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How can a page have multiple pageviews but zero unique pageviews

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

I have an application that uses Virtual Pageviews to track user flow through each screen.  When analyzing the pageviews with a secondary dimensions added we noticed instances were there are multiple pageviews but zero unique pageviews.  Any ideas on what's causing this or how to fix it?

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Marked as Best Answer.
Solution
Accepted by topic author Trisha K
January 2016

Re: How can a page have multiple pageviews but zero unique pageviews

Explorer ✭ ☆ ☆
# 3
Explorer ✭ ☆ ☆
It has to do with the way GA functions. We tend to assume that it's calculating results when queried, but it's not. It's assigning numerical values to hits that fit specific criteria. In your instance, the primary issue is the scope of the metric. A pageview is a hit-level metric and a unique pageview (upv) is a session-level metric. So when a page loads, GA decides the value of these metrics based on the definition of the metric.

Assume you have pages A,B,C and and session contains the following pages in this order:
A->C->A->C->B->A
Every one of these pages will have a pageview value of 1, but only the first instance of a page will have unique page view value of 1 while all subsequent hits will be 0. These values are actually 'attached' to the hit so when you run reports, such as yours, where the specific hit resides with respect to the secondary dimension plays a big role in what you will get when you combine a hit level dimension and session level metrics. Using the example above, your unique page views reside in specific parts of the flow as follows:
1->1->0->0->1->0

This is an important concept to understand, because there are several metrics that operate in this way. Sessions is a good example. Sessions, as you'd guess, is a session level metric. The first hit of each session gets session value of 1 and the rest get 0. So if you were to build a report with the user and session metrics, but then filter out pages, you'd almost certainly end up with curious instances of more users than sessions.

I hope that's not too confusing, but it's something you get acquainted with or everything you do will simply be wrong.

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Re: How can a page have multiple pageviews but zero unique pageviews

Follower ✭ ✭ ☆
# 2
Follower ✭ ✭ ☆
Hi Trisha

That sounds like quite a puzzle. There might be a couple of reasons this might happen - you might be getting sampled due to the secondary dimension with a date range > week, reducing the date might help. Another reason it might happen is due to data being censored due to privacy concerns when the secondary dimension is a demographic.
Marked as Best Answer.
Solution
Accepted by topic author Trisha K
January 2016

Re: How can a page have multiple pageviews but zero unique pageviews

Explorer ✭ ☆ ☆
# 3
Explorer ✭ ☆ ☆
It has to do with the way GA functions. We tend to assume that it's calculating results when queried, but it's not. It's assigning numerical values to hits that fit specific criteria. In your instance, the primary issue is the scope of the metric. A pageview is a hit-level metric and a unique pageview (upv) is a session-level metric. So when a page loads, GA decides the value of these metrics based on the definition of the metric.

Assume you have pages A,B,C and and session contains the following pages in this order:
A->C->A->C->B->A
Every one of these pages will have a pageview value of 1, but only the first instance of a page will have unique page view value of 1 while all subsequent hits will be 0. These values are actually 'attached' to the hit so when you run reports, such as yours, where the specific hit resides with respect to the secondary dimension plays a big role in what you will get when you combine a hit level dimension and session level metrics. Using the example above, your unique page views reside in specific parts of the flow as follows:
1->1->0->0->1->0

This is an important concept to understand, because there are several metrics that operate in this way. Sessions is a good example. Sessions, as you'd guess, is a session level metric. The first hit of each session gets session value of 1 and the rest get 0. So if you were to build a report with the user and session metrics, but then filter out pages, you'd almost certainly end up with curious instances of more users than sessions.

I hope that's not too confusing, but it's something you get acquainted with or everything you do will simply be wrong.

Re: How can a page have multiple pageviews but zero unique pageviews

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 4
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Makes sense & very helpful. The secondary dimension I was using is hit based as well which is why its showing data for pageviews but not unique pageviews. Thank you!