What are the pros and cons of using log files instead of JavaScript tracking?

The web-log analysis is an alternative route to analyze website visitors. Instead of using the JavaScript tracking code, it relies on a log file from a web server. The log file contains information about the visitor and his session. But the data collected by the tracking code may differ from what can be pulled out from the log file. Therefore it’s good for you to know the differences between those two routes.

Pros:

  • Log analytics does not require changes in a website’s code. Hence, this method is recommended for data-sensitive websites such as a bank, government or health-care website.
  • Log analytics is not affected by tracking blockers.
  • For greater security, the server with web-log analytics can be different from the web server.
  • You can use log files to import historical data to Piwik PRO account.

Cons:

  • It’s easier to set up the tracking with the JavaScript code. To use log analytics you need to have the technical knowledge and have access to the web server.
  • The JavaScript tracking code collects more accurate data. For example, log analytics will not have information about the page title  or screen resolution.
  • Log analytics can’t track custom dimensions, ecommerce, or other custom elements.
  • Log analytics limits you only to Analytics. You can’t use Tag Manager, Consent Manager or Audience Manager with this tracking method. 

For more, see “Web Log Analytics.”

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