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Why are visits via Google Search app only visible for websites with traditional Analytics code?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

We recently discovered the appearence of a new referrer named "" in Google Analytics for some of our clients. According to this is the Google Search app for Android.

We also discovered that this behaviour started at the same date with the latest Update on Data anomalies in Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) shown on this page:

April the 27th is the exact date where we first encounter the above referrer.

Now comes the tricky part:

  • Only our clients who still use the traditional Google Analytics code can see the referrer
  • Clients who use the new code cannot see the referrer. Instead, they are marked as direct visits, we tested this via the Realtime Google Analytics Report and a Samsung S4 and Google Search App.

Now to my questions:

  • Why are visits via the Google Search App treated as directs instead of organic search for those who use the new code?
  • Why are only those who use the traditional code able to see the referrer?
  • How can we identify users coming from the Google Search App when they are treated as directs?

In our view the visits should ideally be treated as "Organic Search" with "Google Search App" as the source, regardless which analytics code is used.

I did a thorough search via google, on stackoverflow and in the google analytics forum. Some have encountered the above referrer but nobody seems to have the same problems as we do with the new code nor did they discover that it seems to be tied to the update shown in the Google Search Console or that the usage of the different analytic codes seems to have an impact on seeing the referrer in Google Analytics or not.

Definition traditional vs new Google Analytics Code

To be clear what I mean with traditional vs new Google Analytics code:

Traditional code used by some of our clients looks like this:

var _gaq = _gaq || [];_gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-XXXXXXXX-1']);_gaq.push(['_gat._anonymizeIp']);_gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);

(function () {
    var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true;    ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '';
    var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);

The new code - now default in Analytics - looks like this:

<!-- Google Analytics -->
(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m)
})(window,document,'script','','ga');ga('create', 'UA-XXXXX-Y', 'auto');ga('send', 'pageview');
<!-- End Google Analytics -->

Why are visits via Google Search app only visible for websites with traditional Analytics code?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 2
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

We are seeing the same issue but can't conclude it's being misattributed as Direct or just not being captured at all Smiley Sad