That’s certainly been the case for some of Fathom’s users as well, like the dieting website Paleo Leap. “We’re a very small company, and I’m the one who wears all the hats, and I don’t have time to dig very deep into analytics and conversion numbers,” says site creator Seb Noël. “I just need a tool that tells me how many visitors the site gets, what the most popular pages are, and what other sites refer to Paleo Leap. With other analytic solutions, there’s just no way not to gather other data, and I don’t like the idea of having more data points than I need.”
While Simple Analytics and Fathom are both recent additions to the world of privacy-focused data analytics, 1.5% of the internet already uses an open-source, decentralized platform called Matomo, according to the company. The project, which began in 2007, started as an open-source alternative to Google Analytics, which launched two years earlier. “When [Google] released Google Analytics, [it] was obvious to me that a certain percent of the world would want the same technology, but decentralized, where it’s not provided by a centralized corporation and you’re not dependent on them,” says Matthieu Aubry, Matomo’s founder. “If you use it on your own server, it’s impossible for us to get any data from it.”
Aubry says that 99% of Matomo users use the analytics code, which is open for anyone to use, and host their analytics on their own servers–which means that the company has no access to it whatsoever. For Aubry, that’s his way of ensuring privacy by design. United Nations, Amnesty International, NASA, and the European Commission and about 1.5 million other websites use Matomo.
But Matomo also offers significantly more robust tracking than Fathom or Simple Analytics–Aubry says it can do about 95% of what Google Analytics does. Still, there are a few key differences. Like Simple Analytics, Matomo honors Do Not Track. It was one of the first analytics platforms to anonymize IP addresses, a feature that Google introduced many years later. Matomo is also GDPR-compliant and gives its users the ability to delete information (Google is as well). And importantly, Matomo gives website owners more control over what specific pieces of data to track. “What we did is we gave people the tools to control how much they wanted to track and how precise they wanted to track,” Aubry says.
In the last few years, Matomo has focused on becoming more of a sustainable business rather than a large community project. It launched premium features for its business users that are paid, offers paid support for those that host their own analytics servers, and most recently launched a cloud service so less tech-savvy organizations can pay Matomo to host their data.
For some businesses, ensuring that analytics capture as little personal information as possible is paramount. The encrypted search engine Duck Duck Go’s entire business model is built on not tracking users, so the company built an internal analytics platform that would live up to its privacy standards. For others, it’s more a question of caution. Fathom user JSFiddle, a coding playground application for developers, uses Fathom for that reason. “As you might imagine, web developers are pretty tech-savvy people, and these days very privacy-cautious–they understand what tracking is, what is remarketing, and how scripts follow you across the internet,” Oskar Krawczyk, cofounder of JSFiddle, tells Fast Company via email. “With that in mind and the fact that I personally am not a fan of tracking, we decided to remove all external resources from JSFiddle that may potentially do tracking for remarketing purposes–obviously the biggest abuser here is Google Analytics.”