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What is the Different Between a Click and a Session?

The Difference Between a Click and a Session

When running any advertising campaign there are KPIs that help marketers understand and measure the effectiveness of how that particular campaign performed. Some forms of advertising provide more data than others. For instance, a programmatic display campaign will give much more information on how users engaged with the campaign versus a billboard campaign. This doesn’t mean one campaign is better than the other, it just means as marketers we have more data to work with certain campaigns. A common mix up and not understanding the difference between a Click and a Session. 


Google Analytics is the best tool to use when tracking your business’ website traffic. Marketers are able to better understand where website visitors are coming from, some demographic information about their users, how they interact with their website, and so much more. 

Being able to track how users end up on a website can be very valuable when tracking performance of advertising campaigns. Marketers can use UTM Codes when running digital marketing campaigns to better track where website traffic is coming from. UTM Codes allow marketers to clearly differentiate website traffic based on different referral sources. 

What is a Click?

With forms of advertising like online display ads, online video ads, paid search advertising users are able to click on the ad and be redirected to that business’ website. 

What is a Session?

When looking at Google Analytics, a very important metric to observe is the number of sessions your website receives. According to Google Analytics, a session is a group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame. A session can be made up of page views, events, form fills, transactions as well as other types of page interactions. The session will start when someone arrives on the site and can end after 3 different instances: 30 minutes of inactivity, at midnight, or when the user enters a different campaign.

Why Clicks and Sessions May Not Always Be the Same?

Many marketers can be confused when they run an advertising campaign with a UTM Code and receive a report that provides a certain number of clicks that campaign received, but when they compare the number of clicks to the sessions based on that campaign’s UTM Code it is less. No your vendor is not lying about the number of clicks, there is an important distinction between Clicks and Sessions

If a user were to click on the ad, but immediately exit out of the browser or hit the “back” button before the page loads this would count as a Click from the ad campaign, but there was no Session recorded. 

Another instance would be if a user were to click on a paid search ad, land on the website but the page does not load correctly due to an internet connection issue or any other reason. Again, this would be registered as a Click from the ad campaign, but no Session would be recorded in Google Analytics. 

With tools like Google Analytics, marketers have the ability to really analyze fantastic data driven from advertising campaigns. It is very important to fully understand the metrics before making assumptions about certain campaigns. Clicks versus Sessions are frequently confused, so always stay educated when monitoring. 

Google offers online training in their Skill Shop where marketers can become certified on items like Google Analytics. We encourage all marketers to become accustomed to Google Analytics to monitor website traffic and performance! 

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About Author

Zack Meuschke

Mr. Meuschke started his career in digital advertising and has not looked back. Directly out of college he started with a print publication working on their digital team. After a few years moved to the world of video at Comcast Spotlight working on how consumers are transitioning from traditional TV viewership to streaming TV on multiple devices and how that impacted advertising. Finally starting Corkboard Concepts where we focus on data-driven marketing campaigns. He uses his experience to integrate digital marketing into the diverse advertising strategies we build for our clients.