Matomo, formerly known as Piwik, is the most robust open source competitor to Google Analytics. It is currently used by over one million websites. The software requires a webserver, PHP programming language, and a MySQL/MariaDB database to run. It can be used for free if self-hosting (using “Matomo On-Premise”), or for a monthly fee using the hosted “Matomo Cloud” service. Matomo’s capabilities for tracking use or reuse are quite similar to Google Analytics, but whether self-hosted or cloud, the service has a distinct focus on protecting user privacy.
Consult the Web Analytics data collection method guide for more general information about each of the following strategies.
Practitioners can use a list of referrers to help determine the context of use or reuse. Strategies can range from using URL patterns as the basis for segmenting different kinds of incoming traffic to actually visiting the referring pages in order to analyze the links in context.
Matomo reports referrers under
Websites. The hostname is available in the “Website” field, and this can be expanded to show specific referring page paths under “Website Page.” Note that due to recent changes in how browsers report referrers in HTTP headers, the full referring path will often be unavailable.
Traffic to digital objects originating via social media might signal a distinct type of sharing that institutions would consider to be reuse.
Matomo distinguishes social media platforms from other referring sites, listing social traffic under
Social Networks. If using Matomo On-Premise, one can configure which sites they consider to be social networks by using the Referrers Manager plugin.
Web analytics packages support granular, targeted tracking of specific interactions within a site. Practitioners may identify elements of their web user interface that signal reuse when clicked by a user (e.g., share, download, or export buttons), and track that data for reporting purposes.
Matomo’s Tag Manager plugin also offers a convenient way to configure event tracking through the UI as an alternative to writing scripts. And like the GA4 Google Analytics version, some interaction events such as file downloads and clicks on outbound links get collected automatically by Matomo. Reports are available under
Some digital asset management software supports an “embed code” feature to empower users to reuse digital objects by putting interactive versions of them in external sites (often in an
<iframe>). The service providing the source of the
<iframe> should have a separate web analytics property. External sites embedding the objects are logged as referrers within that property.
Matomo On-Premise can support an unlimited number of tracked sites. The same is true of Matomo Cloud, although pricing may be impacted by the number of sites.
Some GLAMR institutions have used IP-derived service provider data to distinguish digital object use from within academic or government institutions from other contexts.
When using Matomo On-Premise, practitioners may activate and configure plugins for capturing geolocation and service provider from IP addresses. Third-party vendors DB-IP and MaxMind offer licensed databases with this information for a fee. Both also offer a free “Lite” version of their geolocation and ISP databases, with significantly reduced coverage and accuracy.
Practitioners should follow the practices laid out in the “Ethical considerations and guidelines for the assessment of use and reuse of digital content.” The Guidelines are meant both to inform practitioners in their decision-making, and to model for users what they can expect from those who steward digital collections.
See A National Forum on Web Privacy and Web Analytics: Action Handbook (2019, p. 5) for a Five-Point Plan for Privacy-Aware Analytics.