Matomo Analytics from a GA4 Consultant

I have recently had the pleasure (or displeasure) of working with Matomo Analytics. Its absolutely awful. I have no idea why anyone would recommend this over GA4 now that GA4 is legal in the EU.

When I first heard of Matomo Analytics, it was its commitment to privacy that seemed to set it apart. Being GDPR compliant and offering an on-premise solution, it seemed like a viable option for businesses wary of third-party data processors. I don't see that as plus though. You have to manage your own data. Why bother when Google will do it for free?

The specs seem really high too. Look at this for up to 10 million page views a month.

Tracking 10 million page views per month or less

  • Two servers recommended
    • 1 x App servers, at least 8 CPUs, 16 GB RAM, 100GB SSD disk.
      • Or 2 x App servers, at least 4 CPUs, 4 GB RAM, 100GB SSD disk.
    • 1 x Database server, at least 8 CPUs, 16 GB RAM, 400GB SSD disk.

Thats not going to be cheap at all. Matomo will charge €1490 a month for all the hosting included.

In the Past

The web has evolved. User interactions have become more complex than simple page loads. In today's dynamic web environment, understanding events and user engagement provides richer insights than mere page views. Matomo’s reliance on this older model seems like a relic from the past, unsuitable for modern web analysis. Like how do you simply track button click? Use their crappy event model. In GA4, you just make up an event with parameters.

Falls over when reporting too much

I was working on a large site and ran a report that maybe created a million rows. It timed out and I had to change the date range from a month to a day. Google would just laugh at a report that size. Matomo doesn't scale well at all.

Matomo Tag Manager

Moreover, the tag management system—a critical component for deploying tracking codes and managing data collection—lacked sophistication. It was apparently created by a single developer in 3 weeks and it shows. I actually used Google Tag Manager to debug all the stuff with Matomo instead of Matomo Tag Manager as it was so bad.

Ecommerce Tracking

Matomo tracks ecommerce buts its hard to set up. I actually took over another company that couldn't get it working. Luckily, they had done most of the heavy lifting and I just created the correct tag to tie it altogether. Its just still much harder than GA4 for much less information. If you get stuck, you are on your own as few people know it. You more or less have to write your own javascript as the Tag Manager is useless.

AI and the Google ecosystem

GA4 is built with AI in mind. If you set up alerts, it will inform you when anything unusual happens on your site. Can Matomo do that? No. If you are using ads, then GA4 is must. You can export all your audiences from GA4 to ads and lets Googles machine learning do the heaving lifting. Good luck trying to do that with Matomo.

No Contest

In summary, there is no contest. I cannot work out why anyone would recommend Matomo analytics over GA4. Maybe if you had the simplest of websites that all you care about is page views but even then, you'd just use GA4 as it tracks all that.

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