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Understand Amazon KPIs - What's the difference between clicks and sessions?

If you’re running a business on Amazon, you’re going to be looking through a ton of sales and marketing data, looking through metrics, stats and KPIs to see how things are going. 

These naturally get confusing from time to time, and certain metrics seem similar - or almost identical - and discrepancies between them can confuse things even further. 

One of the most common sets of KPIs that get confused are clicks and sessions.

Both are important, and both essentially describe a potential customer viewing your product. 

So what is the difference and why does it matter? 

A big fine line 

Both clicks and sessions are basic indicators of visitor activity, and when you’re looking at a spreadsheet much of the time they can seem like the same thing, but the fine line between them has big implications and makes them really two completely separate metrics. 

A click is pretty much what it says on the tin - the most basic measure of user traffic that simply tells you someone went onto your page through your ad or asset. When a user clicks on an ad, or clicks through on a product listing on the search results page, it counts as a single click. You can have multiple clicks in a short period of time - if you click on a product page, leave, and then come back, for example - but that does not necessarily mean you have multiple sessions. 

A session can be described as a set of interactions that happen within a set period of time on a site by a unique user. So if you are browsing Amazon for a new raincoat, for example, and open up multiple tabs to look at several competing options, it would count as a single user session even though that would translate to multiple clicks across multiple products. 

User sessions typically end either through time-defined expiry limits or a change of campaign - that is to say, if for example you come in through one campaign, leave and then come back in through another. 

How can they get mixed up?

There are a number of reasons why the two metrics can diverge - most of the time with clicks far outnumbering sessions -  when you look at them side by side, for example: 

  • Even if an individual user stays on the same page, if they get distracted and the session times out, when they come back to browse it could be counted as a separate session.
  • If a user bookmarks a product page and comes back to it later, it could be counted as a click but technically two separate sessions
  • If the same user clicks the same ad multiples times, it would count all the clicks as one session
  • If a user clicks on the ad but leaves very quickly before a tracking code can be loaded, it could count the click but there would be no corresponding session.

The distinction is also important because for most advertising campaigns on Amazon, your ad spend is based on a pay-per-click model, meaning you will pay for the clicks, but it does not necessarily mean that the resulting session will bear fruit or result in a conversion. 

Clicks will let you determine how well your ad is doing in terms of pulling people in, and by extension have an effect on your marketing budget and ACoS. While sessions themselves will not affect your ACoS, keeping track of them is essential to determining your conversion rate by comparing them to items sold within a certain period of time. 

Ultimately, even though the actual numbers may differ between them for a range of reasons, the most important thing to take note of when you are evaluating them statistically is the trendlines. SImply put, more clicks and more sessions are better than fewer clicks and fewer sessions, but both need to be evaluated in relation to the sales they ultimately generate.

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