Google Analytics is the most widely used tracking tool worldwide, accounting for an estimated 50-80% of all websites. From the perspective of data protection and privacy, however, its use has always been subject to strong criticism. Therefore, especially in recent months, European data protection authorities have increasingly reacted and declared the use of the Analytics software as legally inadmissible. Why the use of Google Analytics is problematic and how ViOffice deals with it, you will learn in this blog.
What is Web Analytics?
Back in August of last year, we dedicated a detailed blog post to the topic of web analytics. The Web Analytics Association (WAA) defines web analytics quite briefly as:
The measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of web data to understand and optimize web usage.
While this definition gives a broader understanding of what web analytics entail, it does not clearly define what methods can or should be used, what tools are necessary and also practical for doing so, what the target unit of such analysis might be, what steps are to be taken to preserve its privacy (if that is even desired…), and what “web data” even is. Moreover, the WAA definition clearly lacks a statement about the purpose of such an analysis.
Such considerations are critical, however, as they have enormous implications for the user experience, as well as for digital self-determination and, of course, the effectiveness of the analytics performed by a website operator.
Comparison: ViOffice Analytics vs. Google Analytics
ViOffice Analytics offers privacy-preserving and sustainable web analytics for all your websites. What this actually means and how we differ from the market leader Google Analytics, we would like to explain to you in more detail below. A clear comparison can be found on our website.
1. Fast & Intuitive
The Umami web tool used in ViOffice Analytics is a clear, easy-to-use tool for web analysis. It collects exactly the data on the website that is relevant for the operator without getting lost in overly complex functions that slow down the website and store sensitive, personal data of visitors. Google Analytics, on the other hand, noticeably increases the page loading time due to its complexity and collects a large amount of data, which makes it difficult to always keep an eye on the relevant metrics in a clear way. The loading of Google Analytics scripts by website busters can take up to 20 times longer than with ViOffice Analytics.
2. Free, Open Source Software
ViOffice Analytics is based on the free, open source software Umami. Open source software licenses fulfill the following four freedoms: The freedom to use the software, the freedom to understand it, the freedom to distribute it and the freedom to improve it. This means that the source code of the software is permanently exposed to a so-called public audit, i.e. everyone has the possibility to identify problems of the software and to transparently check whether the software fulfills its purpose without carrying out further processes in the background that could attack the privacy of the users.
However, Google Analytics is non-free or proprietary software. Therefore, it is not possible to use the software yourself without restrictions and to check the software itself for its security or even to know in detail what the software does (possibly in secret).
3. Server Location Germany & European Data Protection Regulation
All our servers are located in Germany. Thus, we ensure that German and European data protection standards, in particular the General Data Protection Regulation (DSGVO), must always be complied with. The European DSGVO is one of the strictest data protection regulations in the world and applies in all EU member states, including Germany.
Google operates servers all over the world. The storage locations of your specific information are unclear and are not necessarily subject to European law or compliance with data protection standards can no longer be controlled.
4. Even More Data Protection!
We go beyond the legal requirements of the GDPR and give you full control over the data collected by ViOffice Analytics. Unlike Google, we do not use the data collected from website operators ourselves. Of course, there is also no data transfer to third parties. Due to our high data protection regulations, it is not necessary to place an annoying cookie banner on your website when using ViOffice Analytics: no cookies are set and no personal data is collected!
Google is subject to strong criticism from data protection authorities in Europe (and worldwide). The company’s core business is to commercialize the collected data by analyzing sensitive information from Google itself and passing it on to third parties. Not only does this require a cookie banner on your website, but the use of Google Analytics is also highly controversial legally. French and Austrian data protection authorities have recently already declared the use of Google Analytics illegal.
5. Traffic Analysis vs. People Analysis
ViOffice Analytics collects and analyzes aggregate traffic rather than individuals. The information that website operators are often actually interested in is mainly traffic metrics, as well as some additional information about vague, non-personal demographic categories of visitors. However, knowing the characteristics of every single visitor is usually completely irrelevant. Instead, it’s more important to know how many (or what proportion of) visiters come from country X, how many use web client (browser) Y, and how many view a particular subpage of your website usd. i.e. metrics tables with cells that are independent of each other.
Google Analytics, on the other hand, is an overly complex tool in which the overview of the most relevant key figures is lost in the mass of information. In addition to user-friendliness, the privacy of individual website visitors suffers, as sensitive personal data is collected that is usually irrelevant for the user’s own analysis and slows down the website noticeably.
6. 100% Green Energy
Ecological and social sustainability are our core concerns. That’s why our servers are powered by 100% renewable energy. Google, however, uses different energy sources, including resource-intensive ones, to run its server infrastructure. Added to this is the significantly smaller size of the analysis scripts in ViOffice Analytics, as mentioned earlier. Due to the low data consumption and efficient use of data under the minimal principle, ViOffice Analytics thus effectively saves processor power and electricity of the website visitors and the server.
7. Support for Regional Companies
The phenomenon of digital platform economies is closely related to the problem of monopoly formation. In practical terms, this means that companies such as Google have market power and the users, i.e. all of us, suffer obvious or mostly less obvious disadvantages as a result, such as overpriced prices or economic and social dependencies that lead to our privacy and personal rights being undermined, for example.
ViOffice would like to offer a constructive solution to this. We (and many other small companies) offer simple and useful tools at reasonable prices, which are primarily measured by our costs and realistic, sustainable future orientation. Our pricing model is not aimed at dominating entire market segments, nor at iron-clad profit optimization. We strive for social balance and participation through solidarity pricing, without compromising functionality.
How to Use ViOffice Analytics
We welcome anyone who wants to use ViOffice Analytics, whether it’s a small personal website, an emerging blog, or large enterprise sites. ViOffice takes the technical burden of running your own analytics platform off your shoulders by providing hosting, maintenance and regular backups of the services, so you can focus on what’s important to you. The price is based on the number of monthly page views and can be viewed transparently on our website. Associations receive special support from us through discounted rates. You are welcome to test ViOffice Analytics for 4 weeks free of charge and without obligation.
Our business model is not based on selling your private data to third parties, but on a fair exchange of the offered service. We are completely independent and base our prices significantly on our actual costs.
Pascal is co-founder of ViOffice. He is mainly responsible for marketing, finance and sales. He studied economics and political science at the University of Trier. Currently he is in the final stages of his master studies in applied statistics, economics and political science. He is interested in the fields of data science and digitalization. During his studies he spent some time in Turkey and Belgium.