Matomo vs Google Analytics: Which Is More GDPR Compliant?

Matomo vs Google Analytics: What If You Changed Your Analytics Solution?

Google Analytics represents approximately 86% of the market share for audience analysis tools. It is used by over 440,000 French websites. Problem ? Google Analytics does not comply with the provisions of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

To avoid the CNIL penalty, you will need to upgrade to Google Analytics 4 or better yet, opting for an option that is as efficient as GDPR compliant. For example, Matomo, whose name means “honesty” in Japanese.

Matomo vs Google Analytics, Which Wins the GDPR Compliance Game? What are the main benefits of each solution? And what if you want to use GA anyway? We tell you everything in this article!

Google Analytics, Site Publishers Already Served

In February 2022, the National Commission for Computing and Liberties (CNIL) announced a formal notice due to a website manager’s use of Google Analytics.

Why such a decision? Because the tool made in Google does not comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Indeed, the latter transfers the data of European Internet users to the United States, thus violating Article 44 of the GDPR. Under the current circumstances, users’ personal information is not adequately protected by US intelligence services and their transfer cannot be validated by CNIL. but that’s not all !

Google does not guarantee the anonymity of the data collected through its tools. Worse, they are shared with its other services to improve the relevance and personalization of ads.

Even though Google Analytics has a consensus framework, it is not really reliable. It assigns visitors to your website an ID, which goes against GDPR requirements.

To avoid losing its European users, the Mountain View firm has initiated reforms, including the upcoming end of Universal Analytics.

Google’s response to Google Analytics 4, GDPR

Google has announced the disappearance of Google Analytics 3, or Universal Analytics Edition, for 2023. As of July 1, 2023, you will no longer be able to collect visitor data with Universal Analytics. In October of the same year, it would be the turn of Universal Analytics 360 to surrender.

From January 2024, all previous collected data will be erased. As a replacement, users are encouraged to upgrade to Google Analytics 4 right now. A new version that is supposed to be more respectful of the privacy of your website visitors.

If you use GA, you must have seen this message when you log in to your dashboard:

What does it change? Simply put, Google Analytics 4 uses machine learning to avoid collecting data on the customer journey through its platform. This will change by all means, tracking data:

  • A consent mode that allows the visitor to choose between the analysis or the collection of data related to advertisements is now available.
  • GA4 hides identities, masks and no longer stores IP addresses.
  • GA4 marks the end of cookie and session-based models for audience measurement and moves to an event-based model

The direct consequence of stopping the storage of IP addresses is to reduce the transfer of data to and from Google Analytics. Other changes include:

Reduced data retention period

With Universal Analytics, you can choose a data retention period of up to 64 months. In GA4, you only have two options: 2 months or 14 months.

Retention of Google Analytics data

Another change in line with the GDPR, but not yet optimal, as this regulation provides that the retention period is a maximum of 13 months for advertising cookies and 24 months for audience-related ones.

Ability to delete personal visitor data

Google Analytics 4 allows the deletion of a specific user’s data. This is a major improvement compared to Universal Analytics which only allowed the deletion of data within a specified time frame.

With GA4, you can disable tool triggering unless the user gives consent. In this case, you will not collect any personal information and therefore take no risk of processing sensitive data.

Sharing with other Google products

When you set up your GA4 account, you can choose to share data with Google’s technical support teams, account managers and/or other products.

Be sure to consider these options carefully, as some of them will require additional disclosure of confidential data.

Good to know: To make things simpler, you can disable data sharing.

Matomo vs. Google Analytics: What If You Changed Tools?

In its official list of tools that are recognized by CNIL as GDPR-friendly, we find Matomo.

Formerly known as PIWIK, it tracks your visits to websites and apps. A free and open source solution, the tool has a SaaS version hosted in Germany. Its functionalities are specifically designed to comply with the standards of the General Data Protection Regulations.

Matomo Overview

on-premises operation

Matomo is based on PHP and MySQL, and can be installed on its own servers, or run in the cloud with a paid service. With this on-premises installation, you can manage visitor data and your GDPR compliance yourself.

It provides basic features that allow you to automatically anonymize and pseudonymize the IP addresses of Internet users. This eliminates the personal nature of the data set by the GDPR. In Matomo VS Google Analytics Match: The Japanese Named Tool wins a point!

Data storage location selection

Matomo indicates on its website that the data collected is not transmitted and remains solely with the operator of the website. So you can determine the data centers where the information will be stored and maintained. This is a big difference with Google Analytics.

Scalability and automatic updates

Matomo has a store through which you can purchase plug-ins to upgrade its functionality. You will be able to more accurately follow their behavior while guaranteeing the anonymity of your visitors.

In addition, the tool promises an automatic update in the event of changes to the GDPR thanks to an advanced manager.

real-time data

The thing that sets Matomo apart from other tools is that it is particularly useful for analyzing real-time data. It has various functionalities that allow to identify the activity of a website and the origin of traffic at any point of time.

This makes it an ideal tool for analyzing both the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and a site’s ability to convert leads into customers.

Better data collection options

You don’t need the cookie consent screen with Matomo. After installation, the tool allows you to choose the data collection method. The most classic is the one offered by most analytical tools: a JavaScript tag that has to be integrated into the front-end of the site.

The tool also provides server-side integration based on log analysis to identify a visitor during his visit. Thanks to this solution, you benefit from a more accurate picture of traffic and interactions on your site.

Rest assured, there is no privacy issue. The data collected is exclusive and is not shared. You only use them for analytical purposes, not to create an audience for retargeting.

conversion optimization

Matomo has features such as:

  • heatmap
  • session recording
  • Automated form analysis and follow-up
  • funnel

These options are intended to help you improve your conversion funnel and therefore your sales.

Like Google Analytics, Matomo allows you to define and track your business objectives; Define events to identify and measure user progress on your website.

These functions also help you create A/B tests to optimize conversions.

Compatibility with Google Ads

In the Matomo VS Google Analytics match, you might think that integration with Google Ads is a privilege of the Mountain View tool. All Google devices are compatible with Matomo except that Google Ads is included. You have the possibility to manage your ads and improve your paid context with the tool.

Good to know: If you currently use Google Analytics, you can import your Google Ads data to integrate with Matomo. That way, you won’t need to stop your marketing campaigns!

Matomo vs Google Analytics: How to Choose?

Choosing Matomo means choosing a tool that already respects the provisions of the GDPR. Now you will not waste time setting the necessary parameters. Everything is done to make your life easier!

However, if you want to keep up with Google Analytics, you’ll need to upgrade to version 4, which is more GDPR compliant. This, so as not to run the risk of fine from CNIL. You have until 2023, but you should be aware that the Commission may review your website at any time.

Our Tip for Choosing Between Matomo and Google Analytics

Whether you want to upgrade to Google Analytics 4 or move to Matomo, we recommend getting help.

A professional will be able to fully configure these tools according to your purposes, but will also be able to train you in their sometimes complex use. The goal is to make the most of the GDPR-friendly data transmitted by the tool.

So wait no more posting your ad on to find a freelance analytics consultant to support you!

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