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Written by Tijn Aarden, 16 April 2024

Piwik PRO vs GA4: which is the best fit for your organization?

For years, Google Analytics has been known as the go-to solution for collecting and analyzing website traffic. Many marketing professionals choose this tool in part because of its seamless integration with other Google services such as Google Ads and Google Search Console. But is GA4 really the best option for your business, or are there other platforms worth considering as well? In this article, we take a closer look at GA4 and put it alongside the European platform Piwik PRO.

Alternative data platforms

In recent years, there has been much to do around GDPR legislation and specifically how Universal Analytics collected and processed data. In response, Google introduced a new analytics platform, Google Analytics 4 (GA4). However, we note that GA4 sometimes leaves something to be desired. While applying Server Side Tagging does solve some of the problems, there remains room for improvement. This prompted us to explore other data platforms, looking for ways to gather even more precise data.

Introduction of Piwik PRO

Piwik PRO, like Google Analytics, is a web analytics platform that supports companies in understanding visitor behavior on their website. Designed as a privacy-friendly alternative to Google Analytics, Piwik enables users to perform in-depth analysis and reporting in full compliance with global privacy laws. It offers many opportunities for data collection, analysis and personalization, while protecting user anonymity and giving organizations complete control over their data.

Piwik PRO vs. GA4

Why do we dwell on Piwik PRO? Well, we have discovered some compelling pluses of this Polish platform.

  • One of Piwik’s handy features is its built-in tag manager and cookie banner. This makes it a lot easier to streamline the management of website tracking tags and cookie compliance within the same platform.
  • The fact that Piwik PRO is a Polish, and therefore European, product with servers in Germany means that your data remains within the borders of the European Union. This is in contrast to Google Analytics, which originated in the US. Piwik PRO was developed with GDPR regulations in mind and continues to evolve with this focus as well.
  • Since 2024, Piwik PRO has offered privacy-compliant marketing and e-commerce analytics for SMEs. This means SME entrepreneurs can create their marketing and e-commerce reports in an instant, while complying with privacy laws.

Of course, Piwik PRO and Google Analytics also have their similarities. For example, both platforms support both web and app tracking and offer extensive customization options, such as statistics, dimensions and attribution models. In addition, a free and a paid version of both are available.

Ultimately, choosing the right platform depends on your organization’s specific needs and preferences. But we’re happy to take some work off your hands by listing the main differences, so you don’t have to look for them yourself.

The main differences side by side

Google. Piwik pro vs ga4: which is the best fit for your organization? Piwik. Piwik pro vs ga4: which is the best fit for your organization?
American
Using GDRP legislation limited in Europe to create certainty that data remains in the EU
European
Developed using GDRP legislation with the goal of keeping data within the EU
Price
Completely free of charge
Price
Free (up to 500,000 actions per month)
Depending on Google
Google limits control and independence of GA4 user data
Independent party
Piwik is not dependent on a multinational company which does not restrict control and user data
Integrations
Integratable with popular BI and data visualization software (Tableau, Power BI, Looker Studio)
Integrations
Integratable with popular BI and data visualization software (Tableau, Power BI, Looker Studio)
Interfaces
– Just an analytics interface. Consent Management and Tag manager requires other tools (GTM and/or cookiebot)
– Known for its comprehensive and detailed reporting capabilities
Interfaces
– Features platform which fully integrates with Analytics, Tag Manager and Consent Management
– Features a user-friendly dashboard that can be customized to meet specific needs
Both first and third-party cookies
GA4 uses first-party cookies for domain-internal analysis and third-party cookies for cross-site ad tracking
First-party cookies only
Piwik PRO uses only fist party cookies so that user privacy better complies with data protection laws
Data processing
– Data actuality: 4 to 8 hours
– Data retention: only 2 months or 14 months
– May take up to 24 hours to process all data
Data processing
– Data actuality: 30 min
– Data retention: 14 months
– Data is visible and workable within 30 minutes
Tracking
Works with event-based tracking resulting in a comprehensive engagement view at different levels
Tracking
Works with hit-based tracking which is limited to session level and a less flexible engagement view
Reporting features
– Live traffic / live map
– No consent statement
– No heatmaps / clickmaps / scrollmap reports
– Possesses data retention
Reporting function
– No live traffic / live map
– However, a statement of consent
– Well heatmaps / clickmaps / scrollmap reports
– 14 months of data retention or more (no sampling)
BigQuery
Ability to BigQuery raw data export with GA4
BigQuery
BigQuery raw data export is not available from Piwik
Anonymizing data
– No zero-identity tracking: data can be stored without IP address and Cookie ID
– Google IP anonymization does not protect data
Anonymizing data
– Advanced anonymization of data
– Works with zero-identity tracking
– Works with IP anonymization

Our data differences mapped

We put some metrics ourselves (users, sessions, page views and organic visitors) from both Piwik PRO and GA4 side by side to scrutinize the differences in numbers. It is important to note here that the data from GA4 was collected without using server-side tagging (SST). SST affects how accurate the measurements are. In particular, data from browsers that value user privacy (such as Safari and Firefox) are not well measured in GA4’s data. Of course, both data platforms were active during the same period.

In our analysis, we merged data from several websites, and in doing so we noticed a few things. This analysis revealed that Piwik consistently reported higher values than Google Analytics 4. The chart below shows the percentage differences between Piwik and GA4 for each of these metrics. Piwik PRO provides more consistent results across a broader spectrum of browsers. This makes it a strong alternative for in-depth analysis of your website, especially if you really drive data. Incidentally, this again underscores how crucial server-side tagging is for precise data collection at GA4.

Once we put the data from Piwik and GA4 side by side in one clear graph, the differences stand out. Piwik seems to collect more data in terms of user numbers, sessions, page views and organic search traffic. These insights confirm that Piwik offers a more detailed view of your Web site’s activities.

  • Average difference users: Piwik measures an average of 691.5 more users than GA4.
  • Average difference session: Piwik measures an average of 470.75 more users than GA4.
  • Average difference page views: Piwik measures an average of 1,881.92 more page views than GA4.
  • Average difference organic users: Piwik measures an average of 595 more organic visits than GA4.

What fits your organization?

The choice of platform is ultimately very personal. Both platforms offer unique advantages and distinct differences are apparent. In particular, Piwik PRO stands out for its compliance with GDPR privacy laws. If privacy is not a major concern, you might want to stick with Google Analytics, something many already do. Because GA4 has restrictions in Europe to ensure data stays within the EU, the future of this Google platform is still uncertain. However, we are closely monitoring developments around Google Analytics 4 in Europe. So the choice between Piwik PRO and Google Analytics comes down to your organization’s specific wants and needs.

Don’t have a Google Analytics 4 property yet or has this article piqued your interest in Piwik PRO? We cordially invite you to contact us to discuss the possibilities!