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A Comparison Of The Top 3 Privacy-Focused Analytics Platforms

hmhrex profile image Harley Hicks ・5 min read

tl;dr : View the chart at the bottom for a quick rundown between the top 3 privacy-focused analytics platforms.

I have a huge problem with Google Analytics. The idea is that you get free analytics on the users of your site in exchange for sharing those analytics with Google. All that data is getting matched with other site data all over the web. You're essentially giving away your user's personal data to Google so that it can be used against them. Not exactly a fair, or ethical, trade.

Originally, I built my own analytics platform for RoutineHub, but I found over time that it was hard to maintain, and probably wasn't filtering out bad data. So I did some research and found that there are a few privacy-focused analytics platforms out there doing exactly what I'm looking for. I trialed three of these platforms simultaneously to see which one works best for my needs. Here are the results.

Plausible

Preview

Plausible is a single-person project built by Uku Täht launched in April of 2019. Even though it's only been out for a short period of time, it boasts some interesting features.

Plausible has basic analytics like unique visitors, current visitors, total page-views, top referrers, top pages, top countries, screen size, operating system, and browser. It also has support for Google Search Keywords which is a pretty nifty feature. It's really simple, loads quickly and keeps up to date very well.

One thing I've had a problem with is that the data doesn't match up with my timezone completely. I've reached out to Uku about this, and he's pretty easy to get a hold of and is working on fixing the issue.

The price-point is much less than the competitors which makes it a great way to get into basic privacy-focused analytics. You can track as many sites as you want, the tiers are based on number of page-views.

  • Up to 10K page-views a month - $6/month
  • Up to 100K page-views a month - $12/month
  • Up to 1M page-views a month - $36/month

Simple Analytics

Preview

Simple Analytics was launched in September of 2018 by Adriaan van Rossum. He has added a couple other people to the now 3-person team.

The data points Simple Analytics stores are pretty much the same as Plausible, except they don't have unique visitors. They probably are trying to make it more anonymous, but there are ways to check for uniqueness without storing actual IP addresses.

I do really like that they have an API. Having that access is nice for if you need granular data for your users.

I also like that they have support for a custom domain. This means you can have the analytics requests coming from within your own domain which helps lessen the amount of traffic getting stopped by ad blockers.

Simple Analytics is the most expensive compared to its competitors. All tiers have unlimited amount of sites.

  • Up to 100K page-views a month - $19/month
  • Up to 1M page-views a month - $59/month
  • Over 1M page-views a month - Call for pricing

Fathom

Preview

Fathom is a project built between Paul Jarvis and Jack Ellis and launched in April of 2018. Out of the three analytics platforms discussed here, it's been around the longest.

Fathom has all the normal data points you would need, plus some extra ones that I find very useful. For instance, being able to see where current users are coming from right now is a handy feature. If you have a huge spike in traffic, you can see where it's coming from and act accordingly. Some other good data points are average time on site and bounce rate.

Fathom's pricing is right in the middle of the other two services. You can track as many sites as you want, the tiers are based on number of page-views.

  • Up to 100K page-views a month - $14/month
  • Up to 1M page-views a month - $44/month
  • Up to 5M page-views a month - $114/month

Analytics Differences

Obviously there are going to be some difference in analytics numbers, but I found some interesting discrepancies between the three.

Plausible Simple Analytics Fathom
Unique Visitors 38.1K n/a 42.9K
Total Page Views 156K 134K 155.6K
Current Visitors 17 7 19

This data is for all traffic between November 1st (12AM) and November 11th (10AM).

I found these differences quite interesting. Simple Analytics seems to be more on the conservative side, but this is probably because some ad blockers block it. Plausible and Fathom have around the same amount. I'm not sure which one is more accurate. All three are less than the amount my own system was recording, probably due to filtering out spam and other bad requests.

Here are the screenshots that this data is coming from:

Plausible
Fathom
Simple Analytics

Final Thoughts

All three have their pros and cons, as you can see from the chart below. However, for the price and it's feature set, Fathom seems to be a good fit for my site. Google Search Keywords and custom domain support would both be nice, but I can live without them for now. Current visitor details, average time on site and bounce rate are all killer features that help me make better decisions.

Simple Analytics are a bit too simple for me at the moment for its price point, but the roadmap looks very positive.

Plausible is really affordable with its price point, but it doesn't have quite as many features as the other two platforms.

If you're just starting out or have a smaller budget, Plausible is a great choice. If you're looking for more data and can spend a little more, Fathom is your best bet.

Comparison Chart

Plausible Simple Analytics Fathom
Price (1M page-views) $36/month $59/month $44/month
Trial 30 days 7 days 7 days
Current Visitors ✔️ ✔️ ✔️+
Unique Visitors ✔️ ✔️
Total Pageviews ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Custom Date Range ✔️/❌ ✔️ ✔️
Top Referrers ✔️+ ✔️+ ✔️
Top Pages ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Top Countries ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Screen Size ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Operating System ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Browser ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Avg Time On Site ✔️
Bounce Rate 🗺️ ✔️
Goals/Events 🗺️ 👨‍💻 ✔️
Bypass Privacy Badger ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Bypass uBlock ✔️ ✔️
Google Search Keywords ✔️ 🗺️
Custom Domain ✔️
Download your data ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Public Visibility ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Open Source ✔️ ✔️/ ❌
API ✔️ 🗺️
GDPR compliant ✔️ ✔️
Key
✔️ Yes
✔️+ Yes with details
🗺️ On roadmap
👨‍💻 In beta
✔️/❌ Partial
Unsure
No

Discussion (5)

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markosaric profile image
Marko Saric

Hi Harley! Thanks for including Plausible Analytics in the list (I'm the co-founder). Someone just shared your post with me as they were researching Plausible and thought the list had inaccurate info about Plausible. Would it be possible for you to update the post please? Thanks!

  • Plausible is now a two-person team.
  • There shouldn't be any issues with timezones.
  • We've now added several new subscription plans including a 33% discount for annual plans so the lowest plan is now at $4/month
  • We now have realtime dashboard which includes everything that's happening on your site in real time
  • We have custom date range
  • We have average time on site (total and per referral source)
  • We have bounce rate (total, per referral source and per page)
  • We have goals/events
  • We support custom domains
  • We are GDPR compliant

Some of the other things not in your list that you could include are features that we provide such as:

  • referral drilldown
  • page drilldown
  • full UTM tags support

You can see the product in our live demo: plausible.io/plausible.io

Thanks for your time!

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hmhrex profile image
Harley Hicks Author

Hey Marko, this post is pretty old, so things have likely changed quite a bit. I'll update this list with your changes.

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carolstran profile image
Carolyn Stransky

This post was suuuuuuper useful when I was deciding which tracker to put on my personal site. Thank you!

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pianomanfrazier profile image
Ryan Frazier

Great comparison. Thanks.

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roessli profile image
David Roessli

Great comparaison, thanks!
Just to complete the info presented : Fathom offers custom domains and site uptime monitoring.