Not all analytics platforms work the same. Even small differences could lead to big differences when comparing data. We understand that this can be confusing.

In this article we will try to take away the confusion by highlighting a few of the known differences between Foleon Analytics and Google Analytics.

In this article:

  • How both analytics systems measure time
  • Calculating session duration
  • The impact of overlays on time on page
  • Slight differences in calculating avg. time on page

How both analytics systems measure time

Foleon Analytics and Google Analytics both measure time based on timestamps of page views.

Here’s an example of me visiting a publication.

I saw 3 pages and based on the timestamp of the page views you can see that I at least spend 10 minutes in the publication.

Since I exited on page 3, there is no way of telling how much time I spend on page 3.

Calculating session duration

A session starts whenever a reader visits the first page. Google Analytics and Foleon Analytics will identify the session by using a session ID. Every fired page view has a session ID, so this is how GA and Foleon know how to calculate the session duration.

According to GA, a session is killed and a new session (with a new session ID) is started in Google Analytics:

  • After 30 minutes of inactivity (no new page views)
  • At midnight. Starting the session at 23:55 and ending 12:05. This session will be split in two.
  • Campaign change: If a user arrives via one campaign, leaves, and then comes back via a different campaign.

Foleon analytics also kills a session whenever

  • After 30 minutes of inactivity (no new page views)

The impact of overlays on time on page

You just saw how pageviews help measure the time spent. There is a big difference in the way Google Analytics sees an overlay and how Foleon sees an overlay.

Foleon Analytics attributes the time spent on an overlay to the parent page (the underlying page).

For Google Analytics, an overlay is a page of it’s own and therefore it will attribute the time spent on an overlay to the overlay itself.

This has a big impact on the avg. time spent on a page. Let’s take the previous example and add an overlay page view to it.

For Foleon the average time on page report will look like this:

For Google Analytics the average time on page report will look like this:

The total time spent (the session duration) will stay the same for both GA and Foleon, 10 minutes. But the avg. time on page for page 2 will differ quite a lot. Since Google Analytics sees overlays as it’s own page and Foleon sees it as part of page 2.

Slight differences in calculating avg. time on page

So here it gets tricky. We already know that both GA and Foleon Analytics use timestamps of page views to calculate the time spent on a page.

However, there are some slight differences when we are aggregating all that data and turn it into the avg. time spend metric for a page. The key difference here is how we handle page views where we don’t know the time spent.

Let’s use the first example (without the overlay visit) and add another session.

So we have the first session, which is as follows:

Session 2 will be a lot shorter since we will leave on the first page and thus ‘bounce’:

We now have a second session with only one page view and we don’t know how much time the user has spent.

Foleon Analytics will calculate the avg. time spent for page 1 as follows:

Total time on page (in seconds) / the total number of page views

300 seconds (5min) / 2 page views = 150 seconds (2.5 minutes)

Google Analytics does it differently. The average time on page is calculated as:

The total of time on page (in seconds) / ( the total number of pageviews - the total number of exits )

300 seconds (5min) / (2 - 1 page views) = 300 seconds (5 minutes)

Example:

I visited a publication twice.

Session 1, I visited 3 pages each for 10 seconds → Session duration = 20 seconds

Session 2, I visited only the first page for 5 seconds → Session duration = 0 seconds

Session duration

Foleon

Google Analytics

The session duration and other basic metrics are similar for both platforms. In both platforms they are calculated by adding the total time spent and divide it by the number of sessions (whether it was a bounced session or not).

Avg. time on page

The average time spent for each page is slightly different between Foleon Analytics and Google Analytics. You can see Google Analytics has two page views for the first page of the publication. One is ~11 seconds and the second one is 0 seconds (bounced).

Foleon

In Foleon Reporting you can see that it did not ignore the bounced page view and divided ~11 seconds by 2 page views.

Google Analytics

The average time on page in GA is still ~11 because it ignores the page views that were a bounce.

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