_utma Google Analytics Cookie Demystified

As I wrote in my previous article, Google Analytic drops few cookies that helps it produce the nice reports that you in Google Analytics interface. One of those cookies is _umta. This cookie is used to determine the unique visitor, visit count and recency. Below is an explanation of this cookie.

_utma cookie consists of 6 parts separated by “.”

  • A hash key that identifies the domain an is unique for each domain.
  • Unique visitor id
  • Timestamp of the first visit of that visitor
  • Timestamp of the previous visit – the one that preceded the current one
  • Timestamp of the current visit
  • Total visits by the visitor

The final cookie looks like this

[domain identifier].[unique visitor id].[timstamp of first visit].[timestamp of previous visit].[timestamp of current visit].[total visits]

See the figure below to see the final output

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