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Sessions < Unique IP Addresses

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi, I'm trying to make sense of a discrepancy between Google Analytics reports and my web server logs for a recent campaign, where there are more unique IPs than sessions.  As one example, on a particular date last month, on Campaigns > (specific campaign) > (specific source/medium), GA reports 104 sessions.  My server logs for that date, filtered for the incoming link to that landing page with the campaign URL, show 351 HTTP requests.  (This is for the page only; excluding images/js/css/etc. on the page.)  Certainly that should be the case if a single user visited the page multiple times.  But filtering the server log further shows 325 unique IPs.

 

Assuming that my data is correct, any advice on what circumstances there can be more unique IPs than sessions?  (Let alone 3x.)  I have the "User-ID" feature disabled, so there shouldn't even be any correlation between multiple devices.  Thanks for any suggestions.

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Marked as Best Answer.
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Accepted by topic author Maccabee L
March 2016

Re: Sessions < Unique IP Addresses

Top Contributor
# 8
Top Contributor

Adding some extra info before meandering off :-)
Ideally the tracking code should be before the closing </head> tag.

If you place it at the bottom of the page, afaik it loses its asynchronous ability

It should not slow down/prevent the rendering of the page while it loads if placed before the closing </head> tag.

 

If a user navigates to a new page before the script has time to load in the page, then its likely the pageview wont be tracked.
If the user presses the browser stop button it can prevent the code loading, Same applies to the browser back button.
Errors in other script or code on the page can cause the tracking not to work


There is an article here that may be useful, by one of the GA Certified Partner Co's - Analytics Pros

When the numbers don’t add up: tips for reconciling different analytics tools

Bronwyn Vourtis, Google Analytics Top Contributor
Was my response helpful? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer.’ Learn how here

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Re: Sessions < Unique IP Addresses

Rising Star
# 2
Rising Star
There are a number of reasons why GA would not or could not track a session here are a few:
1. The computer that the individual is using may have third party scripts set to disabled.
2. GA is JAVA based if the browser has JAVA turned off or does not support JAVA no data is captured.
3. The user has their browser configured to not accept cookies.
4. The users may be behind a firewall that filters out items or their virus software may filter out items or code.
5. The user could be surfing "In Private" mode.

Your server logs are much more likely to be accurate if they were properly filtered.

Re: Sessions < Unique IP Addresses

Top Contributor
# 3
Top Contributor

Hi :-)
To help avoid confusion.. GA tracking does not require JAVA, it requires a browser to have Javascript enabled.
It does differentiates visits from browsers with and without Java enabled.
in the Audience > Technology > Browser & OS

if you change the Primary Dimension via the drop down from Other to Java Support

 

Java vs. JavaScript&colon; Similarities and Differences

Bronwyn Vourtis, Google Analytics Top Contributor
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Re: Sessions < Unique IP Addresses

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 4
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Thank you Brian and Bronwyn. I agree that Java (plug-in, quick start, whatever) is not an issue here since GA doesn't require it.  To Brian's other points:

1. The computer that the individual is using may have third party scripts set to disabled.

3. The user has their browser configured to not accept cookies.

Very true, but I'd be surprised to learn that over 2/3 of our users disable javascript or first-party cookies!

 

4. The users may be behind a firewall that filters out items or their virus software may filter out items or code.

This is new to me, I haven't heard of firewalls or virus software removing GA tracking unless perhaps a specially designed corporate firewall.  Any background on this?  But in any case the audience of this campaign is very unlikely to be behind a corporate firewall.


5. The user could be surfing "In Private" mode.

I don't believe this would have any effect.  At least Chrome says its Incognito Mode uses cookies as usual, it just deletes them after the browser is closed.  This post seems to agree GA would simply track it as a new session.  So if anything that would inflate the session count.

 

My best guess at this point is ad that it's a lot of people with ad blockers that disable GA tracking.  Seems unlikely given trends but maybe iOS's recent Safari change is causing some of this.

 

Any other ideas?

Re: Sessions < Unique IP Addresses

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Thank you Brian, please see my reply to you and Bronwyn below.

Re: Sessions < Unique IP Addresses

Rising Star
# 6
Rising Star
I agree that these are most likely not your cause, but I also think your log files for the server are more accurate. I am on a military network and our IPs are dynamic everytime we access external data we go through a proxy server and a load balancer which is set up for round robin on IPs.

Re: Sessions < Unique IP Addresses

Rising Star
# 7
Rising Star
This is intriguing, so I have been doing some testing and reading of log files, I went and looked at three areas. First I looked at GA, then I looked at LOG files, then last I looked at our application Metrics. I found that none of them matched up. LOG files showed the greatest number of hits to a page, the application metrics showed the next highest number of hits, and GA showed the least. So I ran a couple of scenarios while even this does not explain the vast differences I did notice that if the page does not fully load GA never gets a count. My LOG file does and I suspect that is because the http-header has already been processed by IIS long before it actual goes to load the page (in computer time a long time anyway), the application metrics sometimes increment sometimes they do not I again suspect that once it makes the initial call to the DB the first order of business is to set the page hit, but GA did not seem to count any attempts that I was successful at interrupting the page load. I am again making an assumption that the page DOMs don't kick off GA until the page has finished loading. All of this is a guess as I don't really have the time to fully trace and track all the possible scenarios, but I found it interesting. I still don't have an answer, but I did verify that while in Private GA did track me successfully throughout the system. If I turned off first party cookies GA never saw me at all. Same with active scripting if I disabled it GA never saw me. In all cases In Private, First Party turned off, and active scripting disabled both my application and my logs saw me. PS I looked at real time when I did these tests as it was easier, not the most scientific but these are my findings. For what it is worthSmiley Happy
Marked as Best Answer.
Solution
Accepted by topic author Maccabee L
March 2016

Re: Sessions < Unique IP Addresses

Top Contributor
# 8
Top Contributor

Adding some extra info before meandering off :-)
Ideally the tracking code should be before the closing </head> tag.

If you place it at the bottom of the page, afaik it loses its asynchronous ability

It should not slow down/prevent the rendering of the page while it loads if placed before the closing </head> tag.

 

If a user navigates to a new page before the script has time to load in the page, then its likely the pageview wont be tracked.
If the user presses the browser stop button it can prevent the code loading, Same applies to the browser back button.
Errors in other script or code on the page can cause the tracking not to work


There is an article here that may be useful, by one of the GA Certified Partner Co's - Analytics Pros

When the numbers don’t add up: tips for reconciling different analytics tools

Bronwyn Vourtis, Google Analytics Top Contributor
Was my response helpful? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer.’ Learn how here

Re: Sessions < Unique IP Addresses

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 9
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Thanks Brian for that research, your findings are definitely in line with what I see. Bronwyn, thanks for the article link, the point there about bots is another good one. There are enough possibilities here that I'm going to accept the apples-to-oranges situation and take the numbers as they are.