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Absolute Unique Visitors vs. New/Returning Visitors Reports

There has been some confusion as to the difference between the following two reports in Urchin 6:

  • Marketing Optimization - Unique Visitor Tracking - Absolute Unique Visitors
  • Marketing Optimization - Visitor Segment Performance - New vs. Returning

It appears as though the above two report on the same metrics, causing much confusion to the readers of the reports. It is quite the contrary, however - the two reports show different data about unique visitors to your site.

Absolute Unique Visitors Report

This report shows the number of First Time unique visitors compared to the number of Prior unique visitors. A First Time Visitor is a visitor who has visited your site for the first time at some point during the selected date range. If the visitor had visited your site prior to the selected date range, he/she is categories as a Prior Visitor.

New vs Returning Report

This report shows the number of visits, P/visit, goal conversions, and $/visit for New Visitors compared to Returning Visitors. By default, the pie chart is set to show the difference between visits. When comparing this graph to that of the Absolute Unique Visitors report, this is showing number of visits whereas the other is showing number of unique visitors.


Let's assume there were a total of 5 unique visitors to your site for a selected date range. The type and number of visits for each visitor are as such:

Visitor New/Prior Number of visits during range
Visitor 1 New 1
Visitor 2 New 3
Visitor 3 Prior 2
Visitor 4 New 1
Visitor 5 Prior 1

The Absolute Unique Visitor report would show:

First Time Visitors: 3 (60%)
Prior Visitors: 2 (40%)

The New vs Returning Visitors report would read:

New Visitors: 5 visits (62.5%)
Returning Visitors: 3 visits (37.5%)