Nixon Digital

The Future Without Third-Party Cookies: Embracing SST for Data Processing

Hello there, I am Fabian Knop, the backend developer for the Nixon platform. 

Being the backend developer of a web compliance platform like ours means keeping track of current affairs like web compliance and tracking (among other topics). 

One of these recent developments is Google’s Server-Side Tagging (SST) feature for their Google Tag Manager (GTM). 

When SST was first released back in 2020, it was already seen as a very powerful feature, but it is now starting to become the standard when it comes to efficient GTM implementation. 

In this article, we will dive into what SST means and its growing importance in the tracking world. 

What Is Server-Side Tagging? 

An important question we have to answer before we dive into the importance of SST is, what exactly is SST? 

SST helps you manage and protect the data collected on your website. 

Instead of sending data directly from a user’s browser to different analytics and marketing tools, the data is sent to a secure server you control. 

Below are two diagrams: one illustrating the traditional GTM flow and one illustrating the GTM flow with SST configured. 

In the second diagram, you can clearly see how SST gives you an extra layer of control over the data being sent out. 

When SST is implemented, your server processes the data first, ensuring it’s accurate and secure before passing it on to other tools. 

Why Use Server-Side Tagging? 

Now that we know how SST works, we can dive into WHY it works. 

As discussed previously, with SST you are the owner of the data you collect and can decide what is sent out and how. 

This comes with three key benefits. 

  1. With an SST server setup, you can add your own customer parameters, which you can then validate in Google Analytics to prevent someone from sending spam tracking requests that would otherwise muddy your data. 

This spam is known as “measurement protocol spam” and has been notoriously hard to prevent in traditional GTM implementations. 

  1. The second key benefit is a reduced client load, and therefore increased website performance. The reason for this is that the validation, formatting, and dispatching of the gathered data can be moved to a server-side environment. Instead of having multiple pixels/third-party (JavaScript) scripts that all send requests to their corresponding parties, you can set up your server container to map any incoming HTTP request to the format required by the corresponding vendor. This means that you can replace almost all requests to third-party analytics providers with a single request to your server container. This greatly reduces the amount of (third-party) JavaScript run in your users’ browsers, leading to significantly improved website performance. This is considered the main benefit of using SST. 
  1. The third benefit is quite easily explained and has to do with content blocking by modern browsers. Most modern browsers contain a list of known tracker endpoints and can block these for the user to prevent them from being tracked. This can result in incomplete data. Using SST, your tracking requests will not be made to a domain like “,” but instead to your own domain, for example, “”. This way, browsers will not block your tracking requests, guaranteeing more complete data than you would otherwise get. 

Server-Side Tagging In The Nixon Platform

The Nixon platform provides (among many other things) an overview of your entire web portfolio. 

This becomes extremely powerful when managing implementations and monitoring the status of those implementations. 

A good example is your SST implementation. The Nixon platform is able to detect on a portfolio-wide scale whether SST has been implemented. 

Using this overview, you will be able to see which websites have implemented SST and which ones still need to be migrated. 

Then, after migrating, the platform provides a performance scan, including a historical overview, in which you can see the performance boost your websites gain after implementing SST.