Visitors versus Unique Visitors

One of the concepts that people usually misunderstand when speaking about digital data is the terminology used in the platforms. For example, I often hear these questions:

  • “Are you giving me unique visitors or visitors?”
  • Or even “do you have unique visits too?”.

They exemplify how the concept is not crystal clear and therefore, they end up misused.


Visitors are defined as each and every person that accesses the website. For example if we were talking about a physical store, the unique visitors would be the amount of people that are visiting the store in a specific time frame. In Omniture this is clear because it has unique visitors metric break down by month, quarter and year. No one says “I had 50 unique clients in my store this afternoon” because clients are all unique. But we do say unique visitors when we refer to the digital store – most of it because of Omniture terminology – but they actually refer to the same concept: clients.

New Visitors

New visitors in Omniture are associated with the visit number, any visitor that has the visit number equals 0 is considered a brand new one. And to have the new visitor equal 0, it would have to be the absolutely first time ever you have been to that site using that device. Well, it is cookie based.

Also, as a consequence of using the cookie register, if he/she deletes/cleans the cache, we are no longer able to identify the customer history. Therefore it would count as a new visitor.

Returning Visitors

Because we have new visitor, we also have returning visitor. Basically, it is anyone that does not have a visit number 0 attached to the cookie. Or anyone that is entering the store/website for a time that is not the first.


Going back to the context of a physical store, visits are the number of times someone enters the store. If they leave and come back, it’d be considered a new visit even though it’s the same client. In this context, every visit is unique too. Well, what would be a visit that is not unique, if such term exists? Exactly! There’s no such thing as returning visit because what it returns is the visitor.

So putting in a context, a visitor comes to the site for the first time and within the same day visits the site again and buys something and leaves.

This is the table of key metrics for that day:

New visitors 1
Unique Visitors 1
Visits 2


So in conclusion the clients (unique visitor/visitor ) comes (visit) the store for the first time (new visitor) on the day one, and come back (returning visitor) on the day 2.

I hope this can help people to understand better this concepts.


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