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Cloudflare’s privacy-first Web Analytics is now available for everyone


5 min read

In September, we announced that we’re building a new, free Web Analytics product for the whole web. Today, I’m excited to announce that anyone can now sign up to use our new Web Analytics — even without changing your DNS settings. In other words, Cloudflare Web Analytics can now be deployed by adding an HTML snippet (in the same way many other popular web analytics tools are) making it easier than ever to use privacy-first tools to understand visitor behavior.

Why does the web need another analytics service?

Popular analytics vendors have business models driven by ad revenue. Using them implies a bargain: they track visitor behavior and create buyer profiles to retarget your visitors with ads; in exchange, you get free analytics.

At Cloudflare, our mission is to help build a better Internet, and part of that is to deliver essential web analytics to everyone with a website, without compromising user privacy. For free. We’ve never been interested in tracking users or selling advertising. We don’t want to know what you do on the Internet — it’s not our business.

Our customers have long relied on Cloudflare’s Analytics because we’re accurate, fast, and privacy-first. In September we released a big upgrade to analytics for our existing customers that made them even more flexible.

However, we know that there are many folks who can’t use our analytics, simply because they’re not able to onboard to use the rest of Cloudflare for Infrastructure — specifically, they’re not able to change their DNS servers. Today, we’re bringing the power of our analytics to the whole web. By adding a simple HTML snippet to your website, you can start measuring your web traffic — similar to other popular analytics vendors.

What can I do with Cloudflare Web Analytics?

We’ve worked hard to make our analytics as powerful and flexible as possible — while still being fast and easy to use.

When measuring analytics about your website, the most common questions are “how much traffic did I get?” and “how many people visited?” We answer this by measuring page views (the total number of times a page view was loaded) and visits (the number of times someone landed on a page view from another website).

With Cloudflare Web Analytics, it’s easy to switch between measuring page views or visits. Within each view, you can see top pages, countries, device types and referrers.

My favorite thing is the ability to add global filters, and to quickly drill into the most important data with actions like “zoom” and “group by”. Say you publish a new blog post, and you want to see the top sites that send you traffic right after you email your subscribers about it. It’s easy to zoom into the time period when you hit the email, and group by to see the top pages. Then you can add a filter to just that page — and then finally view top referrers for that page. It’s magic!

Best of all, our analytics is free. We don’t have limits based on the amount of traffic you can send it. Thanks to our ABR technology, we can serve accurate analytics for websites that get anywhere from one to one billion requests per day.

How does the new Web Analytics work?

Traditionally, Cloudflare Analytics works by measuring traffic at our edge. This has some great benefits; namely, it catches all traffic, even from clients that block JavaScript or don’t load HTML. At the edge, we can also block bots, add protection from our WAF, and measure the performance of your origin server.

The new Web Analytics works like most other measurement tools: by tracking visitors on the client. We’ve long had client-side measuring tools with Browser Insights, but these were only available to orange-cloud users (i.e. Cloudflare customers).

Today, for the first time, anyone can get access to our client-side analytics — even if you don’t use the rest of Cloudflare. Just add our JavaScript snippet to any website, and we can start collecting metrics.

How do I sign up?

We’ve worked hard making our onboarding as simple as possible.

First, enter the name of your website. It’s important to use the domain name that your analytics will be served on — we use this to filter out any unwanted “spam” analytics reports.

(At this time, you can only add analytics from one website to each Cloudflare account. In the coming weeks we’ll add support for multiple analytics properties per account.)

Next, you’ll see a script tag that you can copy onto your website. We recommend adding this just before the closing </body> tag on the pages you want to measure.

And that’s it! After you release your website and start getting visits, you’ll be able to see them in analytics.

What does privacy-first mean?

Being privacy-first means we don’t track individual users for the purposes of serving analytics. We don’t use any client-side state (like cookies or localStorage) for analytics purposes. Cloudflare also doesn’t track users over time via their IP address, User Agent string, or any other immutable attributes for the purposes of displaying analytics — we consider “fingerprinting” even more intrusive than cookies, because users have no way to opt out.

The concept of a “visit” is key to this approach. Rather than count unique IP addresses, which would require storing state about what each visitor does, we can simply count the number of page views that come from a different site. This provides a perfectly usable metric that doesn’t compromise on privacy.

What’s next

This is just the start for our privacy-first Analytics. We’re excited to integrate more closely with the rest of Cloudflare, and give customers even more detailed stats about performance and security (not just traffic.) We’re also hoping to make our analytics even more powerful as a standalone product by building support for alerts, real-time updates, and more.

Please let us know if you have any questions or feedback, and happy measuring!

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Jon Levine|@jplevine

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