Isn’t it frustrating when you get a great Cost-Per-Click on your FB Ads and your Google Analytics barely shows any increase in paid traffic on the webpage?
It all boils down to understanding how these 2 platforms are set up differently to measure different events/engagements.
1. Differences in Traffic Metrics
- Facebook metrics: Clicks(All) vs Link clicks
Facebook Clicks(All) includes all clicks on the platform including likes, shares, link clicks, etc, whereas “Link clicks” just represent clicks on the Ad copy. It is easy to get confused between these two metrics. Just use Link clicks and you will avoid this trap. But wait there’s more…
- Facebook metrics: Link clicks Vs Unique Link Clicks
Link clicks metric considers all the link clicks, even the duplicates, so when a user clicks twice on an Ad copy during the standard Google Analytics session of 30 mins, Facebook reports 2 “Link clicks”, whereas Google Analytics reports just a single session.
To Avoid the mismatch, it’s always better to use the “Unique Link clicks” metric instead of using the “Link clicks” metric in the Facebook reports. This should approximately match the “Unique Visitors” on the Google Analytics side
Whereas, if we look at Facebook, it doesn’t require cookies to track a click. It just records the clicks on the Ad copy. (And since it is on the Facebook platform, cookies, etc do not matter).
- Users: Exit of users before GA code loads on the site
In a few cases, the user who lands on the website landing page after clicking on the Facebook Ad might exit the website even before the Google Analytics code is loaded on the page. This will not record a session on the Google Analytics dashboard, but Facebook would have recorded this as a click, so here comes the data discrepancy.
Mobile user sessions from Facebook campaigns might be another cause for data discrepancy, slow internet speed can cause users to leave before the page loads fully. Once again, the session will not be recorded in Google Analytics, but a click will be recorded in Facebook.
To avoid this, compress the size of the page as much as possible to load faster on mobile phones and move Google Analytics code to the header of the page instead of the footer.
- Viewing sampled data on GA report
In general Google Analytics reports are not sampled, but if a website gets a lot of sessions or in the case where segments are used in Google Analytics, the report might show sampled data. In such cases, data from Facebook will not match.
- Mobile App users – Referrer data removed
Sometimes, mobile apps that show Facebook Ads remove referral data when users enter the website after clicking on the Ad. In such cases Google Analytics will not be able to track the source of the visit and this traffic will be assigned as direct traffic.
This is the general cause of data mismatch for paid mobile traffic from Facebook.
This discrepancy might exist in spite of the UTM parameters that are added to the link on the Facebook platform.
- Reporting – Different time zones
If the time zone of the Google Analytics account and Facebook Ads manager account is not the same then for the selected time frame, data will change. This is easy to avoid, just set the same time zone for both the platforms.
- Installation issue – Google Analytics not installed properly
This is probably obvious but worth mentioning for completeness. If Google Analytics code is not correctly installed on the landing page or broken, the data reporting will have issues resulting in data mismatch between both these platforms.
- Filters – Filters inside GA affecting data
If a filter is being applied to Google Analytics view, traffic from Facebook might be getting filtered out. Check for this or just look at data in the unfiltered master view on GA.
2. Differences in Conversion Metrics
- Incorrect Installation of a Facebook pixel
- Different attribution models on both the platforms
If a user clicks on Facebook Ad and lands on the landing page and then leaves. If they come back anytime after 30 mins and then completes a transaction, then Google Analytics will attribute this conversion to “organic”.
Whereas, Facebook will attribute that conversion to Facebook Ad.
- Date of click vs date of purchase
If a user clicked on Facebook Ad today but made the purchase on the next day, Facebook attributes the conversion on the day of clicking the Ad, whereas Google Analytics reports the conversion on the day of purchase. This often leads to discrepancies especially if the conversion goal is time-sensitive.
- Cross-device tracking
If a user visits the website on their mobile phone and later makes a purchase on a desktop device, Facebook has the ability to capture the data from cross devices, whereas Google Analytics by default cannot capture such data, so the transaction will be considered as a “Organic” by Google Analytics.
In most of the cases, the discrepancies between Facebook and Google Analytics reporting can be avoided and managed by setting up the right goals and events. But, Google Analytics and Facebook Ads are essentially different tools using different techniques for reporting. Our recommendation is to consider these two platforms NOT as alternate to each other but as complementary to generate better insights from the reports.
Have you noticed any other reasons for discrepancies? We would love to hear from you in the comment section below.