By Joe Whitehead

If you’ve logged into your GA 360 account this morning and noticed that something seemed a little bit different, you may be part of the ‘Users Everywhere’ rollout.

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How do I know if I’m part of the rollout?

The quickest way is to check your Audience > Overview report. Are you seeing Users everywhere? Specifically, are you seeing Users in the following places:

GA360 Users Everywhere

If so, welcome to the rollout!

Exciting! So what’s changing?

The Users metric is being rolled out as the primary metric across Google Analytics, replacing Sessions. The following will be altered as part of the initial Users Everywhere rollout:

  • Audience reports
  • Acquisition reports
  • Update percentage count in segmentation to Users
  • Update default graphs to show User metrics

Can’t I report on Users already?

Yes, Google Analytics already supports the user metric across a number of standard and custom reports. However, you previously had to change the primary dimension in reports from Sessions to Users to surface this.

So what’s happening to the Sessions metric?

Sessions will still be an available metric within the interface. Exciting as the User metric changes are, session level analysis is one of the most powerful features of Google Analytics and isn’t going anywhere. Sessions is just stepping down from being the primary metric and letting Users take the spotlight.

Additionally, Users doesn’t make sense as the primary metric for every report. Reports that are fundamentally session based (e.g. in the Audience > Behaviour section) will keep Sessions as the primary metric. We get the best of both worlds.

What other reports will keep Session as the primary metric?

Glad you asked. In addition to the Audience > Behaviour reports mentioned above, the following reports will keep Sessions as the primary metric during this initial rollout:

  • Reports in the Conversion section of reporting
  • Multi-Channel funnel reports
  • Flow Reporting, Benchmarking and Social Reports
  • Reports in the Behaviour section of reporting

If Users was always available and Sessions is still available, what’s all the fuss about? Is this just a cosmetic change to the reports?

Not quite. In addition to updating the reporting interface Google Analytics is actually updating the way the Users metric is calculated. They’ll be using the probabilistic counting algorithm HyperLogLog++ (HLL++), Google’s version of HyperLogLog.

Wait, what? Are they even words?

Kind of. To calculate the user metric, Google must cross reference session information for the Client ID that represents a User. As you can imagine, this is a huge task from a computational perspective. The method used historically (Linear Counting) isn’t a scalable counting solution to large datasets, while the new HLL++ algorithm provides a rapid estimation of the count of unique users in large data sets with high accuracy. This reduces the computational burden on the process and provide accurate estimates no matter how big the data.

So, will my Users metric change dramatically overnight?

No, despite the change to HLL++ counting, early testing has shown differences to be rare and minimal.

Will the Users metric always be calculated using the HLL++ calculation?

Mostly, although there are a few exceptions. The ‘New Users’ metrics will keep the historical calculation. And the Cross-Device reports within User ID views will keep the historical calculation.

What about BigQuery data?

The Users metric isn’t even exported to BigQuery, so no changes here. Feel free to keep BigQueryin’ away!

This is all very exciting going forward, but what about all the data I’ve already collected?

The updated calculation will apply to all data, including historical data. GA Standard properties have aggregated Users metric data since September 1, 2016 and GA 360 property have aggregated data since May 1, 2016.

Perfect, I can’t wait to report on Users!

That’s the spirit, Users everywhere! Behind every shred of GA data we collect is a User, they are the centre of your digital strategy and now rightfully sit at the heart of your GA reporting.

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