GA4 vs Matomo Feature Image

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) vs Matomo

Google announced that Universal Analytics’ days are numbered. Universal Analytics will be replaced by Google Analytics 4 (or GA4) on the 1st of July 2023. 

If Google Analytics users want to compare year-on-year data, they have until July 2022 to get set up and start collecting data before the sun sets on Universal Analytics (or UA).

But is upgrading to Google Analytics 4 the right move? There’s a lot to consider, and many organisations are looking for an alternative to Google Analytics. So in this blog, we’ll compare GA4 to Matomo – the leading Google Analytics alternative. 

In this blog, we'll look at:

What is Matomo?

Matomo is a powerful privacy-first web analytics platform that gives you 100% data ownership. First launched in 2007, Matomo is now the world’s leading open-source web analytics platform and is used by more than 1 million websites. 

Matomo’s core values are based on ethical data collection and processing. Consistently more businesses and organisations from around the globe are adopting data-privacy-compliant web analytics solutions like Matomo. 

Matomo offers both Cloud and On-Premise solutions (and a five-star rated WordPress plugin), making for an adaptable and flexible solution. 

What is Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics 4 is the latest version of Google Analytics and represents a completely new approach to data-modelling than its predecessor, Universal Analytics. For an in-depth look at how GA4 and UA compare, check out this Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics comparison

Google Analytics 4 will soon be the only available version of analytics software from Google. So what’s the issue? Surely, in 2022, Google makes it easy to migrate to their newest (and only) analytics platform? Not quite.

Google Analytics 4 vs Matomo

Whilst the core purpose of GA4 and Matomo is similar (providing web analytics that help to optimise your website and grow your business), there are several key differences that organisations should consider before making the switch.

Importing Historical Data from Universal Analytics

Google Analytics 4

Users assuming that historical data from Universal Analytics could be imported into Google Analytics 4 were faced with swift disappointment. Unfortunately, Google Analytics 4 does not have an option to import data from its predecessor, Universal Analytics. This means that businesses won’t be able to import and compare data from previous years.

Matomo

If you don’t want to start from scratch with your web analytics data, then Matomo is an ideal solution for data continuity. Matomo offers users the ability to import their historical Universal Analytics data. So you can keep all that valuable historical data you’ve collected over the years.

Google Analytics 4 Migration
Tino Didriksen via Twitter

User Interface

Google Analytics 4

GA4’s new user interface has been met with mixed reviews. Many claim that it’s overly complex and difficult to navigate. Some have even suggested that the tool has been designed specifically for enterprises with specialised analytics teams. 

Kevin Levesquea via Twitter

Matomo

Matomo, on the other hand, is recognised for an easy to use interface, with a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars for ease of use on Capterra. Matomo perfectly balances powerful features with a user-friendly interface so valuable insights are only a click away. There’s a reason why over 1 million websites are using Matomo. 

Matomo Features

Advanced Behavioural Analytics Features 

Google Analytics 4

While Google Analytics is undoubtedly robust in some areas (machine learning, for instance), what it really lacks is advanced behavioural analytics. Heatmaps, session recordings and other advanced tools can give you valuable insights into how users are engaging with your site. Well beyond pageviews and other metrics.

Unfortunately, with this new generation of GA, Google still hasn’t introduced these features. So users have to manage subscriptions and tracking in third-party behavioural analytics tools like Hotjar or Lucky Orange, for example. This is inefficient, costly and time-consuming to manage. 

Matomo Heatmaps Feature

Matomo 

Meanwhile, Matomo is a one-stop shop for all of your web analytics needs. Not only do you get access to the metrics you’ve grown accustomed to with Universal Analytics, but you also get built-in behavioural analytics features like Heatmaps, Scroll Depth, Session Recordings and more. 

Want to know if visitors are reaching your call to action at the bottom of the page? Scroll Depth will answer that.

Want to know why visitors aren’t clicking through to the next page? Heatmaps will give you the insights you need.

You get the picture – the full picture, that is. 

All-in-one web analytics

Data Accuracy

Google Analytics 4

GA4 aims to make web and app analytics more privacy-centric by reducing the reliance on cookies to record certain events across platforms and devices. 

However, when site and application visitors opt-out of cookie tracking, GA4 instead relies on machine learning to fill in the gaps. Data sampling could mean that your business is making business decisions based on inaccurate reports. 

Matomo

Data is the backbone of web analytics, so why make critical business decisions on sampled data? With Matomo, you’re guaranteed 100% unsampled accurate data. So you can rest assured that any decisions you make are based on actual facts. 

Compliance with Privacy Laws (GDPR, CCPA, etc.) 

Google Analytics 4

Google is making changes in an attempt to become compliant with privacy laws. However, even with GA4, users are still transferring data to the US. For this reason, both Austrian and French governments have ruled Google Analytics illegal under GDPR.

The only possible workaround is “Privacy Shield 2.0”, but GDPR experts are still sceptical of this one. 

Matomo

If compliance with global privacy laws is a concern (and it should be), then Matomo is the clear winner here. 

As an EU hosted web analytics tool, your data is stored in Europe, and no data is transferred to the US. On the other hand, if you choose to self-host, the data is stored in your country of choice.

In addition, with cookieless tracking enabled, you can say goodbye to those pesky cookie consent screens. 

Also, remember that under GDPR, and many other data privacy laws like CCPA and LGPD, end users have a legal right to access, amend and/or erase the personal data collected about them. 

With Matomo you get 100% ownership of your web analytics data. This means that we don’t on-sell to third parties; can’t claim ownership of the data; and you can export your data at any time.

Matomo vs GA4
@tersmantoll via Twitter

Wrap up

At the end of the day, the worst thing an organisation can do is nothing. Waiting until July 2023 to migrate to GA4 or another web analytics platform would be very disruptive and costly. Organisations need to consider their options now and start migrating in the next few months.   

With all that said, moving to Google Analytics 4 could prove to be a costly and time-consuming operation. The global trend towards increased data privacy is a threat to platforms like Google Analytics which uses data for advertising and transfers data across borders.

With Matomo, you get an easy to use all-in-one web analytics platform and keep your historical Universal Analytics data. Plus, you can future-proof your business by being compliant with global privacy laws and get access to advanced behavioural analytics features.  

There’s a lot to weigh up here but fortunately, getting started with Matomo is easy. Try it free for 21-days (no credit card required) and see for yourself why over 1 million websites choose Matomo. 

While this is the end of the road for Universal Analytics, it’s also an opportune time for organisations to find a better fit web analytics tool. 

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