First Touch Attribution

  • 5 November 2020
  • 6 replies

Hello!  We’re getting set up with Mixpanel and have had data coming in from Segment for a little over a week.  Apologies if this is a super basic question!


I can’t find Initial Referrer or Initial Referring Domain anywhere in our data. 


If I explore the Live Data under Data Management > Live Data > Filter by Property, then I get a “Referrer” property, and there is a “Referrer” property in our “Loaded a page” event, but no Initial Referrer or Initial Referring Domain in our user data.


Has anyone experienced this before, or know where to look to solve the problem?


Thanks so much!



6 replies

Userlevel 3
Badge +3

Hey @allison_tl ,

Do you see the referrer in Segment’s debugger?

Hi Robin!

We do see “referrer” in Segment’s debugger, so it looks that’s getting properly passed through Segment.  But we don’t see any initial referrer or initial referring domain anywhere in Mixpanel.

Are we supposed to be setting this as a super property on the identify call?

Hi @robin - I’m an engineer from @allison_tl’s team… Trying to debug this issue.

Taking a look at this documentation, it looks like there should be an automatic cookie that is supposed to get set with the initial referrer. Although, I do not see a cookie or localstorage that includes that information...

Mixpanel's Javascript library will track Initial Referrer and Initial Referring Domain and append them as a property to any event that a user completes. These properties are stored in the Mixpanel cookie the first time a user comes to your site and will not change on future site visits as long as the cookie is not cleared.


When looking in the debugger, I see the RAW properly set when I come from a referrer… and the “Pretty” also set properly. This all looks accurate. I then look in to the `live events` and I properly see the `referrer` coming through on the event.

If I then close the tab, reopen it directly. Referrer is no longer being passed. According to the documentation, the initial referrer should always be set….

Here is the correct debugger values when I go from to our website.{
path: '/',
referrer: '',
search: '',
title: 'The Landing',
url: ''
"page": {
"path": "/",
"referrer": "",
"search": "",
"title": "The Landing",
"url": ""
Userlevel 6
Badge +3

Hi @gregan8 ,


Can you confirm whether you see initial referrer in Insights? It sounds like you were originally looking at Live View, but Live View is only a subset of the data in your project. And there are cases I will explain below where these values are not sent with an event.


You are correct that these are both default properties with the javascript SDK - 

  • Initial Referrer ($initial_referrer) - Referring URL at first arrival.
  • Initial Referring Domain ($initial_referring_domain) - Referring domain at first arrival. 

When an event does not have a 'Referrer' property (undefined) this means the user had arrived at that webpage directly.
For example, if the user typed in on their browser and then triggered the event Page View on, the referrer would be an empty string (it would not be sent with the event).

We use document.referrer shown here:

For 'Initial Referrer', we're more specific where if the very first time a user arrives at your webpage directly, we'll append the value '$direct' and this will live in the cookie or local storage of the user — you do not need to call an additional entry. When a first time user arrives on your website, the value is stored in the browser cookie and sent alongside all events.


Hi :hand_splayed: non-dev marketer here - any way to set up a report that shows the referral source? I see it added as a filter, but I’m looking to replicate what I had in Google Analytics that shows our top referring domains, the session length, bounce rate, etc. I understand it may be that the correct event isn’t getting sent through from Segment? Thanks! 

Userlevel 3
Badge +3

Hello @evforija ,

I would keep GA along side Mixpanel. 

GA is way better in terms of attribution and some web analysis. 

Check the Lexicon on Mixpanel, you might set the referrer as hide.