Difference Between Not Provided And Not Set

One of many Google Analytics mysteries is (Not Set) and (Not provided) as values. Both of these words sound similar and even have parenthesis for some odd reason. Although in this post we are going to understand differences and meanings of both, after reading this you might be able to address some (Not Set) Values in your account but there is no hope to get over (Not Provided) deterministically.

If we use an analogy of a departmental store , Its like you are looking for a pack of cheese and you can not buy it because the store manager has put hold on selling cheese, this represents (Not Provided) which is triggered by policy and is mostly out of your control.
But if on the other hand you can not buy cheese because store manager has forgotten to stock it up it will represent (Not Set) which is mistake and can be fixed.

Analogies are great to understand the concepts but do not necessarily help in understanding practical use. So lets take a look at some practical examples of (Not Provided) and (Not Set).

(Not Set)

  • Keyword data : If autotagging between GA and AdWords is misconfigured, this will result in AdWords campaign/ keyword data represent in reports as (Not Set)
  • Missing UTMs: Not every time all 5 UTM parameters are tagged in URL in which case the missing URL parameters will be represented in report as (Not Set)
  • Missing event parameters: While instrumenting event for Google Analaytics mandatory parameters are Category and Action and if other optional parameters such as label or value are not instrumented these will be represented in report as (Not Set)

Google-Analytics-Not-Set

(Not Provided)

  • Search Query data: Search engines withhold the data of search queries of user is logged in or browsing search engine with secure(https) protocol. Search engines have introduced this practice to protect privacy of user.  Although there are may probabilistic workarounds to get sense of this data there is no deterministic way of acquiring this exact data in any web analytics tool including Google Analytics

Google-Analytics-Not-provided

If you have found this post from search engine your visit is most probably will be shown under (Not Provided) in my report :)….

Please follow and like me:
565

AuthorNIkhil Parachure

Nikhil is nothing short of "Swiss Knife of Digital Marketing" over the course of last 10 years he has been involved in practically every facet of Digital Marketing and Analytics. Starting career with paid search Nikhil has built and managed award winning digital campaigns, has been Google Adwords Top Contributor, Planned and implemented several complex and large scale web and mobile analytics implementations. Currently working for a leading ecommerce platform in India as Head of Digital Marketing Nikhil has also conducted analytics and marketing trainings for several MNCs.

5 thoughts on “Difference Between Not Provided And Not Set

  1. Hi Nikhil,

    What shold be the next step post this?
    Keyword data : If autotagging between GA and AdWords is misconfigured, this will result in AdWords campaign/ keyword data represent in reports as (Not Set)
    Missing UTMs: Not every time all 5 UTM parameters are tagged in URL in which case the missing URL parameters will be represented in report as (Not Set)

    Will the solution, attribute the past data as well?
    Thanks

    • HI Animesh,
      Unfortunately it will not backfill the past data. This will only provide you correct data in future from the point you fix it.

  2. Thanks for sharing this article on not set. I would further like to know that it has been said that if we keep a session going on for too long, say 30minutes +, the session breaks and it displays as “not set” of a particular landing page or source. Is this true?

    • This will happen only if user stays on this page for 30+ minutes, session is destroyed after 30 minutes and if the new session is triggered by an event on this page by a click. In this case this hit will not have a page but will start a session resulting in (not set) landing page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *