GTM Server Side: Could this be a Customer Data Platform?
In the chess-like world of the tech industry, particular attention is paid to every new functionality launched by giants like Amazon, Microsoft or Google. In the past few days, Google has finally announced the launch of Google Tag Manager (GTM) server-side in public beta mode. This functionality brings a structural change to the way in which data collection will be handled. What is GTM server-side and what advantages are associated with this new technology? Do you have to migrate to the new functionality? If so, what is it capable of? And lastly, could it be considered a Customer Data Platform (CDP)?
GTM server-side will lighten the load on the browser by hiding the tracking process and relaying the number of network changes. The platform enables third-party technologies to be hosted in the cloud (libraries, media pixels, etc.). It also enables you to offer improved page performance, but above all it allows data management in a first-party context.
In other words, for those familiar with the jargon, any information exposed to the data layer by a push will become, by way of GTM server-side, an HTTP request to the server hosting your GTM account (Google App Engine).
By disengaging GTM from the browser, Google has positioned itself discreetly in the market for CDPs, platforms intended for the management and activation of structured omni-source and omni-destination data. If this is the first time you’ve heard of the term CDP, you might like to read this article, Everything You Need to Know About Customer Data Platforms (CDPs). If you’re up to date on the latest trends in terms of cookies, it’s easy to conclude that Google seems to be unveiling its strategy for the management and activation of omni-source data in a post-ITP2 universe. This approach enables greater control within the data stream, from data collection to its activation for various purposes. Basically, GTM will become the bridge between your website or mobile app and the robust infrastructure of the cloud (which is capable of hosting any kind of data processing infrastructure), while offering the possibility of managing the way in which cookies are read and written on the server-side. This approach makes GTM not just robust, but flexible.
In light of this announcement, the complete potential of GTM server-side would be realized—and its new cost justified—through the management of data going in and coming out. Basically, there will only be a return on investment (ROI) if your data cycle requires multi-source management, as well as an activation phase for omnichannel destinations (Facebook, Hubspot, Mixpanel, Salesforce, etc.). If the only destination for the data is Google Analytics, the ROI will be diminished (aside from the possibility of mitigating ITP). And don’t forget: The integration of this functionality requires wide availability of your internal resources, both technological and human.
One could easily compare GTM server-side with the beginnings of a CDP solution (if multiple destinations are configured on the platform). Combined with its Google Cloud Platform infrastructure, Google is finally enabling its users to exploit an infrastructure where all management and (especially) activation of customer data is done within a first-party context.