PiWik v/s Google Analytics

-Akshay Ranganath

For a particular need, I had done a comparison of Piwik versus Google Analytics as a web analytics tool. Thought of sharing the same.

Points considered in evaluation

  1. Cost / TCO
  2. Development or customization time
  3. Features needed (traffic reports v/s commerce metrics)
  4. Ease of integration to other marketing products
  5. Maturity of Analytics implemenation

Advantages of Piwik

  1. All collected data within organization – if privacy is biggest concern or if extra analysis of data necessary, this helps. Assumption is that the organization has the ability to handle the scale of data loads coming in via the analytics tools.
    GA would be a SaaS model and hence, all data is hosted on Google’s data centers.
  2. Open source and hence reports can be customized. Customization though would need maturity in both understanding the reporting needs in advance as well as development team’s cabapility to handle PHP based tools
    GA offers only limited customization in terms. But, it does offer a lot of minor tweaks in the name of filters but completely new reports based on user’s needs may not be possible.
  3. API support for pulling in data: PiWik supports exporting reporting information. This could be used for displaying something like “Top 10 picks” etc.
    GA currently does not have this feature and data export is not possible.

Disadvantages of PiWik

  1. UI is not that great. If organization wants jazzy reporting, this is not the product.
    Commerce reporting is minimal: Piwik is good for basic reports like No of visitors, referring URLs,
  2. Search engine, Search words, etc. However, it does not appear to be strong on commerce reporting. So if the client expects a lot of reports on conversion from visitor to a customer, funnel analysis / drop out rate in a multi step buying process, this tool may not be that good.
    GA on other hand has a good set of comemerce variables. The drop out and funnel analysis via Filters is proven and has been used successfully. (It too suffers from minimal customization and this where commercial products come in)
  3. Integration with external tools is minimal. GA on account of being a Google product easily integrates with Ad-Sense and Ad-words. So for an end-to-end marketing campaign (Email marketing, search engine marketing) GA offers a good tracking. In Piwik, this does not seem to be the case. Of course it can be customized but, will clients wait for development when both products are free?
  4. On technical front- Piwik needs PHP/MySQL and a server with enough disk space. This involves an investment. Compared to absolutely free storage on GA, this is still expensive
  5. Reporting interval used to be fixed in old version of this product. So, reporting for any customized interval (which is available in GA) may not be available in Piwik. Also, GA offers comparison reports for two time intervals which is completely missing in Piwik.
  6. Availability of support in implementatation: Pikwik assumes that you know analytics and need only a tool. It does not offer any documentation on what is analytics and what to measure.
    GA on other hand offers lots of documentation and most importantly, paid consultants are available who can actually design the implementation strategy using the tool. For Pikwik, all you get is only the PHP based support on making the code to work – nothing on how to use the product itself.

Author: akshayrangananth

CDN Specialist, Web performance evangelist, and SEO tinkerer.

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