Basic information

  • URL
  • Cost: Varies: includes both free and fee-based versions with optional paid premium plugins for advanced features
  • Open source: Yes

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.

More Resources

How to use this tool for use/reuse assessment

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 Acquisition > 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.

Social Media

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 Acquisition > Social Networks. If using Matomo On-Premise, one can configure which sites they consider to be social networks by using the Referrers Manager plugin.

Event Tracking

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 event tracking is similar in syntax and purpose to the same feature in Google Analytics (UA version). Using Javascript, one can provide values for three text fields (Category, Action, Name) and one numeric field (Value) to be logged with each event. This data is reported under Behavior > Events.

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 Behavior > Downloads, and Behavior > Outlinks.


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.

Internet Service Provider

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.

Ethical guidelines

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.

Additional guidelines for responsible practice

  • Matomo provides a privacy configuration guide that explains the privacy implications of tracking web analytics data and shows several ways to configure the software to protect users’ privacy.
  • In a default setup, Matomo anonymizes IP addresses by masking the final octet of the address (e.g., 12.214.31.XXX). It empowers an implementer to mask this information further, with options for 2-byte (12.214.XXX.XXX) or 3-byte masking (12.XXX.XXX.XXX)
  • Matomo provides several more easily configured privacy options, for example, enabling users to opt-out of tracking; automatically deleting raw data after a set period of time; and cookie-less tracking.

See A National Forum on Web Privacy and Web Analytics: Action Handbook (2019, p. 5) for a Five-Point Plan for Privacy-Aware Analytics.


  • Matomo is the most privacy-conscious web analytics platform. It empowers implementers to easily configure privacy-related settings, and to clearly understand the implications of doing so.

  • With Matomo On-Premise, the data collected belongs only to the practitioner’s organization and cannot be accessed by anyone else. With cloud hosting, Matomo makes it clear that the implementer retains all rights, titles, and interest in the user data. Matomo never uses sampled data for reporting. Any report run uses 100% actual data.

  • As open source software, Matomo’s source code is transparent. On-Premise implementers can see exactly how it works, make modifications to the code, or contribute development resources toward improving it. The core software currently has about 300 contributors.

  • Data can be easily exported from the UI in the following formats: CSVJSONXMLRSSHTML.

  • Whether using the cloud or self-hosted service, there are no limits on how much data can be collected or stored. 

  • Having options to run the software either as a hosted service or on a locally managed server–and migrate between the two approaches–can make Matomo appealing to a wide range of institutions with different technical and financial resource constraints.

  • Using its cookie-less mode and additional configurations, Matomo asserts it can be run without a cookie or tracking consent banner and still be compliant with GDPR and other privacy regulations.

  • It includes a module to migrate data from Google Analytics.


  • Matomo requires particular technical knowledge and expertise to install and maintain if using Matomo On-Premise. Even if self-hosting, some modules must be purchased for advanced features.

  • It is not yet natively supported for use in popular digital asset management platforms to the extent that Google Analytics is. However, this may change in time. For instance, Islandora now uses Matomo by default, and work is underway to integrate Matomo with Hyrax/Hyku.

Real world examples

  • Cornell university library reports the use of Matomo (formerly Piwik) to track a large number of university library websites.
    The paper summarizes the literature on web analytics tools, rationalizes the choice of Matomo (formerly known as Piwik), and describes the process of migrating from Google Analytics to Matomo.

    Chandler, A., & Wallace, M. (2016). Using Piwik instead of Google analytics at the Cornell university libraryThe Serials Librarian71(3-4), 173-179. 

  • Using Matomo (formerly Piwik) to measure interactions with a digital asset viewer interface at The National Library of Luxembourg
    The author compares Piwik to Google Analytics and Open Web Analytics, then describes using Piwik event tracking to assess how users interact with a digital image viewer interface.

    Marschall, R. P. (2017). Improving the user experience of a digital content viewer through advanced analytics. In 2017 IFLA International News Media Conference., Iceland, 4/27/2017. 

  • Using Matomo (formerly Piwik) with the Koha open source integrated library management OPAC system to measure website usage and user activities.
    The paper reviews the steps in the integration of the Koha OPAC integrated library system with Piwik user interface.

    Mandal, S. (2019). Site Metrics Study of Koha OPAC through Open Web Analytics and Piwik ToolsLibrary Philosophy and Practice (e-Journal)

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