This FAQ covers why you might see some exceptionally long session times in your analytics.
If you have questions about how this relates to data in your MAP, see this FAQ.
Why do some visitors have really long session times?
Long engagement times should be a good thing – your visitors are engaged, leads are bingeing on your content; however, in some cases, lengthy engagement could be generated by non-human bots on the web, or browser anomalies.
Browser timestamp errors
Information from the visitor browser, in particular client_timestamp, is used to track the session. In certain events, the browser may produce errors when the page loads, which results in a client_timestamp value that is far back in time from the actual time of the session. This results in a session length that is significantly longer than the actual session.
Bots and ‘headless’ browser sessions
These are sessions performed by automated scripts or bots. Bots run on the web for reasons ranging from automated testing, to information security and diagnostics, to search engine indexing and optimization.
During these non-human sessions, browsers are, in some cases, unable to accurately detect certain visitor behavior, which consequently decreases PathFactory’s ability to detect inactivity or end the session. A session can thus appear to be active for an extended time period, which results in visitors with exorbitantly high session lengths.
How to tell if it’s bot traffic
- Engagement times that are excessively high.
- Large volume of traffic from a company/account that could be masking as a network/internet service provider, eg Microsoft.
How much does this matter and how do I fix this?
Bot traffic is an issue in market-leading analytics tools (such as Google Analytics) most of which implement algorithms to detect and exclude bot traffic. PathFactory uses similar logic to detect and exclude visits from known bots and spiders on the web. However, this is not foolproof, as bots proliferate in ways that make them more elusive and hard to detect in some cases.
PathFactory will continue to update our session processing, to mitigate inflated traffic from bots and browser anomalies.