New Vocab Update to Google Analytics

I was running an Analytics report the other day with a client to discuss PageViews and Unique PageViews for a new cluster of landing pages we had created, but low and behold: The PageView data was gone!

Instead there was something called Sessions. I hovered over the little question mark hoping to figure out what I was looking at, but Google’s vague definition did little to help my confusion.

The hover-state pop-up says: “Sessions include; Screen Views, Events, Ecommerce, etc.”

Really, etc.? Thanks for the help, Google. 


What I learned.

Upon further investigation it looks like it’s nothing more than a vocabulary shake-up and another step to make data more device-independent.

Use this as a cheat sheet:

  • A Unique Visitor = New User
  • Visits = Sessions
  • Screen View = Mobile PageView
  • Event = A user action (See our post on Event Tracking)
  • Ecommerce = Transaction completion (Ecommerce must be set up for this)

It seems that the main reason for this change is to combine visitor information across multiple devices. Previously, there were different definitions for visits that came from “mobile vs. web application vs. laptop, etc.” so Google is trying to combine these for more accurate tracking.

Within your Analytics admin panel you can manually set up the User ID feature to track user data across multiple devices. That’s the goal, at least.

What the heck does etc. mean?!

In terms of Sessions, it refers to your visitors intentions.

Each visitor intention is deemed a session. Meaning, if they enter the site from a keyword search, all of their actions are considered one session. Their intent for being on the site is likely the same throughout the entire visit.

For example, let’s say I visit from my mobile device to look at Seahawks hats, but don’t buy one. Then later that night on my tablet I decide to take another look at and I end up buying a Hawks hat. When it arrives five days later it has a tear in it motivating me to go back to their website and contact customer support.

This would count as three sessions; three devices, three intentions.

You can choose to track these independently but you’d have to set up a custom filter to do so.  I suggest setting up a “Custom View” for these filters to keep your data as clean as possible.

Hope that helps clears up the new Google Analytics definitions. Contact us if you have questions or want to share more info on cross-device data tracking.