The data discrepancies between Facebook Ad Manager and Google Analytics are common, but that doesn’t mean you can’t minimise them. For this article, we’re going to show you a few methods that you can put in place to help resolve the inconsistencies between Facebook and Google Analytics.
We’re going to hazard a guess on why you’re here.
The data in your Facebook ad manager doesn’t match your Google Analytics reports?
If so, you’re not alone.
Facebook Ad Manager and Google Analytics don’t track data in the same way, which creates an inconsistency between the results you see in both platforms.
So, for this article, we’ll discuss:
- Why Facebook Ads and Google Analytics doesn’t match
- The discrepancy between Facebook clicks and Google Analytics sessions
- The discrepancy between Facebook and Google Analytics conversions
- How to reduce these common discrepancies between Facebook and Google Analytics.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Table of Contents
Why does Facebook Ads data not match Google Analytics?
Generally speaking, the data mismatch between the platforms stems from the following two reasons:
- The discrepancy in Facebook ad clicks and Google Analytics
- The discrepancy in Facebook and Google Analytics conversions
Let’s first take a look at the discrepancy between Facebook clicks and Google Analytics sessions, and then we’ll take a closer look at the inconsistencies with conversion tracking.
Discrepancy in Facebook clicks and Google Analytics sessions
Here are the most common reasons for the data discrepancy between Facebook clicks and Google Analytics sessions.
Google Analytics sessions and Facebook clicks aren’t the same
The biggest challenge advertisers face is that the number of click-throughs reported on Facebook doesn’t match the number of sessions in Google Analytics.
Google Analytics will only measure a session after a user has clicked on an ad and landed on your website, whereas Facebook will track any click engagement whether that be a like, share or comment.
Facebook reporting offers endless metrics to help measure the performance of your ads, with the most popular being “clicks” and “link clicks”.
As we’ve just mentioned, the “clicks” metric includes every interaction on an ad, such as a share, like or link click, to name a few examples.
Whereas “link clicks” only include the clicks that take place on an external link – say a landing page on your website.
As you can imagine, these metrics are often misconstrued.
That’s not all.
The metric “Link Clicks” will include any duplicate interactions.
If a user clicked on an ad three times, Facebook would report those interactions as three separate clicks, whereas Google Analytics would only show one session.
Facebook and Google Analytics track users differently
Google Analytics relies on cookies to collect information and track users on your website.
On the flip side, Facebook doesn’t require cookies to track clicks on an ad.
Users are required to log into Facebook, which makes it easy for the platform to attribute actions and track performance across different browsers and devices.
According to Facebook, more than 65% of conversions start on one device and are completed on another.
So, with that said, there’s a strong possibility that your Facebook is recording clicks and your Google Analytics isn’t, which is causing an inconsistency between your two platforms.
Google Analytics tracking code doesn’t fire
We’ve all done it.
Accidentally clicked on an ad on Facebook, and quickly closed the window before being redirected to a landing page.
In this case, it’s unlikely the tracking code on Google Analytics has had a chance the load, thus leaving that session unrecorded.
Although Facebook, on the other hand, would have still counted the click, creating an inconsistency between both reports.
This point, in particular, is a huge inconvenience for marketers that advertise on mobile and is probably the main culprit for the data discrepancy between Facebook and Google Analytics.
The discrepancies between Facebook and Google Analytics conversions
Facebook will set out to make itself look as valuable as possible to the advertiser, so will sometimes report a higher number of conversions than Google Analytics.
Here are some noteable reasons for the data discrepancy between Facebook clicks and Google Analytics conversions.
Differences between Facebook and Google Analytics attribution models
When a conversion happens, Facebook will automatically attribute credit to the ad a lead viewed or engaged with – even if no clicks took place.
So, let’s say a person sees a Facebook ad for your product but doesn’t click, but later that day, they visit your website using organic search and decide to make a sale.
In this case, Facebook would attribute this conversion to the ad that the person saw, whereas Google Analytics would be unable to capture this interaction.
By default, Google Analytics uses the non-direct last-click attribution model.
So, if we go back to our scenario above, Google Analytics would attribute all credit to organic search for the conversion, completely ignoring Facebook.
Google Analytics can’t track View-through conversions
The conversion report on Facebook uses a default 28-day window for click-through conversions and a 24-hour window for view-through conversions.
Here’s an explanation from Facebook, for those of you that don’t know how a View-through conversion works.
The period of time after an impression during which a view-through conversion will be recorded. View-through conversions occur after an ad impression if the user doesn’t interact with the ad but then later converts.
You can set your view-through conversion window when you create or edit conversion actions. For example, if you pick 30 days for a conversion action, view-through conversions that happen within 30 days of an impression are tracked. A longer view-through conversion window will usually increase the number of view-through conversions that Google Ads records.
Google Analytics only supports a click-through attribution window, so as you can imagine, this discrepancy leaves a lot of advertisers in a tailspin.
That’s not all.
Facebook doesn’t differentiate between the two types of conversions, which means that they’re combined into a single data point.
For more information, make sure you check out this guide on how to measure your impact on marketing with Facebook Attribution.
Facebook assigns multiple conversions
Because Facebook is people-based, it can assign multiple conversions to the same user, whereas Google Analytics can only allocate one conversion per journey.
This point, in particular, causes a few headaches for businesses who rely on repeat purchases.
Facebook pixel installed incorrectly
If you install the Facebook pixel incorrectly, then Google Analytics will fail to capture your data.
A common mistake is that marketers will install their tracking pixel on the landing page, which is linked in the ad creative.
Although, it’s unlikely that users will convert into a lead on their initial touchpoint.
Ideally, the best place to put your tracking pixel is on a page where only you converted users can reach. For example, a thank you page after filling out a form.
Reduce the discrepancies between Facebook Ad Manager and Google Analytics
Data discrepancies are common, but doesn’t mean you can’t minimise them.
Misunderstanding these data discrepancies can lead you to the wrong conclusions. The type that could influence you to make the wrong decisions about where to spend your time and budget.
Thankfully, there are a few solutions that can help reduce the mismatch between Google Analytics and Facebook.
Close the loop between your Facebook ads and sales
To resolve the discrepancies between Facebook and Google Analytics, you need a solution that can provide a single source of truth to reveal what’s working and determine which efforts deserve credit.
And, Ruler Analytics can offer a fix.
Ruler Analytics is a closed-marketing attribution solution which aligns revenue from your CRM with marketing data in Google Analytics so that you can track your visitor’s multiple touchpoints to measure and attribute value accurately across the entire sales cycle.
What sets Ruler Analytics apart from traditional marketing analytics is that it can track your customers throughout the entire buying cycle.
Ruler Analytics identifies your website users and tracks their unique journey over multiple touchpoints.
Once an anonymous visitor converts into a lead, Ruler Analytics matches the user’s details to their marketing touchpoints and sends all this data to your CRM.
This populates the sales team’s system with conversion and marketing data, which helps them learn more about each prospect before reaching out to them.
Whenever a lead closes into revenue, the sales data is sent back into the Ruler Analytics dashboard. You can integrate this with Facebook Ads, Google Analytics and more so that you can measure marketing ROI straight from your favourite reporting tools.
Additional Note: Ruler Analytics supports offline conversion tracking and can integrate this data with your Google Analytics, CRM and Facebook Ad account, allowing you can match revenue and evidence which campaigns drove offline sales. See how our customer’s are benefiting from offline conversion tracking:
Don’t forget to download our handbook to learn more about closed loop marketing attribution, or book a call with our sales team and discover the smart way to manage and grow your marketing ROI.
Create Custom URL Parameters
Use URL parameters to measure your Facebook traffic and conversions more effectively in Google Analytics.
URL parameters are probably the most basic method to help bridge the gap between the data you see in Facebook and Google Analytics.
Additional Note: If you’re not sure how URL parameters work, we recommend you check out the following guides:
Auto-tagging is not available on Facebook, which means that you’ll need to manually add in your URL tags.
The most common (and easiest) way to generate URL parameters for your Facebook ad campaign would be to use Campaign URL Builder.
Make sure to use “facebook” as the Campaign Source and “cpc” in Campaign Medium.
This should help differentiate your paid traffic from any organic content you’ve shared on Facebook. Also, remember that URL parameters are case sensitive, so avoid using capital letters and spaces for that matter.
Remove View-through conversion from Facebook
If you want to simplify your conversion tracking, then you can remove 24-hour view through conversions from your attribution settings on Facebook.
That’ll mean that Facebook will only count click-through conversions, and should match up better with what’s being reported in Google Analytics.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Log in to Facebook Ad Manager
2. Click “Ad Account Settings”
3. Go to “Attribution” and click “Edit“.
4. Click the drop down under “Attribution Window” and select “Click“. Once you’ve done that, click “Save Changes“.
If you’ve followed the steps correctly, then your Facebook ad manager will now only report click-through conversions.
It’s important to remember that Facebook and Google Analytics are two completely different platforms.
Sometimes, it’s not necessarily about fixing the discrepancies it’s about accepting the fact that both Google Analytics and Facebook are complementary tools working together to provide a better understanding of your marketing performance.
And, with a tool like Ruler Analytics, you can go beyond basic conversion tracking in Google Analytics and Facebook to attribute revenue directly to your advertising efforts.
Which, in turn, will help you prove your impact on the bottom line and will allow you to manage and scale budget into the areas that have the potential to drive more revenue.