I wholeheartedly agree. Especially in higher education, the recipient of an analytics report rarely knows what the term *unique *really means in this context or the problems with measuring unique visitors.
“Unique visitors” is misleading. Why? According to Brian’s post:
Firstly, cookies get lost, blocked and deleted. Research has shown that after a period of four weeks, nearly one third of tracking cookies are missing, which means the visitor will be incorrectly considered a new unique visitor should they return to the same website.
The longer the time period, the greater the chance of this happening, which makes comparing year-on-year data invalid for example. In addition, browsers make it very easy these days for cookies to be removed – see the new ‘incognito’ features of the latest Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer browsers.
However, the biggest issue for counting uniques faced by both on and off-site web analytics tools is how many devices people use to access the web.
The problem I see with unique visitors is the name. Most (and by most I mean the recipients of your report!) *assume* unique visitor means a person. Unique implies … well … that it’s just that … unique – one – a person.