You may have noticed that your data from Facebook advertising is often quite different from your data in Google Analytics. In fact, discrepancies between click data can be as high as 80 percent. Understanding the reasons for these discrepancies will enable you to increase the quality of your data and, therefore, improve the accuracy of reporting.
Reasons for the Differences
Facebook is able to measure conversions better than Google Analytics, as users are logged into the platform. Google Analytics has to rely on cookie-based measurement, which reduces the number of mobile conversions it reports and makes cross-device conversions difficult to measure. Data may also fail to appear in Google Analytics if users enable browser extensions to prevent tracking, whereas this has no impact on Facebook reports.
Types of Clicks
You’ll notice in your Facebook reports that there are two click reporting columns: one for all clicks and another for link clicks. “All clicks” contains data for interactions with your ad, including likes and shares. This means that the “all clicks” data will be a much higher number than in any report in Google Analytics. In “link clicks,” however, you’ll just have data about clicks on the link leading to your landing page.
Clicks and Sessions
Another thing to remember is that clicks in Facebook and sessions in Google Analytics are two different metrics.
Facebook counts clicks every time a user clicks on an ad. It counts a click even when the same user has clicked on the ad multiple times.
A session in Google Analytics, in contrast, is based on the activity of an individual user in a specific amount of time — the default is 30 minutes. If a user visits your site, leaves, and then returns within 30 minutes, this counts as a single session. This metric is particularly useful for ecommerce, as users often leave and come back within a short period of time during comparison shopping.
Google UTM Tags
You need to be using Google UTM tracking to track Facebook ads in Google Analytics. It is essential to ensure that your tracking is accurate, particularly in the source and medium fields. Plus, you need to make sure that the code on every page of your site is in the right place — if it’s in the wrong place, it may take longer to load and visitors may have left before it has had time to fire.
Facebook Conversion Tracking
It is necessary to have Facebook conversion tracking even if you’re already using Google Analytics goals, events, or ecommerce tracking. Conversion tracking will provide you with a different set of data, allowing you to make better-informed decisions.
Conversion Attribution Windows
Facebook and Google Analytics have different default conversion attribution windows. For instance, by default, Facebook includes view-through conversions. This means that it reports when a user sees your ad but doesn’t click it and then later heads to your website to make a purchase. Google Analytics is unable to attribute such conversions to Facebook ads.
You can reduce data discrepancies by removing this from your report data. In Facebook, head to “Settings,” find “Attribution,” and click “Edit.” Here, you’ll be able to change to a click and view window to match Google Analytics.
If someone is using an ad blocker, your Facebook pixel may fail to fire. Therefore, Facebook will report less conversions. However, this only leads to a small discrepancy if you are using conditional firing — check that you’re not using a combination of conditional and unconditional firing with your tags.
You should also check how many times specific standard events were triggered in your pixel dashboard to see if the raw pixel fires match. If they do match but there is a discrepancy in the conversion values, check currency, decimal places, and other variables in your purchase event codes.
In the case that Facebook reporting is showing more conversions than Google Analytics, use the Pixel Helper Tool to check for duplicate pixel fires. Redirects can sometimes cause these. If Facebook is reporting fewer conversions, check implementation on existing tag managers.
Facebook Ads Landing Pages
A final way to achieve more accurate data is to create Facebook ads landing pages. As these will not appear anywhere in your website navigation, users will just access these pages by clicking your ad. Exceptions are if a user bookmarks a page or shares it with another user, but this is most likely to be minimal. Therefore, you’ll know that close to 100 percent of views of such pages come from Facebook ads, no matter what Google Analytics reports.
Whereas you can resolve some data discrepancy issues, there will always be some differences between Facebook and Google Analytics due to the ways they collect and report on data. Simply understanding the reasons for such discrepancies will help you better utilize your data.