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Google Analytics Showing "Impossible" Landing Page Report

 10:19 am on Nov 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

I run an online news portal, similar to say NYtimes or WashingtonPost that has a number of sections - like Sports, News, Business,etc.

We periodically run a fullpage popover ad on the website homepage. This is an advertisement that will appear when someone enters the main domain name. The user may either click and open the ad in a new window or the page will redirect to the domain name after a 2-3 second period.

The popover ads are located at ads.example.com and so when I look into the Analytics data for the homepage, I naturally see a lot of ads.example on the referral list.

Now, what's interesting is that this referral also shows up on a number of sub-section pages. That is, on days when the popover ads are run, it is common to see the ads.example.com referral on my example.com/business, example.com/sports/joe-pa.html,etc.

How can this be possible? Has anyone experienced similar "impossible" scenarios with analytics?

(For what it's worth, all the sections are under the example.com domain and not separate subdomains - except for the ads.example.com bit)



 7:45 pm on Nov 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Traffic sources are stored on session level. Referral will override traffic source (none). When you take a deep-dive in pageview consumption per traffic source, it will show the same traffic source for all pageviews a user has viewed during a session.


 4:13 am on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks a lot gerronmulder. It all seems to fit in now. I just checked and see that the 'direct' visits have all troughed a bit on those particular days, which explains a bit.

However, one unsolved issue is that while these ads.example.com referrals show a massive peak during the days we run those popover ads, there seems to be a few hundred referrals from these pages even on other days. While we may attribute this to cache normally, in this particular instance, where the referrals show up more due to sessions rather than cache, I am not clear how this referral would continue to show up even after we have stopped displaying the full-page popover.


 2:50 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Direct visits with traffic source (none) do not override other traffic sources. Later visits will still be referral since for direct traffic since it is the latest known traffic source.


 6:37 am on Nov 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks a lot, gerronmulder.

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