Google Tag Manager Server Side Tracking and Google Optimize JavaScript API

August 17, 2020 - Written by

In the last few days Google launched two major updates: GTM Server Side Tracking was released in Beta version as well as Google Optimize JS APIs.

So what does that mean?

GTM Server Side Tracking

I believe it would be almost useless writing a detailed guide about the new tracking paradigm. Infact it would be merely a cut and paste of the contents you could retrieve directly from Simo Ahava’s blog which I really encourage you to read.

I’m going just to summarize the main distinctive features of the new TMS (Tag Management System) method:

  • Loading time reduction for the current scripts (e.g. Facebook pixel): that is client load time improved
  • Greater security and less spam bots: Server Side Tracking information will not be so “easy” to debug. Additionally we can get rid of the bot’s traffic by creating a “secret key” (a custom dimension) to be filtered in the admin panel into Google Analytics
  • Payloads clean up and validation: we can create clients that automatically “clean up” the data from PIIs before they are included into Google Analytics. Now we need to use the customTask, thanks to Simo Ahava.
  • Full Control and data ownership
  • Circumvent the main content blocker systems: as an example let’s think about Apple’s ITP (Intelligent Tracking Prevention)

If compared to the classic client side version we currently use, the ServerSide version presents variable costs depending on the number of requests sent.

Google Optimize JavaScript APIs

Google Optimize now provides the opportunity to connect third party CRO tools’ data with Optimize. That is, thanks to APIs, we will be able to build a connection between our CRO tool and Optimize.

So far, via Optimize APIs we have the following fields:

  • containerId
  • combination: if we are running an AB Test the output will be 0 (original), 1 (variation); if it was a multivariate test (MVTest), the output will be “0-1” (that is the combination between the element A0 with the element B1) and so on
  • experimentID

Hotjar is the first platform who took advantage of the APIs’ release. Now, differently from the workaround I talked about in the post, the new feature allows to:

  • Auto-detect Google Optimize experiments
  • Filter Hotjar recordings based on Optimize experiment ID and its variations
  • Filter the recording by combination
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