matomo vs analytics

Comparison: Matomo vs. Google Analytics 4. Which is better?

A few years ago we made an entry comparing Piwik (now renamed Matomo) with Google Analytics. It is now in 2022 when it makes even more sense to compare Matomo with Google Analytics 4, since it is a good time to evaluate what you want the digital analytics tool to accompany you in the coming years.

When we evaluate the implementation of a tool in a web analytics project, one of the first choices that is usually made is the measurement tool. With the forced switch to Google Analytics 4, it’s a good time to weigh out the options currently existing.

In most cases, a free tool is chosen, among which Google Analytics (in its basic version) and its main alternative, Matomo (in its on-premise version) stand out. In this article we are going to compare both options, so you can choose the most appropriate one for measuring your project.

Table of Contents

1. What is Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics 
is the evolution of the most widely used Web Analytics tool worldwide that provides grouped and segmented data on visits and users browsing the web. It provides real-time information, with event-based measurement, as well as reports such as demographics, traffic sources, bounce rate, session duration, conversions…

1.1. Advantages of Google Analytics 4:

  • It’s free if you don’t need to use BigQuery.
  • It has a very intuitive interface and good usability.
  • There are many tools that include the Default Google Analytics API and allow easy connection, which greatly simplifies data extraction
  • Google Analytics is by far the most widely used tool in the world… when you have any questions, surely someone will have had it before and you will find the answer on the internet.
  • In Google Analytics 4 there is no longer a limit of 10,000,000 hits (which did exist in Universal Analytics)
  • Nor is there the limit of 20 objectives per view that Universal Analytics had, since any event can be marked as conversion
  • Native connection with data visualization platforms such as DataStudio, Tableau or PowerBI.
  • Full integration with App flows.
  • Availability of Google Consent Mode (conversion tracking even when the user does not accept cookies)

1.2. Disadvvantages of Google Analytics 4

  • Less privacy: Although there are several options to configure to what extent you want to share your data with Google, in the end, your data will always be hosted on an external server owned by Google.
  • It uses third-party cookies, which obliges to notify the user of its use.
  • As the volume of hits on the account grows, sampling increases, decreasing the accuracy of the data.
  • Google only guarantees a maximum data retention of 14 months. This means that if you want to work with data from more than that interval you will have to pay for BigQuery.
  • GA4 has an export limit of 1,000,000 hits

2. What is Matomo?

is the leading Open Source platform  in web analytics, and will provide you with valuable information about the visitors to your website, your marketing campaigns so you can optimize your online strategy and the experience of your users. It allows you to obtain information in real time, as well as measure page views and events… Matomo respects users’ privacy and gives you full control of your data.

2.1. Advantages of Matomo:

  • There are no limits as to the volume of hits you can collect, the limit is the capacity of your server in Matomo On Promise.
  • If you do not want to host it on your server you can host it in the cloud version for only € 19 per month (this is especially interesting for websites with less than 50,000 monthly hits)
  • If you have a small blog, with less than 10,000 visits per month, your server consumption will be negligible.
  • 100% ownership of the data.
  • If you like to program, being open source, you can customize its functionalities to a large extent.
  • There are no target limits.
  • There is no data export limit.
  • There is no sampling, because you have 100% of the data on your server.
  • In the face of privacy, it uses first-party cookies, so that the user’s data is not exposed to third parties.
  • Native option to comply with European cookie policy.
  • It allows youto transport Universal Analytics data with a free plugin. This is a great way to preserve your data history.
  • If you are willing to pay for their plugins in their on-premise version or their cloud version, you will have tools included such as form analytics, heat maps, serial recording… at a cost significantly lower than the payment tools on the market.

2.2. Disadvantages of Matomo:

  • Although Matomo is an open source tool, it is not as free as it seems, since it entails a server consumption. In Google Analytics, the servers are run by Google.
  • Despite having an active community, its size is much smaller than what you will find relative to Google Analytics.
  • If you want to connect your data to DataStudio, you will have to have technical knowledge to do it from the MySql database.

3. Common features in Matomo and Google Analytics 4

  • Real-time data analytics.
  • Customizable integrated dashboards.
  • E-commerce measurement module.
  • Custom dimensions.
  • Monitoring of objectives.
  • Analysis of internal searches.
  • Geolocation of users.
  • Automated reports by email.
  • App on both iOS and Android.
  • Access via API.
  • Campaign tracking.
  • Both have a Tag Management System (TMS): Google Tag Manager in the case of Google Analytics and Matomo Tag Manager in the case of Matomo.
  • User-friendly interface.

4. Summary of the comparison

  • If privacy and data ownership are a determining factor, we have a clear winner: Matomo
  • Nothing is free in this life… with Google Analytics you are providing all your data without knowing for sure what you are going to do with them… with Matomo all the information is yours and yours alone.
  • Google Analytics is still the most used web analytics tool. Regardless of whether you’re going to implement it or not, you should know about it.