The call for privacy-friendly Google Analytics alternatives has never been this high. More and more businesses are turning their back on Google Analytics after the French and Austrian 'Data Watchdogs' considered it is violating privacy regulations.
But what is the best alternative to Google Analytics? With more and more options entering the market, it might be hard to distinguish these alternatives from one another. That's why we decided to do some research.
We've already written an in-depth comparison focusing on the privacy part. However, privacy is only one part of the equation (albeit the most important one). This article focuses on the other parts: Data insights, ease of use, data interoperability, and costs.
Consider this part 2.
In this article we'll be benchmarking the privacy-friendly Google Analytics alternatives on the following properties:
- Data Insights: What insights do they provide?
- Ease of use: How easy is it to get started?
- Data Interoperability: How easily does it work with other tools?
- Costs: How expensive is it to use?
- Google Analytics Alternatives
- Simple Analytics
Let's dive in!
Google Analytics Alternatives
Google Analytics is the default web analytics tool for the majority of the internet. 80% of the websites using an analytics tool are using Google Analytics. It's a free and very powerful tool that tracks every move of every website visitor.
Google Analytics is the number one in the web analytics market regarding data insights, but it faces many issues concerning privacy and ease of use. Therefore, the market for Google Analytics alternatives is growing.
Like our last comparison article, we'll compare the same four alternatives we believe are worth looking into:
Full disclosure: This article is written by Simple Analytics. Yes, we might be biased, but we try our best to benchmark Simple Analytics as independently as possible.
Simple Analytics dashboard
Collecting sessions over multiple days is not possible with Simple Analytics. It is still possible to differentiate page views and unique visitors based on the referrer domain. This is less accurate than tracking sessions but more privacy-friendly. However, the page views reported by Simple Analytics are more accurate than Google Analytics because you don’t need cookie consent using Simple Analytics. Unlike Google Analytics, Simple Analytics bypasses adblockers by default.
It is also possible to use UTM codes to see which specific sources generate traffic to your website, and you can track events. We've set up an automated events script that collects downloads, outbound links, clicks on email links, and you can add your custom events.
Whereas Google Analytics welcomes you with 75 reports and multiple dashboards, Simple Analytics has a one-page dashboard that shows you the most important metrics in a straightforward overview.
Everything is clickable in the overview, so segmenting is easy. Simple Analytics also visualizes source links. For example, clicking on 'Twitter' in the referrer section gives you an overview of Twitter traffic and shows the exact tweets that caused the traffic spike.
In addition, Simple Analytics is a lightweight analytics tool (3kb). Switching from Google Analytics (45kb) will increase your page load speed, increasing your website visitors' user experience.
It's possible to import your Google Analytics data directly into Simple Analytics, so you won't lose any historical data by switching to Simple Analytics. It's also easy to export your data from Simple Analytics using the API. In addition, there are multiple integrations with dashboarding tools like Power Bi and Google Data Studio.
Simple Analytics has two plans. The Starter plan and the Business plan.
- Starter Plan: 19$ (or 9$ on a yearly deal) for up to 100,000 page views per month.
- Business plan 59$ (or 49$ on a yearly plan) for up to 1 million page views per month.
- After 1 million pageviews, Simple Analytics offers custom deals.
Plausible is closer to Simple Analytics than Google Analytics and is also built by a small team focused on privacy and ease of use.
In comparison to Simple Analytics, they provide more data but are also less privacy-friendly as collecting IP-hashes is still considered personal data.
Plausible looks similar to Simple Analytics in that they use a one-page dashboard to show key metrics. It also works the same in that everything is clickable, and segmenting is easy. The UI looks good, and it's built in an intuitive way.
Plausible is also a lightweight web analytics tool (1kb). The impact on your page load speed is, therefore, very low. Switching from Google Analytics to Plausible will positively affect your page load speed.
For a few weeks, it's now possible to import data from Google Analytics directly into Plausible. You won't have to deal with a loss of historical data moving to Plausible. It also has an API to export your data. However, this is limited to aggregated data. Simple Analytics offers both raw and aggregated data. This makes it possible to analyze your data yourself on a very deep level. From the docs on their website, we don't see any integrations with dashboarding tools like Power Bi or Google Data Studio.
Plausible is open source. If you are technical, you can host your analytics. This means you still need to pay for hosting and make sure to keep the software up to date yourself. Plausible also offers paid solutions:
- 9$ Per month for up to 10,000 pageviews.
- 19$ Per month for up to 100,000 pageviews
- 69$ Per month for up to 1 million pageviews
Matomo is the oldest alternative to Google Analytics. They teamed up with Piwik Pro in the early days but went on their own again in 2018. Their focus is more on data insights and less on the privacy of the people where this data is collected of.
From the screenshot of their dashboard above, you can see that it needs a lot in common with Google Analytics. Matomo welcomes you with multiple dashboards and reports. It is more complex than the easily segmentable one-page Simple Analytics and Plausible dashboard. In addition, the page load speed is also impacted when installing Matomo on your website. Their script is seven times larger than Simple Analytics’ script (22kb).
Matomo is a comprehensive tool, but it has many directions and tutorials to understand how it works. For example, it's possible to use Matomo in a cookieless version, but it takes you through many tutorials and custom steps to get started.
You can import your historical data from Google Analytics in Matomo. However, this is a long and complex tutorial, so if you are brave, you are fine. However, it offers an integration with Google Data studio, not with other dashboarding tools.
Matomo is open source and can be used for free on-premise. If you are technical, you can host your analytics. They also offer a paid version:
- 35$ for up to 100,000 pageviews
- 159$ for up to 1 million pageviews
For an in-depth comparison between Matomo and Simple Analytics, you should check this article.
Fathom has the philosophy of displaying a straightforward dashboard with all the key metrics and focuses on privacy. It is very similar to Plausible and Simple Analytics in a lesser sense.
Fathom doesn’t install cookies and only collects hashes of IP addresses for 24 hours. They take the same approach as Plausible. Collecting IP hashes provides more data while staying on the good side concerning privacy. However, IP hashes are still considered personal data and might lead to privacy issues in the future.
The impact on page load speed, however, is also minimal. Switching from Google Analytics to Fathom would positively affect your page load speed.
From their documentation, we could not find if it was possible to import Google Analytics data into Fathom. However, in their latest blog post, they suggest they are building something that would make this possible.
Through their API, it is already possible to export your data directly into your favorite dashboarding tools. However, similar to plausible, this is limited to aggregated data. Fathom does not offer the possibility to export raw level data.
Fathom is not open source. They only offer a paid solutions:
- 14$ for up to 100,000 pageviews
- 54$ for up to 1 million pageviews
The conclusion of this piece: There is no single 'best' alternative.
It ultimately depends on your needs in terms of data and your stance toward privacy. There is a privacy trade-off: The more data you want to collect on the individual level, the more privacy-invasive tools you will need.
The Privacy Trade-off
You need to decide how important the privacy of your visitors is to you and what data you really need to make decisions.
Data-hungry organizations will be more likely to use either Matomo or Google Analytics, as those two provide the most data. Whereas privacy-conscious organizations that want to see what's happening on their website but don't need to track everyone individually will opt for Simple Analytics, Plausible, or Fathom.
Privacy-friendly solutions are here to stay. Choose the one that fits your needs while preserving the privacy of your users. They will be thankful.