Since its inception in late 2005, Google Analytics has been the subject of intense investigation. The following are some of the most commonly seen reasons for not using it:
- It's owned by Google, the world's biggest ad-tech business
- GDPR, CCPA, and other privacy legislation make it a liability
- Using it necessitates a hefty script that slows down your site
- For the majority of site owners, it's often overkill
- Because it depends on cookies, you'll need to get permission to store them
- Many plugins and browsers now prevent it, so the data isn't as accurate as it once was
- Have you read the lengthy privacy statement?
- It is misused by spam bots, which skews the data
- Because it's a private product, you'll have to put your faith in Google
- It degrades the user experience by necessitating the usage of obnoxious prompts
GA and the EU
In 2019, there were 200,000 complaints against German websites that used Google Analytics. In the end, some customers lost faith in Google Analytics as a result of the ongoing legal issues around the platform's suitability for privacy reasons. These accusations demonstrate how simple it is to use Google in a way that violates the GDPR.
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) declared on July 16, 2020, that any cloud services hosted in the United States are in violation of the GDPR and EU privacy legislation.
"Google runs a globally spread collection of data centres that is intended to preserve service continuity in the event of a catastrophe or other incident in a single location," Google explains on their help website. As a result, this can only be seen as Google keeping your data in several locations around the United States, Europe, and Asia.
With the beginning of the new year came some big announcements in the digital world: in Austria, the Data Protection Authority (Datenschutzbehörde) ruled that the use of Google Analytics was illegal - granted, only in a specific case, but the world senses a snowball effect.
Last week (February 2022), the French data protection regulator, the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), also announced that Google does not guarantee GDPR-compliant data protection. It looked at the conditions in which data is transported to the US through Google Analytics, much like Austria.
The transfer of personal data beyond the EU/EEA is forbidden under Article 44 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) unless the receiving nation offers appropriate data protection. In this case, the United States has significantly fewer privacy protections in place, leaving EU citizens unsure whether their data is being gathered, how it is being used, or with whom it is being shared.
Don't panic about using Google Analytics!
Though, don't worry if you do use Google Analytics. The Austrian Data Protection Authority's and the CNIL's rulings do not imply that Google Analytics will be outlawed in the EU. You'll be secure in this and future choices if you use Google Analytics in a transparent and compliant manner. Remember to utilise Google Analytics solely with the user's permission, accept Data Processing Amendments, anonymize IP addresses, and employ Server Side Tagging.
Still, let's take a look at a GDPR-compliant option.
Google Analytics versus Matomo (formerly Piwik)
Matomo is the most widely used open-source web analytics software, with over one million websites in 200 countries using it. But why use Matomo over Google Analytics, the most widely-known system? The answer is simple. You have full control over Matomo. Another significant benefit is that Matomo does not sample data. Matomo will always report all of your data, with no exceptions. With Matomo, there are no data limits!
You control what happens to your data and where it's kept with Matomo On-Premise. Matomo Cloud's secure servers are located in Germany, where websites must adhere to the GDPR, one of the most stringent privacy laws in the world.
Unlike remote-hosted services like Google Analytics, Webtrends, or Adobe Analytics, Matomo is installed on your own server, and the data is stored in your Mysql database. And that's how you have complete control over your data since Matomo is installed on your server. Plus, the Matomo APIs make it simple to retrieve the data.
Advanced or admin users can create advanced reports by using Custom Dimensions, Segmentation, or even manually querying the database. More, Matomo can be used to track the performance of your websites, mobile apps, and software applications, as well as intranet portals and intranet websites.
Most importantly, Matomo's sophisticated Privacy features also secure visitors' privacy. You assure that your visitors' behaviour on your website(s) is not shared with advertising agencies when you use Matomo for your analytics.
Plus, because Matomo is an open platform, you can customise and expand using plugins. Currently, the Marketplace has over 70 plugins available (both free plugins and paid premium ones). For even more specificity to your site, you can create your own Matomo plugin or hire professional developers to do it for you.
You might want to check out Matomo's full feature list or the online demo to make sure it's right for you. Matomo includes virtually all of the capabilities that other tools have, as well as some unique features including real-time visitor information, eCommerce analytics, visitor profiles, real-time visitor maps, and a great iOS and Android mobile app. Finally, their Roadmap is open to the public, and the public issue tracker allows members of the community to follow our progress. You can even keep track of your Android and iOS applications.
Why should you choose a Google Analytics substitute like Matomo?
Here are some of the benefits of using a Google Analytics alternative...
Using Google Analytics means you might lose sales and irritate visitors with tracking permission boxes. This isn't the case with Matomo. When utilising GA, you must get permission for tracking. Every website in Europe that uses Google Analytics must include a tracking consent box for visitors to accept or disagree with. Consent screens that track visitors have a negative influence on your company since visitors may be deterred from continuing.
You can acquire less accurate data as well as lose money since more people may opt out of tracking. Matomo Analytics can help you out in this situation. Matomo's privacy security is so effective that you can use it without asking for permission once it's set up. As a natural consequence, more accurate data is collected, consumers are less angry when they encounter permission screens, and the brand image is improved.
Matomo and Drupal
Integrating Analytics tools into a CMS like Drupal might be difficult at times. The Matomo Analytics module makes it simple to include Matomo tracking code into your Drupal website and begin monitoring visitor behaviour right away. Even people with no prior technical knowledge will be able to do this with ease.
Is it true that Google Analytics is completely free to use?
Yes, the standard version of Google Analytics is a free platform, but there are several costs to consider, including the time you spend learning how to utilise it. In addition, you may need to acquire additional bolt-ons from other firms, such as Heatmaps, to get a fuller picture of your visitors.
When it comes to Google Analytics, it takes more effort to set up tracking for media/forms/outlinks/downloads, etc., while Matomo records everything - right out of the box.
Heatmaps, Session Recordings, and Form Analytics are just a few of the capabilities offered by Matomo. This saves you time and makes your life simpler by eliminating the need to interact with various vendors for a comprehensive analytics package.
The good news is, if you're considering switching, Matomo allows you to import all of your previous Google Analytics data right into your account. You won't lose any progress or have to start from scratch. Simply pick up just where you left off in GA.
The downside of Google Analytics
As you now know, you'll have to give up some privacy since your information is utilised for Google's "own objectives." Google utilises the information they collect from you to create profiles of internet users for remarketing reasons. Because your analytics data is collected, held, and controlled by them, even if it's a free service, there are privacy compromises.
According to a Price Waterhouse Cooper piece of research, 71% of customers would cease doing business with a firm if their sensitive data was given out without their consent.
You don't control your data (and may jeopardise data protection) Google makes it obvious that by using their service, you grant them permission to keep and utilise the information you acquire.
Giving Google permission to view and utilise your data restricts your capacity to secure your visitors' info. Matomo, on the other hand, allows you complete control over your data. As a result, you have total control over what happens to your data and can completely secure it. You always have confidence that you are making user-beneficial choices based on a full data set, whether you're dealing with granular or big-picture data. And having complete control over our Matomo data is essential: you get to decide how it's saved, handled and erased.
It's important to know where your data is kept. Particularly important if you have to comply with privacy laws that mandate data sovereignty. You don't have a choice in where your data is kept with free Google Analytics, and you're unlikely to be notified precisely where your data is stored.
Google Analytics versus Matomo - Which is best?
Whilst Google Analytics is a terrific free analytics tool, there's a lot of grey area when it comes to privacy and data ownership. Particularly if you're based in the EU. If these are big worries for you, Matomo provides total assurance that you're doing all possible to remain ethical while developing your company and website.
Matomo is a comprehensive analytics platform that allows you to:
- You are not required to show a tracking consent screen
- Provides complete data ownership and security
- User privacy is respected, and you have a choice over what you do with your own data