The New and Improved Unique Events

Newsletter sent 2016-11-01.

The New and Improved Unique Events

One of the many Misunderstood Metrics in Google Analytics has been Unique Events, caused mostly by the way in which the metric was calculated. It was not what you expected by the description. Well, Google finally got around to changing it, and the Analytics Edge connectors have been updated to let you use the new numbers, but expect a change in your reports!

Google’s approach to the change has a been a little odd, though — they deprecated (marked as ‘to be removed’) the old metric in the API, and in about 6 months they will replace it with the new metric…but still called Unique Events. They have made the new metric available with a temporary name in the meantime, but that just gets confusing – you would have to change your queries now, and then again when they drop the temporary metric and adopt the new one.

To simplify things, I have updated both Google Analytics connectors to let you pick between the new or old definition (see the Options tab). The connector will do the switch for you. If you edit the query (with no changes), you will get the new numbers automatically. If you don’t edit it, or if you select the ‘Old option, you will keep the old numbers. i.e. you need to want the new numbers.



Old/New…what is the difference?

Google has created a new help document to describe the difference between the metrics, and I will be updating my Misunderstood Metrics article for those looking for more details, but all you need to know is that they ‘fixed’ Unique Events so it more accurately reflects what the name implies — the number of sessions that contained a specific Event Category/Action/Label combination. The old number was…misleading, and they can be very, very different depending on the columns in your report.

For example, in the image below, there were 18,396 sessions containing at least one event with “TimeOnPage” category (the old metric), but there were 86,704 unique events (the new metric).


The difference is that “Unique Events” have unique combinations of Category, Action and Label, as seen in this image (the rows total to 86,704 as reported above).



Where did ‘(not set)’ come from?

Another change made by Google is that event dimensions now show “(not set)” if the value was empty. You probably didn’t realize those combinations never appeared in your reports before! Since they are included now, don’t be surprised if there are unexpected shifts from older reports. And don’t think something changed on your website— the ‘(not set)’ events were always there, they just didn’t appear in the reports.



The new Google Analytics connectors, both Free and Pro, are available now.