or solutions do this by default, and for the vast majority of websites looking into the near-future, this will be enough.

Full Server-Side Tracking: The Better Way?

But what if I told you that there's a better way? A way that doesn't involve any client-side tomfoolery? Indeed, I'm talking about the elusive "full server-side tracking" approach; promising unparalleled control and security.

Imagine a world where your data collection happens entirely on the server, free from the prying eyes of any sneaky client-side interlopers. No more worrying about user privacy, no more fretting over data leaks. It's like winning the lottery for the data-conscious among us.

The Challenges of Server-Side Tracking

However, this approach comes with its own set of challenges. Limited visibility into those delightful client-side interactions, incomplete session data... it's enough to make even the most hardened data analyst weep into their spreadsheets. You see, certain actions must remain client-side to function correctly, such as DOM manipulation and capturing precise user interactions like mouse movements, scroll tracking, and click coordinates.

When you rely solely on server-side tracking, you're flying blind when it comes to these crucial client-side interactions. Without them, you're essentially left with an incomplete understanding of how your users are actually engaging with your website or application. And then there's the issue of incomplete session and engagement data. With server-side tracking, you're relying on server requests to capture user interactions. But what about the valuable data points in between? Time spent on a page, bounce rates, and session durations can become skewed when you're working with server-side data alone.

For a business, these data gaps can have real consequences. Trying to optimise an e-commerce website without clear visibility into how users interact with product listings or shopping carts could be nigh-on impossible.

The Hybrid Approach: Best of Both Worlds

So, what's the solution, you ask? Well, the answer lies in a delicate balance, a yin and yang of data collection, if you will. A hybrid approach, combining the best of both worlds: the security and control of server-side tracking, with just a sprinkle of client-side magic to fill in the gaps.

Now, let's get specific about this hybrid approach, shall we? Best practice would dictate removing all those pesky third-party tags and keeping only the essential client-side tags that collect session data or those coveted client-side interactions and events. After all, why let those third-party interlopers have unfettered access to your precious data? By keeping your website lean and mean, you'll not only improve performance but also maintain control over the data that's shipped to third parties. No more data leaks, no more privacy concerns – just you and your data, living in harmonious bliss.

MetaRouter: Your Guide Through the Data Wonderland

And here's where things get really interesting. MetaRouter is a veritable Swiss Army knife of data collection, helping you navigate this hybrid wonderland. With MetaRouter, you can seamlessly integrate both server-side and client-side tracking, ensuring no data point is left behind. You can have complete control over every byte of data that leaves your website, with the ability to filter, transform, and route it to any destination of your choosing.

Fully server-side? No problem - you can use MetaRouter’s SDKs and integrations to gather rich contextual and attributable data. Fancy some client-side action? No problem, MetaRouter will deploy a single tag to rule all others. Or rule them out entirely.

And let's not forget about the holy grail of data collection – real-time data streaming. With MetaRouter, you can unlock the power of streaming your data in real-time, opening up a world of possibilities for real-time analytics, personalization, and decision-making.

Embrace the Hybrid Approach

So, my fellow data enthusiasts, I implore you: embrace the hybrid approach to get as close to ‘fully server-side’ as possible, and get future-proof sooner rather than later. Remove those third-party tags, keep your client-side interactions in check, and let MetaRouter be your guide through this data-driven wonderland. The world of data is ever-evolving, and those who fail to adapt risk being left behind in a cloud of obsolescence and stale analytics.

Again, I would be remiss in not pointing out that there are other tools that can help in a similar way, but I am unaware of a tool with the flexibility, scalability and reach of MetaRouter. But I am unashamedly biased. Obviously.

Ta, and thanks for watching!