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.
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.