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What is the difference between Average Visit Duration and Average Time on Page in Analytics?

Google Employee
# 1
Google Employee

This is a question we get all the time from users, particularly when there is a significant discrepancy between these two metrics. Stephen, an analytics specialist based in Dublin, is here to break down the difference between them.

 

4 Expert replyverified_user
Marked as Best Answer.
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Accepted by topic author Hannah
September 2015

Re: What is the difference between Average Visit Duration and Average

Google Employee
# 2
Google Employee

Hi community,

 

The first thing users should be clear on is that these metrics are measured differently. There is a common misconception that they are the same or similar which is why we tend to get a lot of questions when the numbers for each appear to be significantly different.

 

Avg. Time on Page is the average amount of time visitors spent viewing a specified page or set of pages.

Avg. Visit Duration is the average time duration of a session. A session is, a single visit by one person. The session or visit ends after a specified amount of time (default is 30 minutes) of in-activity, at the end of the day (midnight), or if a visitor arrives via one campaign, leaves, and then comes back via a different campaign.

 

Let’s break those descriptions down a little further:

 

Average Time on Page is calculated as the average difference between the request timestamp for that page, and the request timestamp for the next pageview that occurred within your site. If a single page is the only page viewed during a visit, that pageview does not figure into Average Time on Page, because there is no second timestamp to subtract from.

 

Similarly, Average Visit Duration is calculated based on the timestamp difference between the first and final pageviews that occurred during a visit. Since the duration of the final pageview cannot be calculated, the Average Visit Duration that reports in Google Analytics is always somewhat shorter than in actuality.

 

The difference, or discrepancy between the two metrics, tends to stem from the measurement of bounces: Avg. Visit Duration includes visits that include “bounce visits”, which record 0 time spent on site. So if you have a high bounce rate your average visit duration will be lower than in actuality.

Avg. Time on Page excludes Bounces: because GA needs two time stamps, the page itself, and the next pageview in the session to calculate a ‘Time on Page’ metric.

 

I hope this helps explain how we measure these metrics and why they report differently. Let us know if you have any questions about this and we’ll be happy to help.

 

Re: What is the difference between Average Visit Duration and Average

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Bilbo, thanks for that information! It is very helpful. I have a follow-up question regarding your point "If a single page is the only page viewed during a visit, that pageview does not figure into Average Time on Page, because there is no second timestamp to subtract from."

I am managing a microsite page that has a video automatically play when visited (and we're sending traffic through ads). The Avg Time Per Page in GA is around 2 minutes which would make me think that the visitors watch the entire video. We have a high bounce rate (90%) so people aren't going to another page for more information. Does this mean that the Avg Time Per Page of 2 minutes is a calculation of just the 10% of the people who didn't bounce? Or is that the average time for all of the unique pageviews?

Re: What is the difference between Average Visit Duration and Average

Community Manager
# 4
Community Manager
Hi Scott L,

If you have a figure for average time on page this will only be for those who did not bounce off the page view. There is no way for us to calculate the time spent on that page if they did not progress to another page after.

So to answer your question, eyes, the average time per page of 2 minutes is just for the 10% of people who did not bounce.

Re: What is the difference between Average Visit Duration and Average

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Scott I have the same problem than you. Based on that I think the best way to really know the average time people spent on the single page is looking the analytics session of your video inside Youtube (if you are hosting your video there).

Re: What is the difference between Average Visit Duration and Average

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 6
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Bilbo,

I am wondering what would cause the Avg Time on Page to be lower than the Avg Session Duration (I am assuming this is what you are referring to as "Average Visit Duration"). Since the bounces (0's) are excluded from Avg Time on Page how would this be lower?

Thanks!
Sam G.

Re: What is the difference between Average Visit Duration and Average Time on Page in Analytics?

Community Manager
# 7
Community Manager
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