The most consequential conversation online these days is around privacy.
- How do users consent to be tracked?
- What information should companies and brands collect on users?
As a marketer, I have used Google Analytics and other fairly invasive tracking tools. I see daily the amount of data collected from the user by Google. The data includes income, your exact location, demographics, and behavior data. This behavior data is especially alarming, with Google being able to identify if you're a new parent, if you're in the market to buy a car, and much more. There are analytic platforms like Fathom or Simple Analytics, that help limit the amount of data.
It's a massive amount of data! When combined with a CRM like Salesforce or Hubspot, it's straightforward to identify users and their info from a website. I can glean a ton of information from these platforms. It makes the ads even more targeted, and explains why people think Google and Facebook listen to their conversations.
Now, as a consumer, I have never really thought about these tracking pixels. I do have ad blockers on and sometimes move between the Chrome browser and the privacy-focused Brave browser. I am okay having Google collect some data on me to better tailor ads and pay for some free services.
How I found out about Fathom
I have heard Fathom mentioned before through the Indie Hackers and Product Hunt community. I had not explored the analytics before Kyle McDonald mentioned moving IronMic off Google Analytics. Part of starting this conversation was to address how Safari is going to block Google Analytics in the next version on MacOS.
At first, I argued we shouldn't move away from Google Analytics. I wanted to have the data as we scaled, but at the same time, I used Analytics to sync data back into Google Ads were we run search ads. I believed we needed the wealth of data, but in reality, we never used the data collected on the users. We didn't check analytics often because the system made it hard to access the data we wanted to know quickly. While I am certified with Analytics and know my way around the platform, it is still not quick or easy to create reports that everyone can understand.
Sunny made a great pro and con list for us!
- Pro: More feature-rich
- Pro: Exportable data to other marketing services
- Con: Seen as anti-privacy
- Con: Ad-blocked
- Con: Slows down pages
- Pro: Simple dashboard
- Pro: Privacy-focused
- Pro: Custom domain to prevent ad-blocking
- Pro: Better for performance
- Con: Not as feature-rich as GA
- Con: No team accounts
- Con: Paid
After seeing the pro and con list, I decided to give Fathom a try to understand whether the analytics platform could be a privacy-centered future. The other big reason I wanted to give Fathom a try is that sooner or later, more users will adopt these privacy-based browsers. Marketers (like myself) will need to start thinking about a future where tracking is limited, and we don't have the advance cross-site cookies.
The biggest draw is being able to bypass ad blockers but still keeping users' privacy. It allows anyone to fully understand how many users visit the site and see goal completion even if the user is using Safari, Brave, or an ad blocker that prevents Analytics from loading.
What I think of Fathom
Fathom Analytics is an incredibly boiled down version of what Google Analytics has become. It is basic analytics that includes data like time on page, bounce rates, and referral sources.
The dashboard is easy to glance at and see how many users interact with content or visit the website. There isn't hard to use filters, views, or audiences to slice the data up. There is an easy way to stop the analytics platform from tracking yourself that includes a simple edit on the browser's inspect tool.
Fathom Analytics is a great, simple analytics platform to use. It not only respects users' privacy but can bypass ad blockers and browsers like Brave. It helps provide insights into your blog or business's website without violating privacy or needing to add cookie consents.
Not tracking all the user data feels good, but at the same time, using Fathom isn't possible for every project yet. I cannot move away from Google Analytics with many market clients as they heavily rely on the data and conversions that to sync to Google Ads. I do want to influence these businesses further to think about users' privacy and how they can help users opt into tracking vs. being collected without any consent. When clients are not advertising, I'll suggest using Fathom over using Google Analytics. I'll also experiment on how to use Fathom Analytics with advertising and further expand advertising on Duck Duck Go.
With my website and my side project (IronMic), we'll be moving to the Fathom Analytics 100%. This website is already switched over and IronMic will make the switch in the next few weeks.
The privacy outweighs the need for data, and when I advertise on Google Ads, having the data isn't always needed. You can bid on keywords without the audience's data or understanding the demographics. I will continue to implement new privacy-focused tools and plan for how to advertise while respecting user's privacy.