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.
Gathering accurate, reliable data is the foundation for gaining the actionable insights you need to make important budgetary decisions.
Marketers have long struggled to accurately match Facebook conversion and click metrics against data in Google Analytics as both platforms track performance so differently.
There are many factors that lead to data discrepancies between Facebook and Google Analytics, and the purpose of this guide is to help you understand what they are.
For this article, we’ll discuss:
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Are you struggling to match your Facebook data with Analytics?
We reveal the most common reasons that lead to data inconsistencies between Facebook Ads and Google Analytics and provide recommendations to help make your reporting more accurate.
Download the guide on solving the data mismatch between Facebook and Analytics
Put simply, data discrepancies in analytics are when two or more platforms display a difference between data and information.
When tracking Facebook ads in Google Analytics, you’ll likely run into data discrepancies at some point or another. Typically, small data discrepancies aren’t a reason for concern.
Tools such as Facebook Ad Manager and Google Analytics track data differently, so, truth be told, your numbers won’t ever 100% match.
Large data discrepancies, on the other hand, can draw you to the wrong conclusions about your marketing performance if left unresolved, which can negatively impact your bottom line.
Important note ✏️
Chances are you’ve experienced the effects of the iOS 14 update. Ruler acts as a connector between Facebook and Analytics with the use of first-party cookie tracking. It allows you to continue tracking the full source of your leads from Facebook and other marketing channels to provide a single source of truth about which ads, campaigns and landing generate the most value for your business.
Book a demo a Ruler Analytics to learn more
First, we’re going to analyse the discrepancies between Facebook clicks and Google Analytics sessions. Then, we’ll take a closer look at the issues related to conversion tracking.
Note: For a more in-depth explanation, we recommend that you download our guide on how to solve the data discrepancies between Facebook Ads and Google Analytics.
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 by advertisers.
It’s not uncommon for a user to click on one of your ads multiple times, especially if they’re engaged in online shopping.
If, for some reason, a user clicks on your ad twice within a 30-minute session, Facebook would report those interactions as two separate clicks, whereas Google Analytics would only display one session.
Google Analytics uses first party cookies to capture data about web visitors.
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.
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.
💡 Pro tip
While we’re on the topic, check out our guide and reveal the most common reasons that lead to data inconsistencies between Google Ads and Analytics.
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 notable reasons for the data discrepancy between Facebook clicks and Google Analytics conversions.
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.
💡 Pro Tip
Get more familiar with attribution modelling on Facebook and learn how to gain a more unified view of your marketing performance.
Getting smarter with Facebook attribution
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.
By default, Facebook uses a 7-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
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 is a people-based platform, so 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.
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.
Data discrepancies are common, but doesn’t mean you can’t minimise them.
Misunderstanding the data discrepancies above can lead you to 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, such as:
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.
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.
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 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.
Include both Google Ad clicks and Google Analytics session metrics in your reports. Explain to your clients and company executives that Facebook Ads and Google Analytics report clicks and sessions “differently”.
The techniques we’ve discussed can help minimise the data discrepancies between Facebook Ads and Analytics, but they don’t necessarily resolve them.
To close the gap between Facebook Ads and Analytics, you need a solution that can help provide a single source of truth, and also:
Using marketing attribution software like Ruler Analytics, you can track visitors on an individual level, allowing you to monitor and measure the exact movements and track cross-channel journeys more cohesively.
You can follow individual users and pinpoint which ads, campaigns and landing pages are having the most significant impact on revenue-led metrics.
Product note ✏️
Want more information on Ruler? See exactly how Ruler tracks customer touchpoints and closes the loop between your Facebook campaigns and revenue.
Download the guide on how Ruler Analytics works
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.
Ready to improve the quality of your reporting in Facebook and Analytics? Book a demo of Ruler Analytics and start attributing revenue directly to your advertising efforts.
This article was originally published in August 2020 and was last updated on 4th August 2021 for freshness.