Tip of the Week CW 05 (2022)

Understanding unique key figures

The total number of visitors (also referred to as users or ‘unique users’) and visits (also referred to as sessions) is a source of irritation from time to time. The reason for this is that the total number shown in the reports rarely corresponds to the sum of the individual values. This is due to the fact that several pages can be called up in one visit or by one visitor. This can be compared to a department store with several departments. If on the one hand all entering customers are counted at the entrance of the department store as well as in each case in the departments, then the summed up number of the customers per department is probably higher than the entrances counted at the entrance altogether. Because a customer can visit several departments during its attendance.

Also in this example the sum of the single values for the area ‘Herrenschuhe’ is far above the unique total number:

In addition, it is important to view the visitor count with caution; after all, it is dependent on the technical limitations of visitor recognition. In order to recognize a visitor on subsequent days, it is necessary, among other things, that

  1. cookie activation is used by etracker and is correctly linked to Consent Management.
  2. visitors agree to the setting of statistical cookies.
  3. the cookie has not been blocked, deleted or the runtime changed by means of browser settings (see https://www.cookiestatus.com/) or “ad blocker”.

The number of visitors in the reports accurately reflects the technically determinable number. The calculated number of visitors based on visitors with activated cookies is extrapolated, but should be closer to reality. The calculated number of visitors is calculated as follows:

Number (of all) visits / frequency of visits (based on visitors with cookies) = calculated number of visitors.

In our example this results in:

1,739 visits / 1.42 visits per visitor = 1,225 visitors.

Based on the consent rate of just under 24%, this results in a difference of 254 visitors who (presumably, since extrapolated) could not be technically recognized, but actually already visited the website once during the period.

Whether one wants to work with this additional imputed number of visitors in reporting should be considered carefully. As an analyst, it is important to keep an eye on the technical boundary conditions when the number of visitors changes over time. Currently, the consent dialogs on many websites have to be adapted on the basis of the new guidance from the supervisory authorities, namely with an equivalent rejection option at the top level. This then naturally has an impact on the consent rate and thus the visitor recognition rate.

The focus of KPI monitoring should be on the key figures visits and number or relation to conversions, which are independent of consent in the recommended consent-free or hybrid tracking.

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