Why the number of sessions collected differs when using the OWOX BI algorithm

When using the OWOX BI session data collection algorithm, you may notice a larger number of sessions as compared to the Google Analytics statistics. There can also be differences in how particular sessions are defined.

Why are there more sessions in OWOX BI tables than in Google Analytics?

No filters

One of the main advantages of the OWOX BI session data collection algorithm is that it allows you to collect the most complete data from your website. OWOX BI doesn't filter the incoming data so that you can always have a full view of all your hits. If you don't want to see certain values in your particular report, you can filter them out when processing the data.

Hits that weren't collected by Google Analytics

Due to technical reasons, such as delays in sending hits from the website, OWOX BI Pipeline hit data tables can have more hits than Google Analytics. If these extra hits start a new session, this will result in an additional number of sessions in the OWOX BI session data tables.

Different timeout periods

A session timeout is a period of inactivity after which the current session ends and a new session begins. By default, the timeout period is set to 30 minutes in both Google Analytics and OWOX BI. If session timeout periods are set to different amounts of time in OWOX BI and Google Analytics, the number of sessions will differ between the two services.

Tracking via Measurement Protocol

In Google Analytics, the maximum possible value of the &qt parameter sent via Measurement Protocol is 4 hours. If the value is greater than 4 hours, the hit will disappear and won't get to any session. If the &qt parameter is sent with the empty value, a new separate session will automatically be created for this hit. Either way, this will affect the data accuracy in Google Analytics.

When collecting session data with the OWOX BI algorithm, the hits sent via Measurement Protocol with the value of the &qt parameter up to 30 days will retrospectively get to the session data table (bi_sessions) for the corresponding date and will be assigned to the correct session. A new session will not be created for them. As the result, the number of sessions collected with the Google Analytics algorithm may be greater.

Also, when collecting session data with the OWOX BI algorithm, sending the &qt parameter with the value of more than 4 hours will cause the hit to not get to Google Analytics. As the result, OWOX BI will get more data than Google Analytics.

Regional restrictions

Google, restricts access to some of its services including Google Cloud Platform in certain countries and regions, such as Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.

For example, hits with "geoNetwork.region = 'Crimea'" can't be collected to Google BigQuery with OWOX BI. However, Google Analytics does collect such hits. As a result, data collected via GA and OWOX BI can differ considering these restrictions.

Why session start and end time can differ?

OWOX BI sorts hits by two-time values:

  • Server time (the time when the hit was collected at the OWOX BI access point) — the time field in OWOX BI tables.
  • Client time (the time when the hit was sent is defined by the time settings on the user's device and may differ from the actual time) — the timestamp in the Session ID parameter.

The sorting is performed twice - first by the server time, and then, each minute, by client time, in order to take account of the possible delays in sending hits. Double sorting provides for higher accuracy than sorting only by the time the hit was received by the server.

Why may campaign names and keywords for Google Ads-generated visits differ between Google Ads and Google Analytics?

When sessions are collected based on Google Analytics data, the traffic source data is obtained via the GA Core API. With the OWOX BI algorithm, sessions are computed considering the raw data collected in Google BigQuery via the Google Ads API.

The data about the same visit may differ between Google Ads and Google Analytics. Independence from Google Analytics makes it possible to avoid data sampling and get the complete data about traffic sources for the Ads campaigns with auto-tagging. OWOX BI session data tables always provide relevant data, since Google Ads reports are a primary data source for OWOX BI Pipeline.

We always strive to provide you with the data you can rely on. If you still have any questions or concerns regarding data discrepancies, please feel free to contact us at bi@owox.com — we'll look into it.

We'll be able to investigate discrepancies in your data much quicker if you make sure you've provided our support account, bi.support@owox.com, with the following permissions before sending the letter:

Google Analytics property: the Read & Analyze permission

Google BigQuery: user or jobUser role

Google Tag Manager: the User permission

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