Due to the means in which MashMetrics measures Session Time (and Scroll Tracking) there may be time’s where your Users, Sessions and Page Views may seem misaligned. In fact, when you look closer, it is telling you more of the truth.
Out of the box, Google Analytics ONLY is measuring when your page is loaded. That is it. Period. If a user opens your page in a new tab, or comes back after 30 minutes (the defined length of a session) … nothing used to happen according to Google Analytics.
With the events setup by MashMetrics such as Scroll Tracking, Time on Page counters, Outbound Link Clicks, etc…we measure many of the interactions taking place on your website, and that could happen hours, days or yes even weeks after. From working with 100’s of websites, we have learned…people do not close their tabs anymore … especially on their mobile devices.
For some websites, when looking at the data, this can initially cause confusion when the number of Users or Sessions is higher than the number of Page Views.
SOLUTION: Install and Apply this Segment to your profile: Click here
This essentially takes away all sessions where there is no Landing Page .. meaning they were already on a page and have not loaded it again … but they either downloaded a file, clicked offsite, or made several other interactions tracked as events. You can look at the Audience > User Explorer reports to see actual user clickthrough data. Also see below.
A Quick review first …
A PageView for Google Analytics is every time a page is loaded. Obvious right?
A Session is every time a user comes back to the website (A session lasts 30 minutes) and makes an interaction (NOT just a pageview!)
A User is measured essentially by a cookie which is NOT shared across browsers, devices, and sometimes (mainly with iPhones) when the Wi-Fi network, location, and many other variables change. In short … it is NOT a person, unless you have users that are logging in…every time!
So, let’s say I am on the subway searching on yummly for some amazing recipes for dinner. (New Tab, New Tab, New Tab … ) I have 6 tabs open on my iPad. (or more?!?!) Who has not done this!Oops … here is my stop. iPad shutdown … off to work
LUNCHTIME! let’s open those recipes again. 1, 2, 3 … oh here is a great one, let me scroll through…or spend a good amount of time on the page (more than 45 seconds). Then you click on the offsite reference link.
Back before MashMetrics, this LUNCHTIME activity would just be left ignored. A tree falling in an empty forest as it were. No new Page Load, no new Page View or Session or User. MashMetrics more adequately measures ENGAGEMENT, not just simple Page Loads. So now, when this happens … an event fires (see Goals and Events post) so we can see how users are interacting with your content. This IS a New Session (they came back after 30 minutes), but not another Page View.
Due to the way Google Analytics measures a user (and honestly, to keep everyone’s Privacy, the best current way) it may even be treated as a New User. This happens quite often with the iPad due to the way it handles cookie’s and device users. (See below)
For most MashMetrics Customers, the Difference Will be less than 1% and look like this:
Notice that the PageViews stay EXACTLY the same, in both cases. There is, however, a slight difference in the number of Users and Sessions.
However, in rare cases, due to a number of latent users on your website, this may go well beyond that threshold.
NOTE: We do see this more when 70% or more of traffic is coming from Social media (not an issue but a result in latent activity), the website has a high (over 10-15seconds) Page Load speed (this should be addressed from a developer), or 3rd party scripts are causing issues.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will investigate.
1) There were quite a bit of users that came to the website, left the tab open (though not visible) then came back later. In this case, there ARE more Sessions than Users. And because of the limited means in which the Internet defines a User (ie person) that is rather inflated.
2) If the Latent Sessions Adjustment is applied, this issue will be highly limited. We are essentially filtering for when a Session does not contain a Page View, or they came back much later.
3) This is the opposite of the Segment #2, and ONLY contains those instances. Notice there are NO Pageviews. The session time is lower because the user is likely jumping back and forth.
You can see, the inflated users issue is a huge issue on Apple Devices/iPhones, iPads, etc., where as “users” are highly over counted. (even in many NON MashMetrics installations)
This example would NOT affect the Session Count. We do not send an “interaction hit” to GA for any timing event after 45seconds.
The user opened a page through Organic Search and came back to the page 4 times, over 3 DAYS. Before Enhanced GA, this would count as 1 User, 1 Session and 1 PV, with a session time of 0:00 (they bounced, and never went to another page.)
Also notice how whereas our Event Timers are counting the time spent on the page (in 15-second increments) only when the page is actually visible, the time elapsed is minutes, sometimes hours later…proving the point made earlier of latent activity on the internet.
This example WOULD affect the Session Count. We send an “interaction hit” to GA when the user hits 45 seconds, this is how we gain the “Adjusted Bounce Rate“.
This guy/gal/… keeps coming to the page/tab … staying just over 45seconds, then leaving.
There is very strange activity out there on the Internet. Very strange.
iPhone User issue
Because the iPhone resets their session and user cookies differently than other devices and browsers, this happens especially often with the iPhone.