What is server-to-server (S2S)?

Glossary Server-to-server (S2S)

How does server to server tracking work?

Server-to-server (S2S) tracking, also known as server-side tracking, is one method app publishers use to send mobile measurement platforms (MMPs) event data. If you track ad revenue yourself, you can share this data with your measurement partner to view it alongside all of your other MMP-tracked metrics. This gives a complete overview of your campaign performance, letting you calculate your users’ lifetime value (LTV) and optimize your campaign

Benefits of using S2S tracking

S2S does require a heavier upfront workload to integrate than some other tracking methods. However, there are several benefits to using S2S tracking. Primarily, a developer does not need to embed a software development kit (SDK) in order to track data flow between servers. For this reason, using S2S tracking is particularly useful for companies who wish to not use an SDK.

There are a number of factors that contribute to app developers choosing S2S over an SDK including:

  • The ability to publish app changes quicker: The publisher does not need to wait for the SDK to be embedded before publishing, and campaigns can be tracked without having to make code changes.
  • Maximum data control: Since the MMP does not retrieve the data first-hand through an SDK, the app developer has control over which data they share with an attribution partner.
  • App download size: Every SDK that is added to an app increases its size.
  • Simplicity: Keeping a tidy app is more difficult when using multiple ad networks which each have their own SDKs. So it can be useful to not need to embed yet another SDK.
  • Accurate web tracking: The ClickID is only generated once a click has already occurred, and cookie-related fraud can be avoided by only tracking the ClickID with S2S. (However, keep in mind that without correctly implemented data authentication by the app developer there is an increased risk of fraud.)
  • Quality event tracking: Verify app events with an external service before sending them to Adjust.

Drawbacks to using S2S tracking

Although there are many benefits to using S2S, there are also some drawbacks. When using S2S, you will not have access to Adjust’s:

  • Automatic deferred deep linking: While it is possible to perform without Adjust’s SDK, it requires your backend to request the deferred deep link from our backend attribution API and relay that information to the app.
  • Attribution callbacks: For example, if a user has reinstalled the app, the Adjust SDK would send this information back to your app on the device.
  • Automatic Apple Search Ads tracking: You will have to build out separate support on your side to integrate Apple's Attribution API.
  • Fraud prevention: Without the detailed information that the Adjust SDK receives, we are unable to help protect your app against spoofing and Google Play Store click injection.
  • SKAdNetwork (SKAN) attribution: To properly work with SKAN—including SKAN 4’s new features—and conversion values, apps will need to have their MMP’s up-to-date SDK implemented.

What is a server-to-server integration with Adjust?

Adjust supports the option of S2S tracking for clients that decide against SDK integration. We can use S2S Application Program Interface (API) integrations to let you connect your app to Adjust without using the Adjust SDK or making any changes to your app code. Specifically, the S2S events API lets Adjust track your events via HTTP requests, while the S2S session API tracks each user session in your app.

Once you have sent your data to Adjust via server-to-server, you’ll be able to view it in your dashboard Statistics and Cohorts. You’ll also benefit from Adjust’s S2S Security, which protects your ad revenue against spoofed requests.

Learn more about how Adjust’s Datascape brings all of your data together in one place. Or, learn more about setting up S2S with Adjust.

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