How Piwik PRO recognizes returning visitors?

Piwik PRO uses two mechanisms to recognize a returning visitor. When a visitor is coming back to our website and their last session was not more than 30 minutes ago, then Piwik PRO uses a Visitor ID or Session ID to collect data about them. When a visitor is coming back later, for example, the next hour, day, or week, then Piwik PRO uses cookies to recognize the returning visitor.

To detect if the visitor is returning, Piwik PRO will check the following: 

  • Visit count
  • First visit time
  • Last visit time

This information is held in a visitor cookie (_pk_id.*) and sent to Tracking API as &_idvc= and &_idts= and &_viewts=.

Additionally, on websites where the ecommerce module is working, Piwik PRO uses the _ects parameter to recognize a returning visitor. When a visitor previously visited the website and ordered something, the time of the purchase is stored in a cookie. Anytime they visit the website again, the tracker will send the _ects parameter with that time.

A returning visitor will be counted as new if it is more than 13 months since they visited. 13 months is the default time for storing a visitor cookie (_pk_id.*). This period can be changed in Menu > Tag Manager > Tags > Piwik PRO (tracking code) > Remove the visitor cookie at custom time.

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