Matomo –data protection compliant website Analysis tool

Matomo (formerly Piwik) was designed for GDPR-compliant tracking and is the most widely used Google Analytics alternative in Germany. With a market share of around 14.6 percent, the program is continuously increasing its user base, does not issue any storage limits and does not limit the number of websites per account. When storing sensitive log data, the tool with its own server ensures more privacy for users and yet enables accurate analyses of overall performance through special tracking methods.

The program offers clarity, reliable conformity with German data protection regulations, but at the same time protects the privacy of visitors. Learn more about its benefits and how the analysis tool works. Let’s take a look together at the technology behind the popular open source application and focus on the system’s interface architecture.

What is Matomo?

The creative minds behind the application have also founded InnoCraft. The digital consulting company from New Zealand provides premium, cloud services and plug-ins for the hosted software versions. Matomo is a web analytics platform with extremely user-friendly elements. Website operators have the ability to monitor and analyse the behaviour of their users live. The open-source tool can be installed on one’s own server and can be extended with additional plug-ins. Until 2018, the tool was marketed under the brand name Piwik. A major advantage of the tracking tool is the internal hosting. This means that you as a user keep all analysis data completely under your control.

Advantages of Matomo

Matomo can be installed on your own server and sends all tracking requests to it as well. Therefore, collected data is not shared with or used by third parties. This fact makes it easier to design your privacy policy, because according to GDPR regulations, you can use Matomo due to legitimate business interest. This aspect exempts you from the opt-in requirement; alternatively you can also use the Matomo cloud.

In addition, this modern tool for web analytics can be used without cookies. In this case, some analysis functions are lost, but in terms of data protection and user acceptance, website operators benefit. At the core of its offered features, the system can be used free of charge, but you can also add various paid services and plug-ins if required. If you want to understand the basics of this solution, you will notice that the Matomo software is much less likely to be detected by adblockers than conventional digital analytics programs. This leads to an improved quality of data in monitoring as well as in reporting.

The clearly structured and easy-to-use interface allows users to quickly find their way around and add useful features to the freely configurable dashboard, such as the real-time visitor log.

Matomo and data protection

Unlike the industry leader, Matomo stores all generated data exclusively on its own server. Thus, the data sovereignty remains solely with the operator of the website. Website owner can be sure to always act in accordance with the GDPR when it comes to the metrics applied. When evaluating data, Matomo always takes the entire data set into account and uses all available user data for the analysis. No sampling is generally performed unless the user indicates the desire for sampling in the parameters. Every action of website visitors is transparently displayed both in real time and afterwards and can be analysed individually.

Matomo technology - what's under the hood?

The tool is committed to protecting the data of all users. For this purpose, the application resorts to complete anonymisation of the IP address and replaces it with a randomly determined combination of numbers. This factor ensures compliance with the GDPR. As soon as Internet users start a session on the network, the browser receives several cookies in HTTP format from websites visited in the last few days, weeks or months. These third-party cookies can contain a wide variety of information. Activities, clicked products or content are read. To protect the anonymity of visitors, the software does not store any information that allows tracking. If a user looks at a specific link, the referrer URL is also anonymized and websites can no longer trace the origin of their users.

The technology behind the application promises additional data security. The program uses a MySQL database, is written in PHP and is developed under the GPL 3.0+ license. A count of visitors is done with counting pixels, JavaScript, via a log file analysis or an API. On the server side the libraries Pear and Zend Framework act, as a client jqqPlot and jQuery are used. Log data is stored regularly and non-rationally, and aggregated into time periods. Archive data is stored in individual tables and is entered accordingly per month. Numerous revisions have been made in the graphical presentation with the new version, such as data analysis or key figure overviews. Each KPI is stored in the dashboard as an extended report and it is possible to import additional content and, for example, evaluate the log files according to special criteria.

Matomo cookieless Tracking

This server-side tracking tool no longer interacts with the visitor’s computer via typical cookies and device-specific, as was previously the case, but instead uses ID-protected targeting. This is particularly interesting for websites that offer a log-in area. A person’s click and purchase behaviour can be precisely evaluated and tracked across devices with the help of “cross device tracking”. The Matomo program keeps personal data on its own server.

Analysis with Matomo

The user interface is clearly structured and its dimensions are easily recognisable. Thus, there are numerous standard analyses, while every website operator has the option to make custom settings in the dashboard. Individual elements can be placed in an orderly manner depending on the requirements profile. The navigation elements on the left side of the user interface provides various analysis functions for selection. Depending on the thematic area, the digital analytics tool offers different filter, display and export functions. Time periods and segments for individual analysis criteria can be selected in the upper web page segment via drop-down menus. Many other settings can be found by clicking on the gear wheel.

IT-WINGS – Your Matomo expert

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Analytics, business intelligence and sales promotion:  We are your reliable Matomo experts. Depending on your wishes, goals and website size, we advise you on the choice of the right Matomo version and are always actively at your side during the first steps as well as with any questions that may arise.

Of course, we also take care of the entire implementation of Matomo on your website, if required. If necessary, we offer training for your employees so that they can safely handle the web analysis software and thus perform analyses on their own. We are also happy to support you with evaluations and interpretations if required. We look forward to your inquiry!


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