Vermeldingen van Simple Analytics in de pers.

BNR Nieuwsradio

25 mei 2021 · live link · archive link

Get rid of Google Analytics. A large majority of websites with tracking use Google Analytics. The handy tool from the American tech giant is popular for a reason, as Google also controls other domains, such as advertising and search. Still, Google Analytics is under fire in more and more countries, based on the AVG. Simple Analytics, a Dutch company, should offer a privacy-friendly alternative to Google's. Whether they stand a chance, we ask Adriaan van Rossum, founder of Simple Analytics.

Joe: Welcome back to BNR Digital. [...] Now first focus on another start-up, because over 80% of websites with tracking, use Google Analytics. With that handy tool, that's pretty nice, but the American tech giant is actually a bit illegal in Europe. Dutch company Simple Analytics is jumping into the gap and building a privacy-friendly alternative. But how likely is it to succeed? We ask Adriaan van Rossum, founder of Simple Analytics. Welcome Adriaan.

Adriaan: Thank you.

Joe: Good to have you here. So you guys are going to compete with Google Analytics. Surely that sounds like a very small David against a very big Goliath. A little naive maybe?

Adriaan: Yes, you can see it that way, but I do believe that in the story of David and Goliath David eventually won. So you need a long breath maybe, but eventually you get there. And I think then you can also address right away the point about Google Analytics and revenue model. Their revenue model is very much about right data collection, ads, sales. So it's completely integrated into their revenue model to collect data. So they can't actually get out of that very easily. And we are a new company and we can just still set all our own rules and ethical laws. And we've done that and that way we think we can beat Goliath.

Joe: So you guys, I would say, are not trapped in a complex system of overhead and dependence on high ad revenue. Are much leaner and meaner to actually run the same application in a healthier way, shall I say?

Adriaan: Yes, exactly. And healthier than in ethical form.

Joe: But anyway, one of the important setting points is that you do comply with the AVG, whether that also applies to Google Analytics is something the legal experts are scrambling to decide. Is that something you use to convince companies to use your application?

Adriaan: Yes, certainly. And certainly now that, yes, more and more regulations are being made in Europe, there is more and more room for alternatives because people actually have to do something else.

So Google Analytics is already banned in Italy, in Austria, in France, and the countries are piling up. So that obviously provides a tremendously easy entry point for us of hey guys you're not allowed to use Google Analytics anymore, use Simple Analytics. And that's actually a very important selling point for us to bring in those customers.

Ben: Yes, but I have very much loved the whole suite of Google Analytics and then of course you know yourself yes companies are almost stuck in it, that lure in is huge and then you come in with your analytics, heartily sympathetic and beautiful, but companies are so dependent on Google Analytics, whether it's fine or not, ethical or not. How do you counter that and then what do you do to counter that?

Adriaan: Well, you need a lot of new ideas to beat something that is very standard or what is really the status quo of search, for example. We're tackling Google's analytics stack and you already see that with market value, or market share, but you also see for example with Google Shirts.

Joe: Is that purely because of that AVG case, shall I say, that because of that there is a high risk that Google is going to lose those customers? So is that what you're betting on as well, I would say?

Adriaan: I do think that is really the most important factor, because it is so much in the news now and so many hornets around it as well that companies want something else, because they just don't want to use Google Analytics anymore.

Joe: Yes but just very faintly hey, Google of course also has expensive paid lawyers, they can find fixed way to build a well AVG trial version for Europe if only they want it, if the contingency is enough under legal pressure and there goes your business case or is that too cynical for me?

Adriaan: That's not really the case, and Google itself can't do very much about this problem either because they are in the US and what it actually breaks down on is that the personal data is transported from Europe to the US. And that's where it goes wrong, because under the previous laws that existed there, or treaties that were in place about that, that was okay. Then there have been lawsuits for that and there it turns out that the government in the US can look in on the data of European citizens.

Joe: Yes, we certainly know those.

Ben: Yes, we know about those, but of course they will litigate for a very long time and they will say everything in the data centers, here in Groningen, there we put everything stored locally and you sell bikes in the Netherlands, yes then you just have a lot more tools, a lot more features in Google Analytics. In my opinion it's almost just, yes, you can't escape it than your tool.

Adriaan: The easiest way is of course also to use what everybody is using right now, and that's Google Analytics, because you have all the tutorials for that, everybody understands how it works, although with Google Analytics atmosphere it's a little bit different. So there are a lot of people who indeed use it as a standard, but if it soon becomes illegal in the Netherlands as well, what do we do then? Then you have to choose something else. So you end up choosing do I want to keep trading legally? Or do I want to make a more ethical move, make a step? And it's better to do it now than when it's too late and you have to convert all your systems.

Joe: Yeah, no, I get that. That's an interesting line of argument. I imagine some parties are quite sensitive to that. Now, who in particular are your customers? Are we talking mainly about governments or just commercial parties as well? Who are already working with Simple Analytics?

Adriaan: Yes, it is a very large mix of indeed those two, so we have the UK government who are a customer, we have Michelin, we have Hyundai, we have.... Oh, those are serious names too really. Yes, a car leasing company, we actually have all kinds of everything, also the small business owners, maybe also the bike stores, but a little less e-commerce, because e-commerce is really more focused on tracking anyway, but just a big selection of different also legal companies for example, who also really want to show to their customers okay, this is important.

Joe: Who want to be the best kid in the class, because with him it's already per legal case just here to the moment.

Adriaan: And some clients also use it alongside Google Analytics. So Google Analytics with consent and then Simple Analytics without consent. So that you then still kind of know how many people click no on my cookie banner. That way you can also collect data alongside each other.

Joe: Can you also just explain in somewhat understandable language if there's a difference in what Google Analytics does, just apart from how big they've swelled and the legal battle, and what you guys do, is that really just the same trick? Or do you guys also have a different approach and come up with different results? Can you comment on that?

Adriaan: Yes, definitely. Google is really all about collecting as much data point as possible. And that brings two problems, privacy and a complex dashboard. Because to just quickly see where does my traffic come from in Google, in Google Analytics, where does that come from, is pretty difficult. They try to make it all better, but that's kind of tricky. At Simple Analytics, we do it really differently. We're not called Simple Analytics for nothing.

Joe: Good name.

Adriaan: We have a very clear dashboard with a graph and where the traffic comes from and things like that. We go a little less in-depth on the person. So where Google Analytics is very much on the person, Simple Analytics is more on the group of people. So we think it's important how many people have visited your website and with Google Analytics you also know exactly what kind of person that is, how far they have been in their flow from your website. So those are differences in a way. So they are a little bit deeper on the person, to summarize it easily. We're more on a grouping of individuals.

Ben: Yes, but right you still, I'm coming back to it anyway it's called it, that you need that right, because then you can analyze as a website owner, also the U.K. government, hey they come from there, that's that person, I can serve him in such a way, that I can provide the right content for that person as a government I can provide that.

Adriaan: It's also better for your business. If you have all that data for your business, you can run a better business.

Ben: But your business is also providing information. The right information with that person for a government, I want to know. You handle that data very carefully, because that belongs to a user. But that right information, and doing that with Google Analytics, you can really do that perfectly. But then less good information, then flat.

Adriaan: Well, you have to make a concession between privacy and that very deep information that you would like to collect. And we have to water down somewhere. So either we just start tracking and we do it the way we were doing it, or we change that.

Ben: Where exactly is that boundary for you? So what kind of data does Google have for you that just goes too far?

Adriaan: That they can track you over several days, for example, I think that does go too far. Which paths you all take exactly, what exactly you do, through which specific sources you come.

Ben: But that's if I Google, if sorry, if I pressed cookies ok, right? Ben: Yes. Yes, exactly. And of course people shouldn't do that, but a lot of them do and then, ok.

Adriaan: And the part with Google is of course, what I said before, that model is on that data, so they sell and not sell like we give it out the door, but they provide the tools to put that data to use for an ad network. Which in itself can also be used poorly. So you have to be a little careful with that as well what kind of data ends up in there.

Joe: Speaking of data and transparency. You guys are pretty much it too. There's a lot on your website about revenue, costs and growth. Why do you actually do it that way? We're not giving you way too much away with that?

Adriaan: Yes, we do give away a lot. But we also have something to say. We would like to be a transparent company. And yes, you can't be a transparent company without being transparent yourself. And we want to gain a little bit of customer trust there. With Google, you don't know very much about what they do behind the scenes. And we want to be very clear about what we do behind the scenes. And that includes our revenue figures. How many customers we bring in, NPS scores we put online. All kinds of information like that.

Joe: And does that really work or do you ultimately have to apply more amounts of transparency in order not to reveal too much? I can imagine that possible competition is not favorable if you just share everything.

Adriaan: No, that's right. On the other hand, you can use it again for marketing, for example. Because if you have achieved a milestone, you can share it and you can reach people with it. So it has that aspect as well.

Joe: Transparency as marketing.

Adriaan: Yes, also, definitely. But you can also be too transparent. So of course we don't share the passport data of our employees.

Joe: No, I understand that.

Adriaan: There is a balance in it, yes.

Joe: Yes, exactly. But finally, where do you draw the line? Sales and customers is one thing, but do you also tell exactly what you do and don't do to be AVG proof? Or is that still a bit too floating?

Adriaan: Yes, we definitely have to explain that because a lot of customers have those questions. Like hey, are you guys what you say you are? Exactly. So we devoted whole blog post to that to explain exactly how it is. Okay. And also legal pages for when you really have a legal team of okay, we don't believe it, okay, go check it out. And then it will come out that it's correct.

Joe: Well, duly noted. Anyway, we've gotten a nice introduction to it now. Thank you, Adriaan van Rossum, founder of Simple Analytics.