The Direct Session dimension

Direct Session dimension

The way Google Analytics consider a direct session is different from all other sources.
In case a user comes from an organic search, this session will be colored as Organic.
The next day he comes from a Facebook share, this session will be colored as Social.
The next day he reaches us directly (clicks our website explicitly / has in his bookmark), this session will be colored as – Social.

Why? because Direct session doesn’t change the traffic source, the last traffic source will remain the user’s traffic source.
This will last for 6 months by default (you can obviously change this)
Direct Session dimension sessions settigs - campaign timeout

This article is mainly focused on web traffic tracking, for mobile tracking please read the What is the traffic source for all of your app installations? article.

So, how can we indicate that the last session is a direct session and not Social?
And even further than that, what about situations that you exclude a specific referral? The most common example is excluding PayPal on an e-commerce site.
Direct Session dimension exclude referrals
From now and on new sessions that return from PayPal won’t be colored as PayPal, but how can we be sure we did everything properly?

The Direct Session dimension

We can use this dimension to see each session. No means it’s really not direct. Yes means this is a direct session.

Adding the Direct Session dimension as a secondary dimension in the Source/Medium report
Direct Session dimension as secondary dimension

Notice the following:
1 – The / referral has 21,813 sessions, yet all of them have Yes as Direct Session. – this means that our Referral Exclusion works properly
2 – We have two google / organic dimensions. The first one that contains 53,629 sessions are a direct session, the second that has 8,028 sessions, are sessions that actually came from a search in Google.
3 – To better understand the meaning and the accuracy of this dimension. You can see that for the google / organic and the / referral sources that have the value “Yes” in the Direct Session dimension, have 0 under the new users metric. This means that all of these sessions are not the first session of the user, at least the second. The first one may be google / organic and the second one direct.

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