In summary, I am very happy to announce that I will be accepting a role on the Piwik PRO Advisory Board. Essentially, I will advise the leadership team with their long term strategic development of Piwik PRO. It comes at a pivotal time in our industry, with so much at stake – user concerns about privacy, adtech regulation, the demise of 3rd-party cookies, and the switch-off of Universal Analytics – my thoughts .
Why Am I doing it?
I have been following the progress of Piwik PRO for a while – mostly out of curiosity. Here was a European analytics vendor trying to compete against Google. Surely, this was doomed to failure – as happened to others between 2005-8 when Google Analytics first launched.
But these are different times…
Back in 2005, when Google acquired Urchin, analytics tools were expensive and very much aimed at IT people. Google revolutionised the industry by targeting marketers instead, and providing the tool for free.
Those vendors that tried to go toe-to-toe against Google predictably failed. Google is simply too good at producing products that marketers like/understand, and they practically invented the “freemium” model. What the competition should have done at that time was carve out a niche market for themselves, but I guess they were caught in the headlights…
Privacy and its regulation, is now the elephant in my industry – and rightly so.
Even from a young age, I have always been a privacy advocate – I think it’s in my DNA. In 2008, I confidently predicted to a session moderated by the excellent Jim Stern at the SES London conference, that “privacy was the next big thing“. How wrong I was, but it did come. Slowly but surely, in the form of Edward Snowden, Cambridge Analytica and the GDPR.
So I began looking at alternative analytics tools, Piwik PRO being one, through a lens of being able to collect data while also protecting user privacy. All analytics vendors say that of course these days, but I wanted to explore if that was even possible. I wrote my first article about “benign analytics” in 2019.
There is also the problem of Google’s Consent Mode. A so-called privacy feature that left me open-mouthed when the Google product manager showed it to me for the first time in November 2021. TLDNR – they really do continue to collect data even when a user has explicitly said “No”. That was quite a shock in my trust for sending data to Google. Read more about this and why you should not use Consent Mode.
So I have been looking at alternatives to Google Analytics based on:
- A great user experience within its own reporting interface. Can users quickly get answers to fundamental questions about their website and the performance of campaigns?
- A strong approach to data ownership, residency and control. Essentially a GDPR centric approach to data collection.
- A product whose offering is strong enough for it to foster a sense of like-minded community. Do people believe in it – strong enough for them to give up their time and energy to help others for free?
Towards the end of 2021 I had fully evaluated Piwik PRO and reached out to Maciej Zawadzinski and Piotr Korzeniowski, under the guise of asking about feature development. However, what I really wanted to know was what made them and their team “tick”. Why do they consider themselves different from the plethora of other Google Analytics alternative tools?
Some good discussions flowed and in the summer heatwave of 2022, Piwik PRO invited me to their offices in Wroclaw, Poland – to “come and get to know us better“. I soon realised this young company had a similar altruistic view of how data should be used to mine. Put simply, it’s a good fit for both of us in these turbulent times.
What difference does this make?
For me, I am still doing the job I enjoy as Director of Analytics at Search Integration. I work with clients who want to build trust with their customers, collect data in a benign and non-invasive way, and view privacy laws as a positive and continuous process i.e. not simply a check box exercise for compliance. I recommend good products that I strongly believe in – I don’t sell tools or licences.
My advisory role with the Piwik PRO board is about helping the leadership team not get caught in the headlights of big adtech, and to carve out its own niche in the analytics industry. I feel excited, similar to what it was like in November 2005 when I helped launch Google Analytics in Europe. The analytics industry is evolving into its next phase and this is something I am really looking forward to.