The Google Analytics GDPR relationship is a complicated one. Website owners in states like Berlin in Germany are now required to ask users for consent to collect their data. This doesn’t make for the friendliest user-experience and often the website visitor will simply click “no.”
The problem Google Analytics now presents website owners in the EU is with more visitors clicking “no”, the less accurate your data will become.
Why do you need to ask your visitors for consent?
At this stage it’s simply because Google Analytics collects data for its own purposes. An example of this is using your visitor’s personal data for retargeting purposes across their advertising platforms like Google Ads and YouTube.
Google’s Privacy & Terms states: “when you visit a website that uses advertising services like AdSense, including analytics tools like Google Analytics, or embeds video content from YouTube, your web browser automatically sends certain information to Google. This includes the URL of the page you’re visiting and your IP address. We may also set cookies on your browser or read cookies that are already there. Apps that use Google advertising services also share information with Google, such as the name of the app and a unique identifier for advertising.”
The rise of hosting web analytics on-premise
Managing Google Analytics and GDPR can quickly become complicated, so there’s been an increase in website owners switching from cloud-hosted web analytics platforms, like Google Analytics, to more GDPR compliant alternatives, where you can host web analytics software on your own servers. This is called hosting web analytics on-premise.
Hosting web analytics on your own servers means:
No third-parties are involved
The visitor data your website collects is stored on your own internal infrastructure. This means no third-parties are involved and there’s no risk of personal data being used in the way Google Analytics uses it e.g. sending personal data to its advertising platforms.
When you sign up with Google Analytics you sign away control of your user’s personal data. With on-premise website analytics, you own your data and are in full control.
NOTE: Though Google Analytics uses personal data for its own purposes, not all cloud hosted web analytics platforms do this. As an example, Matomo Analytics Cloud hosted solution states that all personal data collected is not used for its own purposes and that Matomo has no rights in accessing or using this personal data.
You control where in the world your personal data is stored
Google Analytics servers are based out of USA, Europe and Asia, so where your personal data will end up is uncertain and you don’t have the option to choose which location it goes to when using free Google Analytics.
Different countries have different laws when it comes to accessing personal data. When you choose to host your web analytics on-premise, you can choose the location of your servers and where the personal data is stored.
With self-hosted web analytics platforms like Matomo On-Premise, you can extend the platform to do anything you want without the restrictions that cloud hosted platforms impose.
- Get full access to the source code of open-source solutions, like Matomo
- Extend the platform however you want for your business
- Get access to APIs
- Have no data limitations or restrictions
- Get RAW data access
- Have control over security
So what does the future look like for Google Analytics and GDPR?
It’s difficult to assess this right now. How exactly GDPR is enforced is still quite unclear.
What is clear however, is now website owners in Berlin using Google Analytics are lawfully required to ask their visitors for consent to collect personal data. It has been reported that Google Analytics has already received 200,000 complaints in Germany alone and it appears this trend is likely to continue across much of the EU.
Moving to a web analytics on-premise platform
Matomo Analytics is the #1 open-source web analytics platform in the world and has been rated as an exceptional alternative to Google Analytics. Check the reviews on Capterra.
Choosing Matomo On-Premise means you can control exactly where your data is stored, you have full flexibility to customise the platform to do what you want and it’s FREE.
Matomo’s mission is to give control back to website owners and the team has designed the platform so that moving away from Google Analytics is seamless. Matomo offers most of your favourite Google Analytics features, a leaner interface to navigate, and the option to add free and paid premium features that Google Analytics can’t even offer you.
And now you can import your historical Google Analytics data directly into your Matomo with the Google Analytics Importer plugin.
And if you can’t host web analytics on your own servers ...
Hosting web analytics on-premise is not an option for all businesses as you do need the internal infrastructure and technical knowledge to host your own platform.
If you can’t self-host, then Matomo has a Cloud hosted solution you can easily install and operate like Google Analytics, which is hosted on Matomo’s servers in the EU.
The GDPR advantages of choosing Matomo Cloud over Google Analytics are:
- Servers are secure and based in the EU (strict laws forbid outside access)
- 100% data ownership – we never use data for our own purposes
- You can export your data anytime and switch to Matomo On-Premise whenever you like
- User-privacy protection
- Advanced GDPR Manager and data anonymisation features which GA doesn’t offer
Interested to learn more?
If you are wanting to learn more about why users are making the move from Google Analytics to Matomo, check out our Matomo Analytics vs Google Analytics comparison page.