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Universal Analytics & iOS 15.5: are we tracking traffic from the US correctly?

As of June 2022, a steady and significant increase in traffic and revenues from the United States has been highlighted in Universal Analytics, positioning the latter among the top countries for best performances.

As of June 2022, a steady and significant increase in traffic and revenues from the United States has been highlighted in Universal Analytics, positioning the latter among the top countries for best performances. But in reality, it is only an apparent growth. A deeper analysis has revealed an anomalous and suspicious situation: most of this traffic comes from users using devices with the iOS operating system.


Main insights from the analysis

To try to answer this sharp increase in sessions and revenue from the United States, we asked ourselves a series of pertinent questions:

  • Has growth occurred steadily in all countries?
  • Have special initiatives been taken for the country United States?
  • Is this traffic from bots?

Investigating these questions in Universal Analytics, it was found that:

  1. 1. Traffic from the United States has increased by 50% compared to the previous period, in which the anomaly was not encountered.
  2. As highlighted by the example, the number of sessions in the US country has undergone a significant increase since the beginning of June 2022:

2. In reality, this traffic lacks the cataloging of Region and City, which are classified as “not set” (undefined):

  1. 3. Going further, it should be noted that the traffic component mostly comes from users using iOS devices (75%).

In parallel, we carried out an analysis on the transactions classified as coming from the United States, discovering that many of them came from other countries:

Again, the analysis revealed that the operating system of the devices from which the suspicious traffic originated is iOS:

In particular, starting from version 15.5 onwards there is a strong growth trend:

Investigating Apple’s releases in the period May-June 2022, it emerged that new restrictions on privacy and user information tracking have been introduced since the iOS 15.5 version, specifically when browsing with the Safari browser.

In particular, the new service introduced by Apple iCloud Private Relay– was designed to protect user privacy while browsing the web with Safari, so that no one can access user information and view the sites visited. In this way, it is possible to maintain high browsing performance and at the same time protect the confidentiality of information.

As a result, when iCloud Private Relay is active on the user’s Apple device, Universal Analytics cannot identify it, miscategorizing this traffic from the United States.

You can find more information on this Apple information page.



From the analysis carried out and the evidence that emerged, it is possible to trace this anomaly to the use by users of devices with the iOS 15.5 operating system or later versions.

It is estimated that on average the anomaly has an impact on traffic growth from 30% to 70% and on the increase in revenue from 20% to 60%.

In general, the trend of traffic on the website varies according to some factors. These include:

  • the presence of sales in the US market
  • the percentage of users using devices with iOS operating system version 15.5 or later
  • the number of visits to the site

To carry out accurate market analyses with Universal Analytics it is, therefore, essential to consider the impact of the anomaly and the factors listed above. In this way it will be possible to draw truthful and correct strategic conclusions on the sales performance of the ecommerces analyzed, avoiding overestimating the performance of the US market compared to the others.


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