Why does your Facebook advertising data not match up with your Google Analytics data? This is a question that pops up time-and-time again. Whether it is your conversion data, or click data, the discrepancies between Google Analytics and Facebook are usually very significant. Whether you’ve wondered the answer to this question yourself, or you need a detailed explanation to send to your clients, this blog post is here to help! In my experience, I’ve seen discrepancies between Facebook clicks and Google Analytics sessions as high as 80% in industries where the audience targeted has high mobile usage. In other instances, the discrepancy has been around 50%. In this blog post I’ll be covering the potential reasons for both Facebook click and conversion data being reported differently in Google Analytics compared to Facebook, and providing some recommendations to help make your reporting as accurate as possible.
Use Google UTM Tags on your Facebook ads To track your Facebook ads traffic in Google Analytics, you need to be using Google UTM tracking. You may already be doing this, in which case skip to the next section of this blog post. If not, you can learn how to set this up here. When you set up your UTM tracking, the most important things are the fields for source and medium, so make sure these are filled in accurately. Set up Facebook conversion tracking Even if you have Google Analytics goals, events or ecommerce tracking, you should still set up Facebook conversion tracking. This is because these two channels report conversions very differently, so it is important to have visibility of both sets of data, for you to then make an informed decision from. If you don’t already have conversion tracking set up, you can learn how to set this up here.
Why doesn’t my Facebook clicks data match up to what is reported in Google Analytics?
Why doesn’t my Facebook conversion data match up to what is reported in Google Analytics?
The reasons why Facebook conversion tracking and Google Analytics goals, events or ecommerce tracking are different are partially due to the reasons identified for clicks above. If the visit from the click isn’t tracked successfully or as an individual visit, then naturally if a conversion occurs because of that visit, it won’t be tracked back to that visit either. In addition to this, there are a few other reasons the conversions reported via Facebook conversion tracking and Google Analytics events, goals or ecommerce: Facebook and Google have different attribution models By default, Google Analytics attributes a conversion to the very last traffic source that the user visited the site via before making the conversion. For example if the user visited via organic search, then Facebook ads, then a PPC ad, Google Analytics would attribute the conversion to PPC. The default attribution model for Facebook’s conversion tracking on the other hand is for any conversion that involved the user interacting or viewing a Facebook ad and then converting, to be attributed to Facebook ads. In the example of a user who first visited the site via organic search, then via Facebook ads, and then lastly via PPC, Facebook ads would attribute that conversion to Facebook. It is for this reason that Facebook will report more conversions than Google Analytics. Facebook’s default attribution settings also include view-though conversions which mean that if the user didn’t even click the ad but viewed it and then converted within the next 24 hours, Facebook would attribute the conversion to Facebook ads. A view through conversion would have never been tracked in Google Analytics at all. This kind of attribution is very loose, and if you’d like to change the attribution used for your Facebook ads reporting columns you can customise this using these instructions. Have you got your Facebook conversion tracking set up properly? It sounds pretty obvious, but a lot of the time the Facebook event code has been placed on the wrong page of the site (like the page before the checkout rather than the thank-you page). This will naturally inflate the amount of conversions recorded in Facebook compared to Google Analytics. Are you looking at the right Facebook conversion? The Facebook Ads Manager interface does have a column for all actions, which combines all the conversion actions you might be tracking on your site with Facebook pixels, for example adds to basket, initiate checkout, as well as complete purchases. In Google Analytics, you might not be tracking each of these stages to purchase as individual conversions, and so the number of total actions recorded in Facebook will be significantly different to the conversions reported in Google Analytics. What if the times of conversions don’t add up? If you’re comparing the days or times that conversions happened and you find they don’t match, it might be because Facebook will record the time as the time of the click that resulted in the conversion, whereas Google Analytics record this that the time of the actual action taking place.
What can you do to avoid the discrepancies between Facebook and Google Analytics?
Unfortunately there is very little that can be done to change the discrepancies between Facebook and Google Analytics. You will probably always experience some level of discrepancy, but you can try the following tips to reduce this: What can you do to reduce traffic reporting differences between Analytics and AdWords? If you’re really worried about these discrepancies, you could look at your server log files as these can sometimes report traffic sources more accurately than Google Analytics. Another option would be to create bespoke Facebook ads landing pages, which are only used in the ads, and not accessible from the websites main navigation or used in any other ads. This means that when you view the Google Analytics traffic to these pages, you can be confident they are all from Facebook, regardless of what Google Analytics might report. The only way this wouldn’t be accurate is if someone bookmarks the link and returns numerous times, or shares the link with others. What can you do to reduce conversion reporting differences between Analytics and AdWords? Try to keep the attribution models used across Facebook and Google Analytics as similar as possible, by removing view through conversions from being reported in Facebook (instructions here). You could also try using the Multi-channel Funnels report in Google Analytics, to see at what stages in the path to purchase Facebook ad clicks are assisting conversions. From this information, you can get an idea of potentially how influential Facebook ads have been on the conversions reported in Google Analytics. Ultimately, the discrepancy is nothing to be concerned about, it happens across the board for every advertiser I have ever spoken to, and every account I have ever worked on. Facebook have lots of measures in place to counter ad fraud and automatically filter out invalid clicks, so your ad spend is in safe hands!