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Confusing metrics:
Unique visitors, visits, time spent
Dana Chinn




                                      March 2010
Unique visitors


        visit websites,



           generate page views.




                                  2
A “unique visitor” is actually a “unique computer”




                                                     3
Unique visitors may be over- or undercounted




              Work                  =33 unique visitors
                                    = unique visitors

                            Hotel



           Home




                                    = 1 unique visitor

                     Work

                                                          4
The no. of unique visitors is based on the time period you specify.

                S        M         T       W      Th        F         S

                                       1   2         3          4         5
 July 6-12


July 13-19



July 20-26

July 27-31
                                                     31

     The number of “daily unique visitors”
           ...on Tuesday, July 1, is six
                  ...on Friday, July 4, is three
                                                                              5
S   M      T       W   Th    F      S

                            1
July 6-12


July 13-19



July 20-26

July 27-31
                                     31

    The number of “weekly unique visitors”
           ...for the week of July 6-12 is six

                                                     6
S   M    T       W   Th    F       S

                          1   2    3        4       5
July 6-12


July 13-19



July 20-26

July 27-31
                                   31

    The number of “monthly unique visitors”
         ...for the month of July is seven

                                                        7
Daily UV counts can’t make weekly UVs,
weekly UVs can’t make monthly UVs, etc.


                              S
                              M
                              T
                              W
                              Th
                              F
                              Sa




                                          8
The math of visits
A visit is a period of activity separated by
at least 30 minutes of inactivity.
 A visitor clicks into your site at 1 p.m., surfs for 20 minutes, then clicks into CNN.com.

       One visit

           A visitor clicks into your site at 1 p.m., surfs for 45 minutes, talks
           on the phone for 30 minutes without touching the keyboard, then
           hangs up and goes back to your site for 20 minutes before
           clicking into CNN.com.
                        Visit 1: 45 minutes      Visit 2: 20 minutes
                                                                         Two visits
 A visitor clicks into your site at 1 p.m., surfs for one hour, leaves
 his computer for 29 minutes, and then comes back and surfs for
 another hour before clicking into CNN.com.
        Visit time: 2 hours, 29 minutes
                                            One visit
                                                                                              9
Don’t waste time on “time spent on site”




   “Time spent” isn’t a useful metric
   because it doesn’t indicate engagement

           ...and the way it’s calculated
           is really ugly




                                            10
“Time spent” is:
The total time in between a visitor’s first page view
and the visitor’s last page view

...which means
                       The amount of time a visitor spent on the last page view isn’t included

                                          Bounces are included as zero, or no time - but the visitor
                                          could have indeed been actively looking at the page


                              Flash, other dynamic content isn’t counted as a page view

                                         You really don’t know the time truly spent. If a visit is
                                         counted at 29 minutes, you don’t know if the person was
                                         truly on the site for all 29 minutes or if he/she walked away
                                         between minutes 1 and 28.



     Also see http://www.newsnumbers.com/2010/03/wasting-time.html
                                                                                                         11
Dana Chinn                          Blog
                                       http://www.newsnumbers.com
Lecturer
    chinn@usc.edu
    213-821-6259

Analytics for news orgs bookmarks
  http://www.delicious.com/
danachinn

Presentations
   http://www.slideshare.net/
danachinn

Twitter: DanaChinn



                                                             12

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Unique visitors, visits, time spent

  • 1. Confusing metrics: Unique visitors, visits, time spent Dana Chinn March 2010
  • 2. Unique visitors visit websites, generate page views. 2
  • 3. A “unique visitor” is actually a “unique computer” 3
  • 4. Unique visitors may be over- or undercounted Work =33 unique visitors = unique visitors Hotel Home = 1 unique visitor Work 4
  • 5. The no. of unique visitors is based on the time period you specify. S M T W Th F S 1 2 3 4 5 July 6-12 July 13-19 July 20-26 July 27-31 31 The number of “daily unique visitors” ...on Tuesday, July 1, is six ...on Friday, July 4, is three 5
  • 6. S M T W Th F S 1 July 6-12 July 13-19 July 20-26 July 27-31 31 The number of “weekly unique visitors” ...for the week of July 6-12 is six 6
  • 7. S M T W Th F S 1 2 3 4 5 July 6-12 July 13-19 July 20-26 July 27-31 31 The number of “monthly unique visitors” ...for the month of July is seven 7
  • 8. Daily UV counts can’t make weekly UVs, weekly UVs can’t make monthly UVs, etc. S M T W Th F Sa 8
  • 9. The math of visits A visit is a period of activity separated by at least 30 minutes of inactivity. A visitor clicks into your site at 1 p.m., surfs for 20 minutes, then clicks into CNN.com. One visit A visitor clicks into your site at 1 p.m., surfs for 45 minutes, talks on the phone for 30 minutes without touching the keyboard, then hangs up and goes back to your site for 20 minutes before clicking into CNN.com. Visit 1: 45 minutes Visit 2: 20 minutes Two visits A visitor clicks into your site at 1 p.m., surfs for one hour, leaves his computer for 29 minutes, and then comes back and surfs for another hour before clicking into CNN.com. Visit time: 2 hours, 29 minutes One visit 9
  • 10. Don’t waste time on “time spent on site” “Time spent” isn’t a useful metric because it doesn’t indicate engagement ...and the way it’s calculated is really ugly 10
  • 11. “Time spent” is: The total time in between a visitor’s first page view and the visitor’s last page view ...which means The amount of time a visitor spent on the last page view isn’t included Bounces are included as zero, or no time - but the visitor could have indeed been actively looking at the page Flash, other dynamic content isn’t counted as a page view You really don’t know the time truly spent. If a visit is counted at 29 minutes, you don’t know if the person was truly on the site for all 29 minutes or if he/she walked away between minutes 1 and 28. Also see http://www.newsnumbers.com/2010/03/wasting-time.html 11
  • 12. Dana Chinn Blog http://www.newsnumbers.com Lecturer chinn@usc.edu 213-821-6259 Analytics for news orgs bookmarks http://www.delicious.com/ danachinn Presentations http://www.slideshare.net/ danachinn Twitter: DanaChinn 12