Google Analytics vs. gemiusAudience
Many website owners wonder what the difference between the two is. They are even more puzzled whenever it turns out that there is a disparity between Google Analytics data and monthly results of gemiusAudience.
So how are these two business knowledge sources different? Let’s begin by explaining that Google Analytics and gemiusAudience are two worlds, quite unlike each other. The Google’s tool allows publishers to monitor traffic on their websites: the analysis it provides covers one or more sites owned by one entity. This is how they may obtain full knowledge on the user’s interaction with products in question. What the publishers don’t get is the possibility to check their situation against competition. And this is where gemiusAudience comes to stage.
It’s all about the point of reference
Publishers very often refer to Google Analytics data to attest their online market position. Whenever their goal is to show a website’s growth dynamics based on historical data, this choice makes perfect sense. However, if a publisher wishes to check and prove their standing by comparing their performance with that of competitors’, they should opt for different solutions. Google Analytics data don’t illustrate the whole website market situation, but rather describe the standing of a chosen website. Hence the fundamental difference lies in the point of reference. The Redmond-originating tool is focused on the historical context of the analysed site. gemiusAudience is not only about archived data, but first and foremost, it takes into consideration the entire online market and its segments (e.g. automotive or sports profile).
Unique users are not actual internet users
Another important issue is the manner in which the data flowing from both these tools are interpreted. Many online publishers who corroborate their market position refer to the notion of unique users. In this model, a user is in fact a cookie, i.e. a small file downloaded onto a computer by a website. For that reason, some even prefer the term ‘unique cookies’ rather than ‘unique users’.
Hence, from the technical point of view, what is counted are not internet users, but cookie files. This is why to put forward Google Analytics data while presenting the number of factual users visiting a website is a flawed method. Several more factors should be taken into account. First, cookies get deleted by a good share of users. Second, one user may go online on a number of browsers and also different devices. Third, one device is normally used by more than one individual.
Cookies outnumber real users
As a result, the amount of unique users, aka unique cookies, will always be higher than the number of persons who actually paid a visit to the analysed website. (For example in case when user delates cookies and he uses one browser, in monthly calculation we will have 30 unique users). The problem is catered for by gemiusAudience. Although its method of counting the actual users is also based on the cookie files, it includes a number of solutions enabling accurate calculation of how many real users visited a website. The measurement takes into account such phenomena as cross-screen engagement, or shared use of a device. The results it brings are resistant to distortions stemming from cookie deletion or multiple browser usage, which may significantly puff up statistics based solely on unique users.
It’s like the difference between a dashboard and traffic radar
Summing up, it’s impossible to compare the number of unique users defined with the Google Analitycs with the number of real uses obtained by gemiusAudience. The two tools were designed with different goals in mind and are based on distinct methodology of website traffic measurement. This is best illustrated in the metaphor that compares Google Analytics to a dashboard, which allows a driver to control all significant parameters, asses the vehicle’s technical condition and – In case it deteriorates – consult a mechanic. gemiusAudience, on the other hand, is like a radar, acting as traffic control. It checks the parameters of one vehicle against the other cars on the road, also taking into account groups they may form.
Do these sources both deliver important business knowledge, yet from completely different perspectives?