Sessions and Browsing Time

Vantage Ultimate enables you to calculate sessions on any summary. This allows you to view a user's Total browsing time or Average browsing time.

Browsing Time is calculated by looking at the date/time stamp of each hit in a log file, and then grouping the hits into 'sessions'. Whether a hit falls into a particular session or not is based on a special 'threshold time'. The default session threshold time in Vantage Ultimate is 5 minutes, but you can change this in Tools | Options | General.

If two hits are written to the log file within five minutes (or the specified session threshold time) of each other, they are grouped into the same session. If another hit is made within five minutes of the second hit, this too is added to the same session. If there is a break of more than five minutes (or the specified threshold time) with no hits made, then the previous session is 'closed off'.

A new session is started when the next hit is made.

The total time of one session is calculated as the time between the first and last hits of the session. You can add an aggregate column in an Analysis Template to display the Sum, Average, Minimum or Maximum session times for any summary item (such as users, departments or user agents).

To add a browsing time column to an Analysis Template node:

  1. Create an Analysis Template (see Creating an Analysis Template)
  2. Add a new node to the analysis template by clicking the New Node link in the Template Nodes task pad.
  3. Select the summary you want to display browsing time for, such as 'Users' from the Summary drop down list.
  4. Click the Advanced button. This launches the Advanced Template Node dialog.
  5. On the General page click Add| Aggregate | Browsing Time | Total Browsing Time on the toolbar of the 'Columns' list.
  6. If the summary you selected in step 3 is different to the summary that sessions should be calculated for, double-click the Total Browsing Time aggregate to display the aggregate options dialog, then check the 'For' checkbox and select the summary that session should be calculated for, along with any aliases and click OK.

For example: If you selected Departments in step 3 (Users aliased by Departments), most departments are likely to have one long session as at least one person in the department will be browsing at any given time. You may want browsing time to be calculated as the sum of each individual User's browsing sessions within each department. You would therefore select the Users summary here on the Aggregate dialog.

The new browsing time column appears in the 'Column' list. You can use this column on the other pages of the Analysis Template dialog for charting, sorting and filtering.

User browsing example: If a user browses to a website and then walks away from their computer for an hour, no time will be added to that user's browsing time while they are away from their PC. Only the initial 2 seconds to open the website and download the resources will be added to their browsing time. Note: Time may be added to their Browsing Time if the website they have opened has self-refreshing banner ads or tickers.

Browsing Time should not be confused with Download Time. Download Time is the time taken to download a resource from the web site. Total Download time is the sum of the Download Times for all the resources downloaded by a user or from a site.