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How does GA count Frequency & Recency of visits during a time frame?

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How does GA count Frequency & Recency of visits during a time frame? AdamRYP 12/1/11 11:40 AM
This question regards the report at Audience > Behaviour > Frequency & Recency

Question: Does Google Analytics visits by a visitor only within that time frame, or does it count all visits by a visitor?

Example: Bob visits my site on 11/20 and 11/21. I view the Frequency & Recency report with a time range of one day, just 11/21. Will Bob show under "Count Of Visits: 1" or "Count Of Visits: 2"?

http://www.google.com/support/analyticshelp/bin/answer.py?answer=1144427 indicates that GA will only count visits during the report timeframe.

However, the report data appears to indicate the opposite. Viewing reports for a single day vs a month doesn't significantly change the % of visitors under "Count Of Visits: 1". If only visits during the time frame were counted, longer time frames should have a higher % of visitors with more than 1 visit, but this is not the case.

Can anyone shed light on this?2011-12-07

Should be "Question: Does Google Analytics count visits by a visitor only within the time frame you're viewing the report for, or does it count all visits by a visitor?"

Re: How does GA count Frequency & Recency of visits during a time frame? AdamRYP 12/7/11 11:15 AM
Anybody?

Another Example: James visits my site on 11/2 and again on 12/7. I view the Frequency & Recency report with a time range that includes all of December (but none of November. Will James show as "Count Of Visits: 1" or "Count Of Visits: 2"?
Re: How does GA count Frequency & Recency of visits during a time frame? DMacrory 1/31/12 4:55 AM
Hi Adam,
Looks like no one has respinded to your question. I'm something of a novice as to the technical specifics of Analytics, but relatively experienced in the day-to-day use of it, and have a number of hypotheses that may or may not be true. So here goes my one as to why you are seeing these results:
As you may know, the data is only as strong as the cookies, and the company I work for runs a number of B2B news sites with a very loyal customer base. But I too find that the vast majority of my visitors have only come once. This is almost ceertainly down to the fact that cookies are deleted relatively quickly, so the next time someone comes to the site, a new cookie will be created, and they are treated as a new user on their first visit to their site. Hopefully that makes sense?
I'm not sure where you are based, but in the EU at some point this summer, there is a law being passed that means that cookies can no longer be stored by default, but rather, every time a site wants to store a cookie, it has to ask the user for permission. EVERY TIME! Heaven knows how this will affect Analytics (obviously very badly!), but I reckon that, even if they find a way round it, there will be a lot more anomalies showing up like your above question
Re: How does GA count Frequency & Recency of visits during a time frame? TiderB 7/19/12 1:42 PM
Hey Adam - not sure if this is still relevant to you, but I've been dealing with the same issue and got an answer for this question from Cardinal Path so I wanted to post:

According to Google Analytics, this report lets you see how frequently visitors return to your site within a time frame (once, twice, ten times, etc.)

Unfortunately, you're correct that the report is not working as advertised. Instead of tracking visit counts within a custom time period, Google actually just tracks visit count as a lifetime value for the cookie, so if user A has been to the site 7 times over the last year (without clearing cookies), and comes back twice more during your custom time period, he'll show up as 1 visit with visit count = 8 and one visit for visit count = 9. 

This of course overstates the repeat visit numbers and makes it look like user A visited the site 9 times during your time period instead of twice.

In my case, I was attempting to show that X% of our users come back at least 5 times a week and account for X% of Visits and X% of page views. Then I would create a similar statement for a 3 day period and one day period as a way of looking at how influential our heaviest users were. 

As a lesser alternative to the Frequency report, we looked at the “days since last visit” report for assistance:

• When looking at a single day of data we can see that any returning visitors with a “Days since last visit” count of 0 must have come to the site at least twice during that single day.
• We can also see visitors that have been to the site 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 days before, showing that their visit was a repeat visit but not their first visit of the day.
• Lastly, we can see a count of new visitors to the site that day with no previous visits.

So to get at some kind of visitor segmentation for the week:
•Apply the "Repeat Visitor" Advanced segment and run days since last visit report one day a time starting with Sunday (or whatever day your custom time period starts with):
On Sunday, we count repeat visitors that had already visited on Sunday. On Monday we count repeat visitors that visited on Monday or Sunday (1 day earlier). On Tuesday, we count repeat visitors that had visited on Tuesday, Monday (1 day before) or Sunday (2 days prior), and so on for the full week through Saturday.
•We can calculate “visits from visitors that have been to the site in prior weeks” by subtracting the above calculation from total repeat visits for the week and we can separately see new visits to the site.
•We are undercounting the true impact of this group because we are unable to count the number of users that are visiting often (only the number of visits) so we can’t credit the initial visits of the week to this highly engaged group – merely their repeat visits.

So we end up with a slightly awkward stat of:
X% of visits and X% of pageviews are generated by visitors that have already been to the site during the time period. Another X% of visits and X% of pageviews come from visitors that have been to the site before but its their first visit during this period, and the remaining X% of visits and X% of Pageviews are generated by first time site visitors. 

Hope this is helpful - feel free to reach out if you have any questions on the method. 

Hopefully Google will change the language or update the report to do what the documentation suggests. 

 


Re: How does GA count Frequency & Recency of visits during a time frame? PremierPanic 9/21/12 10:39 AM
Hi - are you able to share the link to the article on Cardinal Path?

Was grappling with this for a while - unsure why my count of visits 1 bucket were consistently smaller then my unique visitors for a given time period if users were required to visit once in order to visit twice (and thus must populate the count 1 bucket before they can populate the count 2 bucket).

Is there any reference to Google acknowledging this? It is wildly confusing.