Start simple right? And what is more simple than a pageview? Wait… what exactly is a pageview?
This is something that’s been daunting me for a while. Pageviews are unlike a lot of stuff in Analytics in that they aren’t counted in cookies, nor really in the utm.gif. A pageview is defined by the loading of a page but we all know that it’s not REALLY that. Nothing in analytics is ever REALLY what it seems to be.
Quick refresher: how does GA get your data?
- The page load activates the tracking code…
- …tracking code writes to the browser cookies…
- …the browser cookies provide data for the utm.gif query…
- …and the utm.gif query is recorded by Google.
Actually, it ends up there’s slightly more to it than that.
Google doesn’t know when a page loads. They know when _trackpageview() [eg. _trackPageview(‘/product334a/learn-more’)] sends a query to their system. From that they can extrapolate that a page was loaded. Then, each time the this code is executed, it creates a time stamp on Google’s servers. Simple right?
So a page was loaded. Which page? What was it’s title? Where were they coming from? What host served it? A pageview itself is meaningless without other data and that’s where the very concept of a “pageview” gets confusing.
So let’s say Google knows that the tracking code was called, how can they determine a particular pageview?
A pageview comprises a LOT of data in the gif request.
We have the usuals:
- Version (utmwv) 4.9.1
- Host id (utmhid) 1234567890
- Account (utmac) UA-10000-1
- Unique Request (utmn) 608131070
And we have the following which are more specific to the request:
- Title (utmdt) Analytics Settings – Google Analytics
- Referrer (utmr) (only on the landing page)
- Page URL (utmp) blog/what-is-a-pageview-ruga-part-3
And of course a few which we will get into in later posts:
- Encoding (utmcs) UTF-8
- Screen ResolutioN (utmsr) 1680×1050
- Color Depth (utmsc) 24-bit
- Language (utmul) en-us
- Java Enabled (utmje) 1
- Flash version (utmfl) 10.2 r152
- Hostname (utmhn) www.google.com
- utmu DI
- Domain hash(__utma) 173272373
- Visitor token(__utma) 96242600
- 1st visit start(__utma) February 1, 2011 5:56:12 PM
- Previous visit start(__utma) February 21, 2011 5:58:31 PM
- Current visit start(__utma) April 1, 2011 10:35:37 AM
- Visit count(__utma) 3
- Domain hash(__utmz) 173272373
- Traffic source(__utmz) 1298339911
- # of responses(__utmz) 2
- utmcsr google.com
- utmccn (organic)
- utmcmd organic
- utmcct [values from cookies]
Let’s take a closer look at the values specific to this request:
- utmdt – This is the page title, URL coded.
- utmr – This is the URL of the referring page (populated only by the landing page)
- utmp – This is the page request
And there is actually one more hidden in here:
utmt – this is the type of request being made. Normally this would designate an event, transaction, item or custom variable. However, in the case of a pageview this field just doesnt appear – pageview is the default type of gif request.
And there you have a pageview. Not as simple as it seems.