Understanding 3DIssue 'Page_Turn' events in Google Analytics

PUBLISHED 10 May 2020 - UPDATED 12 May 2023

Recently I wrote about using Google Analytics with publishing software PageSuite, specifically how to view the analytics data for a single issue of a digital magazine.

Since then I have had to tackle the same task in a different publishing platform, 3DIssue, for its Flipbooks Online. It turned out to be a bit more complex.

In the Google Analytics account for your 3DIssue publication, go to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages. You will immediately notice three problems:

1. It is not obvious from the 'Page' value which issue of the publication is being referred to
2. The report is showing very few pageviews of each 'Page' (no, it's not that your digi mags are unpopular!)
3. There is no indication of digi mag page number being viewed

What issue am I looking at?

Just like PageSuite, 3DIssue captures the name of the individual issue (eg '7 May 2020') in the 'Page Title' dimension. This means you can use Page Title as a Secondary Dimension or as part of a Segment in order to drill down into your data.

So add Page Title as a Secondary Dimension to the All Pages report, and things will get (a little) clearer:

Page title in 3DIssue

You can see that the 'Page' value is the URL path of a particular issue, and each 'Page' value equates to a single 'Page Title' value. By which I mean, '23809/31690/index.html' is always the issue '7 May 2020'.

However a couple of different variations of the URL path might show up, as in the screengrab above. This is because the URL path differs slightly depending on whether you have domain masking in place and are using your own domain, or are using the 3D Issue's cloud.3dissue.net subdomain. Here is an example:

Your own domain23809/31690/index.html

The four values included in the 3D Issue URL path are, in order:

Account ID / Brand ID / Publication ID / Issue ID

But if you are using your own domain, your URL will only contains the latter two values: publication ID and Issue ID. Building a Segment in Google Analytics? Just use these two values and you should be fine in either case.

Where have my pageviews gone?

3DIssue may take the same approach as PageSuite to capturing the issue name. But when it comes to recording pageviews of individual digital publication pages, 3DIssue works very differently indeed.

When a user views your 3DIssue publication URL, this is captured as a pageview. But any subsequent page turns are then captured as Events rather than pageviews. This makes the pageviews figure in the All Pages report more akin to something like Sessions. Your digital publication may have hundreds of magazine pages but remember it is only a single web page.

The event in question is the sensibly named 'Page_Turn'. So, to summarise the similarities and differences between PageSuite and 3DIssue:

PageSuitePage Title dimensionPage dimension, Pageviews metric
3DIssuePage Title dimensionEvent Action 'Page_Turn'

If you are a regular user of Google Analytics, you will know that Events are made of various components, including Event Category (mandatory), Event Action (mandatory), and Event Label (optional). Here are the values for an example 'Page_Turn' event in 3DIssue:

Event Category23809/31690/ HTML5
Event ActionPage_Turn
Event Label10

You will notice that the value of the Event Category dimension matches the 'Page' value we saw earlier (it's identical apart from ending in  '/ HTML5' rather than '/index.html'). So this can also be used to separate out the data for one particular issue.

Event Label - one page or two?

As for Event Label, this shows the page that the user has turned to (or, effectively, viewed). However bear in mind that desktop browsers will show a double-page spread (DPS) - that is, a left and a right hand page. Mobile browsers, conversely, will only show a single page at a time.

So an Event Label of 10 could indicate a user viewing both page 10 and 11 (on desktop), or just page 10 (on mobile). This ambiguity exists with all even page values.

Conversely an odd value such as '3' indicates a user turning to a right-hand page only, most likely on a mobile device (which only displays one page of a Flipbook at a time).

(This oddity does not exist in PageSuite, where a view of the double-page spread would be captured as '/10-11' and a single page as either '/10' or '/11'.) 

And if I grumble about 3DIssue capturing views of Flipbook pages as 'Events' rather than 'Pageviews', remind me that it does make very good use of Events generally. While PageSuite only captures 'Open URL' and 'Download', 3DIssue captures 'Zoomed_page', 'PoweredBy_Clicked', 'Contents_Jump_To_Page', 'Websites_visited' and more. This is in addition, of course, to 'Page_Turn'!

Viewing pageviews for one Flipbook issue

So knowing all of this, how would we see total pageviews for one specific Flipbook issue, along with a breakdown of pageviews per DPS/single page? There are several approaches, but this is perhaps the easiest:

  1. Go to Behaviour > Events > Top Events and click on the Event Category that corresponds with your issue
  2. Event Action will be selected as the Primary Dimension. Click on the Page_Turn Event Action
  3. You will now see those Page_Turn events for your issue broken down by Event Action (DPS or single page number). You will also see the total number of Page_Turn events for your issue (in the below example, 2,109):

3DIssue pageviews

Initially I was going to suggest using a Segment with the following filter: Sessions include Page Title exactly matching [name of issue]. However I suppose it would be possible for a user to view more than one digi mag issue in a single session, in which case you might end up attributing Page_Turn events from one issue to another issue.

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3 years ago

Thanks for your article. Is there a way to specify Event Labels at a link by link level? We are including hundreds of products from our store in our digital issue, and we want to know which products a customer clicks on then buys/bounces, etc.

We're using regex to identify our SKUs to create links, but now need to figure out how to add individual event labels to each SKU link.

Is that possible?

James Clark
Hi! I'm James Clark and I'm a freelance web analyst from the UK. I'm here to help with your analytics, ad operations, and SEO issues.
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