# Google, why do you make my brain hurt?

April 25, 2012 6:20 PM Subscribe

How does real time google analytics measure the "active visitors on site"? Please help me, because apparently I fail at math.

I love google analytics, and the real-time data thing they have going on now. However, it doesn't give me any historical data on it's main real-time calculation -- "active visitors on site". I'm trying to figure out how to calculate it using the data is does give me.

However, I can't figure out how they come up with their numbers. For example, during a previous time period google was telling me I had around 2500 active users on my site. Yay me.

But matter how I look at it, I can't make the other stats re-create this number for me. For example. For that same time period, over that hour I had about 25,000 visits, 50,000 page views, and an average time on site of just over 1 minute.

So by my calculation, that means I have around (25000/60 = 416) visitors per minute, and since they all stick around for about a minute, this means on average I should have about 416 people online at any one time then? 416 is a lot different that 2500!

I don't need things to match up exactly as I realize the fact that the smallest chunk of time google analytics will give me is numbers over an hour, but I really would like to get into the right ballbark. 400 is not the same ballpark as 2500.

Am I doing something wrong, or is this yet another super secret google formula they are using? Is there some basic understanding of how these numbers work that I'm missing? I really hope I'm the one thats screwing up here, because then maye I can fix it and figure out how many people were online at any one time yesterday!

I love google analytics, and the real-time data thing they have going on now. However, it doesn't give me any historical data on it's main real-time calculation -- "active visitors on site". I'm trying to figure out how to calculate it using the data is does give me.

However, I can't figure out how they come up with their numbers. For example, during a previous time period google was telling me I had around 2500 active users on my site. Yay me.

But matter how I look at it, I can't make the other stats re-create this number for me. For example. For that same time period, over that hour I had about 25,000 visits, 50,000 page views, and an average time on site of just over 1 minute.

So by my calculation, that means I have around (25000/60 = 416) visitors per minute, and since they all stick around for about a minute, this means on average I should have about 416 people online at any one time then? 416 is a lot different that 2500!

I don't need things to match up exactly as I realize the fact that the smallest chunk of time google analytics will give me is numbers over an hour, but I really would like to get into the right ballbark. 400 is not the same ballpark as 2500.

Am I doing something wrong, or is this yet another super secret google formula they are using? Is there some basic understanding of how these numbers work that I'm missing? I really hope I'm the one thats screwing up here, because then maye I can fix it and figure out how many people were online at any one time yesterday!

The post on the Google Analytics blog entitled

Either way there's a helluva lot of good info on that blog.

posted by ob1quixote at 8:41 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Whatâ€™s happening on your site right now?implies that you should be able to get historical statistics via one of the built-in reports. However, it's possible that the number shown on the dashboard is Just Plain Wrong™.

Either way there's a helluva lot of good info on that blog.

posted by ob1quixote at 8:41 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

This thread is closed to new comments.

posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:35 PM on April 25, 2012