We don’t just love Piwik PRO for the increased capability to comply with the GDPR, we’ve found that compared with Google Analytics, it is easier to use/customize and that it collects more data about website users (both by providing access to raw data and capturing data from a wider range of users).

A Fatal Decision for Google Analytics

Earlier this year, businesses in the EU, particularly in Austria, moved en-masse away from Google Analytics to GDPR-compliant alternatives like Piwik PRO and Matomo. They were reacting to a ruling by the Austrian Data Protection Authority that declared Google Analytics to be illegal (or at least incompatible with the GDPR). If you missed it, we have an article explaining the Austrian Data Protection Authority (DSB), the ramifications of their recent ruling on Google Analytics, and why Piwik PRO is a great alternative to stay GDPR compliant. 

Here is the summary: In early 2022, the Austrian DSB scrutinized Google Analytics' lack of control over data residency and the legal mechanisms that require analytics software to hand over user details to U.S. authorities (when requested). As a result, they determined that the way Google Analytics operates makes it fundamentally incompatible with the GDPR. After this ruling, many are anticipating more legal hindrances to Google Analytics.

Advantages of Piwik PRO

We’re partners with Piwik PRO now, but we’ve been using their software since 2013/14 in client implementations and on our website. There are many other good aspects of Piwik PRO besides GDPR compliance:

Access to Raw Data

It isn't clear at first glance, but when your session volume reaches 500k, Google Analytics will only use a sample of data to extrapolate the rest. To an extent, this does make sense: Google is improving speed and saving on processing capability by inferring “close enough” insights.

However, raw data is far superior for running accurate analytics. While it can sometimes be more complex and time-consuming to process, it allows you to dig deeper into the data, and provide richer reporting in more contexts. In addition, when using 3rd party software for data processing, having access to raw data allows you to compile and compare across sources, vastly expanding the number of insights you can take from your input. Piwik PRO offers access to raw data, giving you higher accuracy and more flexibility in your reporting. 

More Data About Your Audience

Raw data isn't the only way to get closer to a complete view of your audience. Some analytics software can provide more detail about users too. Compared to Google Analytics, not only can Piwik PRO provide you with further detail about a wider segment of users, but the software also does so without violating your user privacy. Piwik PRO accomplishes this in 2 ways.

  • Circumvention of Ad Block Tech

Adblockers are widespread – in 2020 40% of web users in Germany and 43% in Austria used them in some way. While handy for users, a consequence of ad-block technology is that it can interfere with your analytics trackers. Plenty of adblockers will block Google Analytics by default or include the option to do so. This is possible because of how Google Analytics software integrates with your website.

While Google asks that you make a reference from your site to a javascript file hosted on their servers, other providers like Piwik PRO offer quick-to-integrate self-hosted solutions that sit in your website's Html. Self-hosted solutions give you more control over your analytics data and can be more difficult to block. Since only a few big players may be using analytics to sell their ads (we can think of one), most ad-block software won't bother trying to stop software like Piwik PRO. 

  • Session Level Data on Users Who Decline Cookies

To comply with the GDPR, you need to give your users the option to reject non-essential cookies, and a high amount of rejections can be punishing for your analytics. While some analytics software stops there, leaving gaps in your data, Piwik PRO circumvents this in a way that still respects user privacy and retains some level of tracking. Without saving anything on the user's device or saving/revealing data like location or IP address, you can still track session-level data like visit duration, page visits, and events on the site. The data from this tracking, although not complete, is collected in a way that will still respect the user's privacy wishes.

Top-notch User Experience and Customizability

It would be unrealistic to expect any platform handling large volumes of data to have no learning curve, but when it comes to minimizing the learning curve, we’ve found Piwik PRO to be above average. The UI is similar to Google Analytics so you won’t feel lost after making the switch, but we’ve found that the usability is greatly improved. If you're coming to Piwik PRO without experience on other platforms, we found the execution of the UI to be very straightforward, so you won't need to worry about not being able to find your way around.

Piwik PRO comes out of the box with a pre-made dashboard filled with the basic analytics data that you would expect from any provider. Getting up and running after you implement Piwik PRO is easy- you'll be able to find standard insights like session data or audience overviews immediately.

Once you’re ready to move beyond the out-of-the-box reporting, the custom dashboard editor is straightforward. Building custom reports is simple too; if you have experience with analytics dimensions you’ll figure it out fast. In both cases, with a drag and drop UI, you can quickly combine a seemingly endless amount of reports and dimensions, while generating previews on-the-fly before you finalize the details of your report or dashboard.

When tracking custom variables, Piwik PRO provides plenty of straightforward tutorials and offers click-by-click instructions to implement variable tracking focused on custom goals. As an additional advantage – unlike in Google Analytics – with Piwik PRO, you can pass along identifying data that allows you to stitch together your customer journey while still respecting user privacy.

Conclusion

While enhanced user privacy and GDPR compliance are the big draws for many companies, we don’t see that as the only advantage to switching to Piwik PRO. Access to raw data allows for enhanced analytics capability. You can increase the clarity of your analytics without interference from Ad block technology while tracking users within their cookie consent preferences. Additionally, the software has a familiar, streamlined UI with seriously useful features for customized reports. It won’t take long after making the switch to wonder why you hadn’t adopted a more flexible analytics software sooner.

Content
  1. A Fatal Decision for Google Analytics
  2. Advantages of Piwik PRO
  3. Conclusion