One of the biggest perks of working with server-side tagging is that you can establish a first-party context between the site sending the data and the server-side tagging endpoint itself. This leads to many benefits, including improved control of the data streams, the possibility to set cookies that extend beyond ITP’s restrictions, and reduced stress on an already very likely overloaded Content Security Policy. However, by default you only map a single custom domain to any given tagging server.
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Ever since it was released that server-side tagging in Google Tag Manager would run on the Google Cloud Platform stack, my imagination has been running wild. By running on GCP, the potential for integrations with other GCP components is limitless. The output to Cloud Logging already introduces interesting pipeline opportunities, but now it gets even better. It’s finally possible to write directly to Google BigQuery from a Client or tag template!
There’s a new custom variable template in town! The Data Layer Picker template lets you create variables that have a singular, exceptional (in Google Tag Manager’s context, at least) purpose: You can access the keys and values that were in the object pushed into dataLayer itself. And … that’s it! Read on to understand why this might be useful. Tip 123: Direct access to the dataLayer.push() If you know your Data Layer Variable, you’ll know that it comes in two versions.
One of the largest costs in a server-side tagging can be logging. Google warns about this in their official documentation, and it’s definitely something to keep a keen eye on if your server-side endpoint processes enough data per month. How much should it process for logging to become an issue? It depends, but you could start seeing some impact once the endpoint processes >1 million incoming requests per month. The best way to find out if logging is a problem is to visit the Billing dashboard in your server-side tagging Google Cloud project and check what the portion of Log Volume is in your monthly costs.
This will likely be the shortest blog article I have ever written, but I have just one short thing to say: SIMMER IS LIVE! Simmer is a new online course platform, where we bring technical marketing courses to your computer (or mobile device) screen with a straightforward, task-based approach. Our first class is aptly Server-side Tagging In Google Tag Manager, and it is open for enrollment right now, all the way until March 14th.
Updated 26 May 2021: Added details about the new Namespace Objects option in the template. Core Web Vitals is described on the dedicated web.dev resource as (emphasis mine): “Core Web Vitals are the subset of Web Vitals that apply to all pages, should be measured by all site owners, and will be surfaced across all Google tools.” Recommended Core Web Vitals thresholds - from https://web.dev/vitals/ The Core Web Vitals measurement as suggested by Google are:
One of the big omissions, at least for now, in Google Analytics 4 is the customTask. It is unfortunate, but no such mechanism exists in the client-side SDKs. This means that you won’t be able to do all the magical things that customTask enables in Universal Analytics. One of the biggest headaches is how to collect extremely useful fields such as the Client ID, as these are not available by default in the Google Analytics 4 reporting interface.