Friday, January 12, 2018

Session Duration & Time on page

What’s going on here?
In the digital world, you constantly hear people talking about bounce rates, and how advertisers strive for a low percentage. Metrics such as session duration and time on page can provide additional insight on bounce rate, and act as an indicator for your campaign’s performance. As important as the bounce rate is, it cannot tell the full story of your media buys.

Depending on the platform you are using (Google or Facebook), and the device your audience is seeing the ad on (mobile or desktop), one metric will offer slightly different insights than the other. Each metric has its benefit depending on how one is looking at the data. One metric is better when viewing data based on device category(desktop/mobile/tablet) and the other is better for comparing different traffic sources. Therefore, it is important to look at both, session duration and time on page.

What does it mean?
First, let's understand what bounce rate is. Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page. Meaning if you have 5,000 monthly visits to your website and 2,500 of those visits leave after only visiting one page, you have a 50% bounce rate. Now you might be thinking, is that too high or too low? Good or bad? In order to answer those questions you need to consider other factors such as session duration and time on page.

Time on page is the average amount of time a user spends on that one single page.
Session duration is how long a user spent on your entire site in total [1].

If your audience is viewing ads via Facebook or Instagram, it’s important to look at time on page. Mobile device users want to consume the information they are looking for on one single page. They do not want to click on multiple pages to find their answer or else they tend to bounce out; because of this, mobile users are often counted as a high percentage bounce due to only hitting one page.. In reality, they have already consumed all the information they need.

Why should I care?
Whether you are the client or a digital marketer, it is important to understand the nuance of each metric and the story they tell. Understanding what each metric means will help narrate the performance of the campaign and will allow you to gather valuable insights to keep your customers coming back.

Below is an example of a Google Analytics report. We compared our Facebook buy to a Google search buy.

At first glance, we see there is an 86% bounce rate compared to a 48% rate. However, if you look at the time on page, Facebook is almost double the duration of Google. This is important because people are spending time and taking actions on the page despite the low session duration, whereas on Google people tend to spend more time on the website overall, rather than on individual pages.. Broken down even further, you can see that your average cost per retained visitor is cheaper for Facebook. This is a prime example of how a bounce rate can be high, but still indicate a successful media buy!

[1] Definition from