Published in Business -

What are the biggest advantages of server-side analytics?

Client-side analytics is so well-established as the default setting across industry that you might not be aware there are alternatives. Better alternatives. One of those is server-side analytics.

Why better? Because it gives you a better data picture, decreasing distortion and increasing reliability.

But it’s better for other reasons, as well. In this short video, senior data analyst Mike McCusker talks about the three main advantages a marketing team will get from the switch from client-side to server-side analytics:


Shifting from client-side to server-side analytics is a technical change, but more than that it’s a way of mitigating risk. Animals Australia, which made the change from client-side to server-side analytics, is a great example of that.

And, as Mike mentions in the video above, that risk falls into three main categories:


One risk that comes with using a client-side analytics configuration is that there’s potential for lower data accuracy. That leads to a distorted data picture on which to base marketing decisions.

Why is server-side more accurate? For a variety of reasons, one being that it’s not affected by things that commonly act as a data obstacle. We’re talking about:

Ad blockers

An ad blocker is… well the name says it all. It’s an application that makes sure you don’t see advertisements on websites. It does that by blocking the requests that websites make to ad servers. They also prevent a user’s activity from showing up on analytics when you’re using a client-side configuration. But that’s not the case with server-side.

Third-party cookies

Cookies are packages of information that a server creates and then sends to a web browser. There’s nothing inherently ‘wrong’ with them; in fact, for more than 30 years, cookies have been essential in tracking website visitors and their behaviour.

As handy as they’ve been for anyone interested in knowing more about the way users navigate and interact with a website, a certain kind of cookie, known as a third-party cookie, presents problems for user privacy. Many of the largest technology companies in the world—Google, Apple and Mozilla among them—understand this and have decided to phase out support for browser cookies in the very near future.

That’s a problem for organisations that have until now been reliant on third-party cookies to get a picture of why someone visits a website and what they do when they get there.

But this “deprecation” (as it’s sometimes known) of third-party cookies, won’t be a problem for organisations that use a server-side analytics configuration.

Control and data security

Another risk that comes from using the default client-side configuration for your analytics relates to the control you have over data – and data security more broadly.

Server-side analytics can offer more control over data collection and processing, because it doesn’t rely on:

Third-party scripts

Third-party scripts are pieces of code that are hosted on a third-party server and loaded onto a website by the user’s browser. They provide functionality to a website related to things like advertising, analytics, and social media links.

Third-party scripts fall into a similar category to third-party cookies: there’s nothing inherently wrong with the scripts; it’s the “third-party” element that causes problems. When anything – a cookie, a script, a piece of data – is outside your control, it immediately creates greater risk.

And the fact is, malicious actors do use third-party scripts to inject malware, gather personal data without consent, and as a soft spot in a website – a potential weakness that makes a breach more likely.


As mentioned above, third-party cookies can compromise user privacy, as well as the compliance of an organisation subject to General Data Protection Regulation and other tightening privacy laws.

It’s worth noting that with a sever-side configuration, cookies are first-party. That means you serve them via the same domain as your site. This brings great flexibility in what data you store and how long you store it.


Client-side analytics doesn’t give you anywhere near us much opportunity to customise your data as server-side analytics does. This is risky for two main reasons.

The first is that you might not get the data you need; instead, you get the data you’re given – the default set of datapoints controlled by a platform like Google Analytics. This relates closely to the accuracy risk we mentioned above.

The second is that without the ability to customise, you lose the ability to choose which data to pass on. This relates closely to the control and security risk we mentioned above.

Server side analytics can enable more complex and customised analysis and reporting, as organisations that use the configuration:

  • Have access to the full server logs and databases.
  • Can integrate with other server-side tools and platforms.
  • Can put controls on the data, including:
    • Augmentation, which can increase the robustness and model performance of data.
    • Redaction, a process of removing certain kinds of data (for example, data that’s sensitive, confidential or irrelevant) from a dataset. It might be done to protect privacy, to comply with regulation, or to improve accuracy.
    • Direction, in other words, where the data is sent. The server-side container that processes data is entirely under your control. You choose what is collected and who that data is sent to.

Want to know more about server-side analytics?

If you’re interested in taking control of your data, get in touch. We’d love to chat.