Google Tag Manager was released in 2012, and since then, it has made the lives of marketers and web analytics much easier. Before web GTM to add a new tracking pixel or events, you had to wait days/weeks/months until your request could be processed and pushed out onto the production site.
Though it took some time to learn the concept of the GTM, it became extremely popular. All because of its ability to consolidate tracking pixels and manage tracking infrastructure in one place.
In 2020 Google released the new version of Google Tag Manager – server container. Server GTM is not as popular as a web container yet. The main obstacles that prevent people from implementing server GTM are:
- Not all platforms support server-side tracking. You can use sGTM to set up Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook, Snowplow, Floodlight, TikTok, Mailchimp, Klaviyo, Active Campaign. But some other popular platforms like Bing or Pinterest do not support ss tracking yet.
- Lack of knowledge or experience. Though the server GTM interface looks similar to the web one, it might take some time to learn the key concepts and mechanism of server tracking.
- Price. To have server-side tagging, you need to pay. Using the sGTM interface is free, but it requires cloud servers. Cloud servers are not free, and the price mainly depends on traffic volume. And let’s be honest, most of us are not used to paying for tracking and analytics, and for smaller businesses paying $100/month for tracking can be sufficient.
In this blog post, I want to talk about the price of server Google Tag Manager hosted on Google Cloud. Why stape’s hosting for server GTM is cheaper and how we secure our user’s data.
How much does the server Google Tag Manager cost?
The bad news is that Google does not yet have an online calculator that estimates prices for you. I suggest using this tool to evaluate the sGTM cost. Here you will need to add values to the fields Hits Per Month, Egress Hit Size in byte, cost per egress GB, Cost per App Engine Instance per month, Minimum Instances, Request per sec per instance and will get an estimated price of Google Cloud’s App Engine for your site.
How to find these values? Let’s take a step back and check Google’s official documentation on what resources App Engine requires.
Google recommends having at least 3 servers in a production environment to reduce the risk of losing data due to a server outage. Each server is an App Engine instance with 1 vCPU, 0.5 GB memory, 10 GB disk in the Flexible environment. In a flexible environment, Google can autoscale from 3 to more servers if they see the need. They expect that 3-6 servers will handle 50-200 requests per second. Each server costs approximately $40 / month, so the production environment’s monthly price would be a minimum of 3*$40=$120.
For websites with higher traffic volume and number of tags, Google Cloud will autoscale to 5-6 servers, leading to $240-$300 a month.
Additional costs may arise if you do not disable logging when deploying server GTM. By default, all requests will be recorded, and it may add around $100 for 500 000 requests.
To sum up, the price of server Google Tag Manager hosted in Google Cloud will be:
- Minimum $120/month.
- For websites with higher traffic and tags, the price will increase to $240-$300/month.
- Logs will cost additionally $100 for 500 000 requests.
Can you use the testing configuration of Google Cloud in production?
The default deployment or test GCP environment uses a single server and, in most cases, is free. But there are several circumstances when costs may occur:
- The billing account you used is not new and already linked to another project. In other words, you can have only one test GCP environment for one billing account.
- The number of requests exceeds the free tier limits.
Google does not recommend using a Test GCP environment on production. And they even named it a Test environment and not a Free environment.
What could go wrong with the test environment? The test environment uses one instance, and the most common problem is that this instance stops working. To make it work, you should either wait or log in to the Google Cloud and fix the problem.
The second most widespread problem is that users exceed the free tier limit and server tracking stops working.
Another reason is sGTM updates. If you use a test environment with one instance, then this instance will be down for the period when it’s running an update. On the other side, with three servers in production, they will be updated one by one, which means you won’t lose any data.
One of the most widely spread misunderstandings with test GCP is that some people think that adding a credit card to Google Cloud automatically updates the setup to the production environment. But it’s not true. To upgrade from test to production, you need to run the shell script.
Assume all these reasons, I would not recommend using the test Google Cloud environment in the production of server GTM. The main reason is the chances that one server will be down is very high. And when it’s down, and your tracking won’t work.
Why is Stape’s hosting cheaper than Google Cloud’s App Engine?
We host stape.io servers in Google Cloud. There are two main reasons why stape.io is cheaper than Google’s Cloud App Engine:
- We pay for the Google Cloud servers in bulk and in advance. If you buy multiple servers and for a long time (more than a year), servers cost less.
- We optimize our servers for working with GTM SS, where Google App Engine servers are optimized to work with any kind of software.
There are many ways to optimize the server’s costs, and most likely, sGTM users won’t bother doing it themselves.
For now, stape.io hosting has two plans: Pro and Business.
Pro plan costs $20/month and covers Google’s minimum production environment – 3 instances and up to 500 000 requests/month.
The Business plan uses 5 servers with up to 5 000 000 monthly requests.
How does stape.io calculate requests?
We count any request sent to your Google Tag Manager Server container. It includes all script loads like gtm.js, analytics.js, gtag.js, etc. The number of requests highly depends on your website traffic and the number of tags.
To make the calculation extremely simple, you can multiply the number of pageviews in GA by 10. It will be the approximate number of requests.
So Pro plan works for around 50 000 pageviews/month. To know the number of sessions, you should divide this number by your Pages / Session.
The Business plan fits a website with approximately 500 000+ pageviews/month depending on tags count.
What about stape’s data security?
Stape does not store or process any data from your containers. All we do is automatically set up a tagging server for you when you create a container in our hosting.
Stapes’s physical infrastructure is hosted and managed within Google Cloud secure data centers and utilizes the Google Cloud Platform technology.
GCP provides built-in protection and a global network that Google uses to protect your information, identities, applications, and devices.
All GTM Server containers are isolated from one another for security purposes. Stape uses Google Kubernetes Engine with recommended security settings to ensure that access is appropriately restricted for all customers.
Server Google Tag Manager is a great way to control your data and stay compliant with regulations. But it can also be expensive, especially when you consider the hosting costs for servers that are necessary to run server Google Tag Manager. The minimum price of a production environment on Google Cloud will be $120/month, and it can grow up to $250-$300 for websites with a higher volume of traffic and tags.
Stape’s hosting offers the same setup at just $20/month ($100 per month for sites with more than 500 000 requests). Using stape, you can set up a tagging server for your sGTM in a couple of minutes, and it does not require any technical skills.