Google Analytics Content Groups – “Unique Views” vs “Sessions”
The question came up recently within the Digital Analytics Association member forum regarding whether one could interchange the Google Analytic’s “Unique Views” metric found when viewing a Content Group and the “Sessions” metric found when using Advanced Segments. They were asking because they had a preference for using Advanced Segments, but wanted to make sure they were comparing apples to apples. The question boiled down to this:
If I create a content group defined as “contains /blog/” and an advanced segment defined as “sessions that viewed pages which contain /blog/”, will the “Unique Views” metric for the content group be the same as the “Sessions” metric for the advanced segment?
The answer is yes. Let’s look into why.
When you create a content group and view the “All Pages” report with your content group selected, you’ll notice that the first 2 metrics displayed are “Pageviews” and “Unique Views”. Don’t be thrown off here. You may be familiar with “Pageviews”, but “Unique Views” is not “Unique Pageviews”. It’s a metric only available when viewing content groups.
Google provides the following definition for Unique Views:
“The Unique Views count for a given content group represents the number of sessions in which a page in that group was viewed one or more times.”
Notice how this is different from “Unique Pageviews” which is the number of sessions in which a page was viewed one or more time. In the context of a Content Group, we care less about how many times pages were viewed uniquely, and more about how many times any page within a group was viewed uniquely. This concept is shown below:
So we’ve established the difference between Unique Pageviews and Unique Views, but can we treat Unique Views the same as “Sessions who viewed this content group”? Again, the answer is yes. If you look at the diagram above and imagine a second session coming to visit content group A and B, our unique views would increment to 2. Despite the difference in labels, Unique Views is simply counting the sessions that viewed those content groups. This can be validated through the reporting interface that these numbers will be the same whether viewed as Sessions in an advanced segment or Unique Views in a content group:
While the use case for comparing these results may be rare, it was surprising how little information there was online comparing Unique Views and Sessions. Hopefully this clarifies the relationship.