One way universities can improve their website performance and increase website conversions is by implementing server-side tagging on their website.

In this case study, we explore how a university partnered with New Path Digital to implement server-side tagging on its website. The result was a significant improvement in website conversions, a decrease in cost-per-acquisition (CPA), and an increase in reach.

The University’s Challenge

The university was experiencing increased page-load speeds, a reduction in web page conversions, and a loss of critical data necessary to build audiences for personalization and digital remarketing. These are a result of the following:

1. Ad Blockers

Many website visitors use ad-blockers and other browser extensions. These can block client-side tracking codes on the web and landing pages from loading. This can lead to incomplete or inaccurate data. This data is often useful for optimizing and personalizing marketing campaigns, developing audiences for remarketing, and measuring their success.

2. Slow Page Load Times

Client-side tracking code needs to be downloaded and executed on the user’s device, which can slow down page load times. Slow page load times can lead to poor user experience and lower SEO rankings.

Additionally, many users access websites through mobile devices, which have limited processing power and memory.

3. View-Through Conversion Attribution

Client-side tagging lacks the ability to track view-through conversions, which refer to a scenario wherein users see an ad but do not interact with it immediately, instead, they convert at a later time (usually within 24 hours). This deficiency often results in an incomplete and distorted view of the actual effectiveness of an advertisement campaign.

Server-Side Tagging: What is it?

Server-side tagging, as opposed to client-side tagging, is a method of collecting data about website visitors by placing the tracking code on the server side instead of the client side. This means that tracking requests are sent from the server to the analytics tool rather than being executed in the user’s browser.

With server-side tagging, data is collected directly from the server before being sent to the analytics tool. This ensures data is more accurate as it’s not affected by ad-blockers or other client-side issues.

Additionally, since the tracking code is placed on the server side, there is less code on the client side which leads to faster page load times. Faster page load times lead to better user experience (UX), improved Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and improved conversion rate.

A Partner Approach

The university partnered with New Path Digital to implement server-side tagging on its website for several reasons, including:

  • Expertise

New Path Digital has more expertise in implementing server-side tagging, and knowledge of best practices, than the university’s internal team.

  • Resources

Implementing server-side tagging requires resources such as time, skills, and technology. New Path Digital provided these resources allowing the university to focus on its core business activities.

  • Cost-Effectiveness

By partnering with New Path Digital, the university did not need to invest in the necessary technology, infrastructure, or personnel.

  • Data Privacy

By partnering with New Path Digital, the university ensured they were meeting data privacy regulations and that user data was being handled appropriately.

Tagging Implementation

New Path Digital used Google Tag Manager (GTM) to implement server-side tagging because of its features and ease of use.

As part of the planning and implementation, it was important to consider the technical aspects that were key to success. Some of the key considerations included:

  • Server-Side Container

Setting up a server-side container, which acts as a central hub for managing and deploying tags. The container should have the capability to receive incoming requests, process tags, and send data to various marketing and analytics platforms.

  • Server-Side Tag Management

Implementing a server-side tag management system that allows marketers to easily configure and update tags without requiring manual code changes. This provides a user-friendly interface to manage tags, trigger rules, and define data transformations.

  • Tag Configuration

Configuring the tags within the server-side container according to the desired tracking requirements. This includes defining the tags to be fired, specifying the triggering conditions, and setting up any necessary data mappings or transformations.

  • Data Routing

Determining the appropriate data routing strategy within the server-side container. This involves deciding which data should be sent to which marketing platforms, analytics tools, or third-party services. It may require creating custom rules or mappings to ensure the correct data is sent to each destination.

  • Server-Side APIs

Utilizing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) provided by marketing platforms or analytics tools to establish connections between the server-side container and the platforms. This enables seamless data transfer and integration, allowing marketers to leverage the full capabilities of their preferred tools.

  • Data Layer

Implementing a robust data layer within the website infrastructure to capture and structure relevant data. The data layer acts as a foundation for server-side tagging, ensuring that the necessary information is available for tags to process and send to the server-side container.

  • Testing and Quality Assurance

Conducting thorough testing and quality assurance procedures to ensure the correct implementation of server-side tagging. Testing various scenarios, data mappings, and tag firing conditions to verify that the desired tags are being triggered and the data is accurately sent to the intended destinations.

  • Performance Optimization

Monitoring and optimizing the performance of server-side tagging to ensure minimal impact on page load times. This may involve techniques such as asynchronous tag loading, caching, or prioritization to enhance the overall website performance.

  • Scalability and Maintenance

Considering the scalability of the server-side tagging infrastructure, especially for websites with high traffic or complex tracking requirements. Ensuring that the infrastructure can handle increased load and that maintenance procedures are in place to manage ongoing tag updates or changes.

Outstanding Results

As a result of implementing server-side tagging, the university witnessed significant improvements in its website performance, including:

  • 100% Increase in Webpage Conversions
  • 57% Decrease in Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA)
  • 350% Increase in Reach


This case study highlights the impact of server-side tagging on improving webpage conversions. By implementing a server-side tagging solution, the university was able to achieve a 100% increase in conversions, resulting in improved ROI, more qualified leads, and a better user experience.

Server-side tagging offers several advantages over client-side tagging, including better data accuracy, faster page load times, more control and flexibility, and improved data privacy. However, implementing server-side tagging requires planning, technical expertise, and ongoing maintenance.

If you’re interested in how New Path Digital can help you increase your conversion rates and optimize your website to drive growth for your organization, schedule a free consultation with our team.

Blog Last Updated on 12 months by New Path Digital

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