What is S2S-Tracking?
With normal tracking (not S2S tracking) a pixel is usually integrated into the thank you page of the shop. If a user clicks on a banner, it receives a cookie with information about the click. If the user then places an order in the shop, the pixel is fired and can then read out the cookie again and recognize that the order is associated with the previous click. In some cases, however, it is not possible to integrate a pixel into a shop - S2S tracking may be used as an alternative here.
With S2S Tracking or Server-to-Server Tracking, the tracking information required for the AdServer to assign an order to a click is not transmitted via a cookie but transferred directly to the shop's server when the order is clicked. If the user later triggers an order, the shop sends the tracking information back to the ad server. The AdServer can then make the assignment without cookies having to be present or a pixel having to be integrated into the website.
Example Scenarios for S2S Tracking
Some examples where S2S tracking is commonly used:
- Tracking across different devices (e.g. click on an online banner and order via SMS)
- Tracking across different platforms (e.g. clicking on an online banner and triggering an order within a mobile app)
- Tracking in cases where cookies cannot be set (e.g. Safari browser, browser with AdBlocker etc.)
When does S2S-Tracking not work?
S2S tracking is usually limited to post-click tracking. If Post-View Tracking is also used, tracking information would have to be sent to the shop's server for each view of an advertising medium. However, this would usually overwhelm the shop's server.
S2S tracking as a data protection alternative?
It is important to understand that S2S tracking is not an alternative to privacy. If a user has refused the data processing of a website, all data processing can be considered as such. The rejection is therefore not limited to the integration of tracking codes on the website, but to the tracking itself/as a whole.
Implementation of S2S tracking in general
If S2S tracking is implemented, this is generally done in the following steps:
- If the user clicks on an advertising medium, he is usually first directed to the ad server and from there to the shop. The AdServer adds a parameter to the target URL (URL of the shop) in which it communicates the tracking information that is otherwise written in a cookie. The user reaches the shop and "brings the tracking information with him".
- The shop server recognizes that a parameter with tracking information is attached to the shop URL and saves it.
- The shop's server must now ensure that the user can be recognized within the shop. This is usually done either by a cookie (since first-party cookies are not blocked) or by simple fingerprinting (e.g. recognition of the user using browser+IP). The customer's server now links the user with the transmitted tracking data.
- If an action to be counted takes place (order, newsletter registration, etc.), the shop's server sends the user's tracking information back to the ad server by calling up the tracking URL and transmitting the tracking information via a parameter.
- The AdServer can then assign tracking information ("click has taken place") to the action ("order has taken place") and generate a corresponding report