Our website uses cookies to give you the best experience and for us to analyse our site usage. If you continue to use our site, we will take it you are OK about this. Click on More for information about the cookies on our site and what you can do to opt out.

We respect your Do Not Track preference.

Yaris or Jazz? Choosing a web analytics tool JLB
5 September 2014


I had to buy a car for the teenager. OK, I didn’t have to but I wanted to. He could have bought himself a bomb but mother didn’t fancy the loss of sleep. It had to be something small and zippy (but not too zippy), and safe (like a zillion air bags safe).

Too many weekends trawling through car yards and adverts later, the Toyota Yaris and Honda Jazz ticked all the right boxes. There were others but hey, I had to narrow the field. But which was the one to get?

So it was when we wanted better statistics about the use of our website. For example, we wanted aggregated information on:

  • Which pages are most frequently visited
  • Which pages turn users away (i.e. are not giving users what they want)
  • What search terms are most commonly used
  • What platforms are used to access our website (e.g. desktops vs mobile devices)
  • How successfully new features or functionality we build are adopted.

Why are we doing this? Because we want to make sure that we deliver to our users the information they want, and we want to improve how we deliver it.

We narrowed the field to Google Analytics (GA) and Piwik. GA comes with a myriad of features and, just like anything about Google, it is ubiquitous – the most used analytics tool on the web. 

Piwik is a open source web analytics platform created by a New Zealand-based developer. Its point of difference is that website owners can self-host it. Web data can be collected, stored and analysed on the website owner’s server without it needing to be sent to a third party for analysis.

It all sounded good. But the constraints of our website infrastructure meant we are not able to self-host. If we were to use Piwik, we needed to look to a cloud solution.

Protecting the privacy of our users and the data we collect is an over-riding consideration for us. We did a privacy analysis of GA and Piwik. We checked both out against our information privacy principles and against the principles of Privacy By Design.

We touched base with our overseas privacy colleagues to find out what they use and why. We also researched the privacy policies of GA and Piwik, particularly as to the ownership and control of the data collected, and how they might use or not use the data for their own purposes. 

We chose Piwik because we think it will offer us a higher level of privacy assurance for our users and our data. As it happens, our German and French privacy colleagues assessed Piwik and also found it privacy friendly.

We note Piwik’s terms of service and privacy policy provide the assurance that even with a cloud hosted solution, the data will still remain fully owned by us, and Piwik will not make any use of it or share it with any other parties.

While we will store the data with Piwik, it will be non-personally identifiable. 

We have taken the following steps in implementing Piwik:

  • We updated our website privacy statement to explain why we want to collect statistics about our web traffic; to provide an assurance that it is only aggregated, non-personally identifiable metrics that we will report on; to give examples of these; and to explain how we have implemented it in a way that respects our users’ privacy.
  • We highlighted the change to our privacy statement on our website and drew users’ attention to it.
  • We provided users with the ability to opt out of the tracking cookies that Piwik will use to generate the aggregated, non-personally identifiable metrics for us. We will prominently display this opt out option on our website.
  • We are masking users’ IP addresses to make them non-personally identifiable.
  • We configured Piwik to recognise and respect any “Do not track” setting that a user might have implemented in their own web browser.

We wanted to improve our website by getting better measures about how it is being used. And we wanted to do it in a way that respects our users’ privacy and our data. We think with Piwik we’ve got the balance right.

As for the car, it came down to what came up on Trade Me. I decided it had to be safe, new it did not!





No one has commented on this page yet.

Post your comment

The aim of the Office of Privacy Commissioner’s blog is to provide a space for people to interact with the content posted. We reserve the right to moderate all comments. We will not publish any content that is abusive, defamatory or is obviously commercial. We ask for your email address so that we can contact you if necessary to clarify your comment. Please be respectful of authors and others leaving comments.