Discrepancies make it quite difficult for you to successfully pull off your client's digital campaigns. That's why it's very frustrating when your Facebook, Google Analytics, and Google Ads data all display entirely different metrics.
After all, how do you confidently present your data findings to your clients when they're inconsistent, hard to interpret and cause you to come up with invalid assumptions?
Furthermore, how do you do this without damaging your reputation and costing you your career?
Unfortunately, you don't. However, there is good news!
Data discrepancies are a common occurrence, and although you may not be able to confidently present inconsistent data, you can confidently explain the discrepancies away very simply.
Therefore, here are the top 3 things you need to know about data discrepancies that'll make you a better marketer.
#1 There Are Differences In Conversion Tracking And Attribution Modeling
According to Google Support when it comes to Google Ads, conversions are attributed to the last Google Ads click. Similarly, Google uses this last-click attribution model across all channels and all reports, except for direct channels and the multi-channel funnels reports.
For Instance, if a visitor clicks on a creative from your Google Ads account, returns the next day through an organic search result and triggers a transaction or reaches a goal page, Analytics will attribute the goal or transaction to google/organic.
And Google Ads will attribute the conversion to your Google Ads campaign by default.
Lastly, Google Ads' pixel is cookie-based so it generally doesn't have cross-browser or cross-device conversion tracking unless users are using Google's Chrome browser.
Although it's a very powerful tool with tons of customization options, Google Analytics is primarily an "on-site" tracking tool; Which means it's not hyper-focused on providing attribution models that keep track of "off-site" activities.
Furthermore, Google Analytics is cookie-based and identifies different browsers as different users. It also uses a "non-direct-last-click" attribution model by default.
This "non-direct-last-click" model attributes the entire conversion to the channel that was the last touch-point before any "direct" URL type-in.
A couple of quick settings can help Google Ads reporting and Google Analytics reporting align. Make sure you’re turning on what they call “Auto-tagging” to ensure that your Google Ads are reported on successfully within Google Analytics. It uses a Google Click Identifier to help Google Analytics better identify ads coming to the website from Google Ads. Additionally, activate your “Google Signals” to bring in information from Google Analytics into your Google Ads platforms. This enhances & activates additional capabilities within Google Ads for better targeting, reporting and insights.
Facebook's attribution modeling is based on multiple devices and multiple browsers. Whereas, by default, Google Analytics' attribution modeling is based on a single device and a single browser.
Once a user changes their device and/or browser Google Analytics will treat that same user as a new user.
However, this is not the case with Facebook since you're unable to use Facebook without logging in. Therefore, Facebook can provide cross-device tracking and effectively track users across different devices and browsers.
Furthermore, Facebook completely ignores all other marketing channels in your conversion path by using the last Facebook ad click/view attribution model. This gives 100% credit to the last ad clicked or viewed by the user for the conversion, giving all credit to the Facebook platform.
Also, Facebook attributes conversions based on a 24-hour view and 28-day click-through window.
For this reason, Google Analytics' Facebook sales data could significantly differ from the sales data that Facebook reports.
#2 Facebook May Show More Clicks Than Google Analytics
Sometimes Facebook shows more clicks and conversions attributed to your Facebook campaigns than Google Analytics shows for those same Facebook campaigns. This happens for several reasons:
- Users click your ads on Facebook and then close their browsers before your site has fully loaded. This results in your users' clicks being counted on Facebook but not in Google Analytics.
- The link on your Facebook ads is either broken or has been incorrectly entered into your Google Analytics UTM parameters. So some sessions may be attributed to a referral medium or a direct (not set) medium instead of being attributed to your Facebook campaign.
- Issues with your website or landing page tracking code occur and prevent sessions from being counted on your site's Google Analytics tool.
- Some sessions in your Google Analytics reports have accidentally been filtered.
- Visitors click your ads several times on different links.
- Lastly, a click on Facebook can be considered as any click on your ad, not necessarily a click to reach your site. Therefore, you might be looking at the wrong clicks column on Facebook.
#3 Which Analytics Tools Should You Actually Reference?
In order to make the best decisions and reach you and your clients' business goals you must be sure that you are relying on the correct data.
Since these analytics tools measure and attribute conversions in different ways, it's highly recommended that you use a neutral analytics tool that puts you in control of your data.
Using a neutral analytics tool lets you measure all of your conversions from all of your marketing channels in one easy-to-navigate dashboard.
This way you can uncover actionable data-driven insights that inform your marketing decisions and drive your campaign ROI.
By knowing why these discrepancies happen you can take full advantage of your data findings, come to the right conclusions, and present them to your clients with confidence.
And if you want to learn more about the metrics to watch for, get tips on what the data will tell you, and really "wow" your clients download our free eBook 5 ROI Metrics That Can Determine Marketing Success.