The Google Analytics Real-Time reports are mesmerizing. There is perhaps nothing more fascinating or visceral in Web analytics than seeing how many people are visiting your site right now, where they’ve come from, and what they’re doing.
But just how long does a visitor count as active in the Real-Time reports?
5 minutes. That is, after 5 minutes of inactivity, the visitor is no longer calculated into the active visitor count.
Contrast this with the Pageviews timeline that also appears in the Real-Time Overview report, which displays pageviews that have occurred over the last 30 minutes. If a visitor viewed pages 6, 15, 18, and 28 minutes ago, these pageviews will count towards the Pageviews Per Minute chart, but this visitor will not count towards the giant active visitor tracker.
Contrast this also with Google Analytics sessions, which end after 30 minutes of inactivity. That is, if a visitor views page A on your site, does nothing for 31 minutes, and then views page B, Google Analytics considers the second pageview to start a new and separate visit.