Facebook Ads and Google Analytics data: Mismatch and Contradiction

While analyzing the activities and results of your marketing campaigns, you must have noticed that the Facebook Ads and Google Analytics data do not match. How is that possible for the same campaign? This might confuse any of us who do not know about these two dynamic platforms in detail.

And, if you do not know about these clearly, your marketer can dodge you with the wrong data and you would likely feel satisfied.

The data discrepancies may vary between 50-80%, which is huge. Your Facebook clicks and conversions seems to be entirely questionable after seeing the Google Analytics report for the same campaign.

Let’s see where is this difference coming from.

Before that, just check with the basic requirements of both the platforms to track your campaign activities.

Are you using Google UTM tags in your Facebook Ads?

You must use Google UTM tags for tracking your Facebook Ads traffic on Google Analytics.

Make sure you accurately fill up the fields of Source and Medium while setting up the tracking.

Have you set up the Facebook conversion tracking?

Facebook Ads and Google Analytics have a completely different way of reporting the data. Therefore, you must setup the Facebook conversion tracking, even if your Google Analytics goals are set up well.

Both are important to see the different aspects and understand the trend and performance of your campaign.

But, why does it happen?

Why does your Facebook Ads and Google Analytics data do not match with each other?

This difference comes because the metrics on both the platforms are quite different and people make the mistake of considering them same. Let’s take one factor at a time:

1. “All clicks” or “Link clicks”

Facebook reports you 2 kinds of clicks- All clicks and Link clicks.

“All clicks” are literally all clicks. It means, this number includes the link clicks, and the clicks that happened for other engagement activities like Likes & Shares.

“Link clicks” are just those clicks that took people through to your website or whatever landing page you included.

So, obviously, “All clicks” is a huge number as compared to what is reported on Google Analytics report.

2. “Facebook clicks” or “Google Analytics sessions”

Facebook has a simpler system of calculating the number of clicks on a Facebook Ad. Every click on that Ad is counted. Even if the same person clicks on the Facebook Ad link twice or more, all his clicks will be counted by Facebook as individual clicks.

Meanwhile, Google Analytics works smarter here.

A Google Analytics session is counted when a user clicks on the Ad and comes on your website. If that same user again comes to your website within 30 minutes, Google Analytics count is as one session only.

In fact, if the same user comes to your website multiple times by clicking on the Ad again and again, Facebook Ad or PPC Ad, or through organic search, and if all this happens within that window of 30 minutes, it is counted as “One Session” by Google Analytics.

For this user, Facebook must have recorded all the clicks on its Ad, considering them as individual clicks.

That’s the reason you see so high click numbers on Facebook Ad report and drastically low numbers on Google Analytics for the same campaign.

3. Google Analytics needs JavaScript, images and cookies to track user sessions

To record accurate sessions in Google Analytics, it requires the users to have JavaScript, images and cookies enabled on their browser. If the user has disabled all of these, the readings will not be correct as it cannot track the users then.

This is increasingly becoming difficult to track because people these days are not allowing cookies etc from new websites. This might be happening because of high privacy concerns and to avoid cyber crimes.

Well, Facebook does not require any of these to track the clicks. It simply counts it whenever someone clicks on the Ad.

Due to this difference, a lot of sessions are inaccurately recorded on Google Analytics. And, hence, the Facebook clicks show up huge numbers.

4. Google Analytics code needs to load

Whenever a user clicks through your Facebook Ad and reaches your website, the Google Analytics session is recorded only when it’s tracking code is triggered. This trigger happens when the website is loaded fully.

If the user clicks back or goes on to some other page before your website loads, the tracking code will not get triggered, and so, the session will not get recorded.

By this time, Facebook must have already recorded a click. For Facebook, it doesn’t matter if the website is loading fast and the user is actually spending time on the website. It simply counts that click.

5. Google Analytics sampling

Google Analytics prepares the report based on a sample data from the complete raw data. This means, NOT every website visit that happened due to the Facebook Ad got analysed here.

Since complete traffic coming from Facebook is not counted in Google Analytics report, the Facebook traffic number shown in its report will be different than what you’ll see in the Facebook Ads Manager.

6. Filter on Google Analytics profile

While viewing your Google Analytics report, check for the filters applied. Sometimes, you might block some features to be counted in the results.

For example, if you’ve blocked certain IP Addresses from showing up in the report, then you’ll not see the website visits happening from those IP Addresses.

On the other hand, Facebook doesn’t filter reports like this. So, clicks from anywhere will get counted.

These are few major, but not the only, reasons of the mismatch in the Facebook Ads and Google Analytics data.

There are some little factors that may affect the two readings, so I’m listing them below:

  • When your ad is clicked within the mobile app, sometimes its UTM tracking details are detached. Because of this, the real source cannot be recorded in Google Analytics, and it shows it as ‘Direct Traffic’.
  • If your Facebook Ad’s landing page is getting redirected to some other page, then high chances are that the second page doesn’t have the UTM tracking code. So, if the original landing page redirects to a new page even before triggering the UTM code, then the source won’t get recorded as your Facebook Ad.
  • If the time zones are differently set up for your Facebook Ad account and Google Analytics account, then there can be a mismatch in the data.
  • If the user is coming to your landing page several times from different sources like Facebook Ad, organic search, referral or anywhere, Google Analytics will show the source for this conversion as whatever was that user’s last source of reaching the landing page. On the other hand, Facebook Ads would attribute this to Facebook.
Ending Note

There will always be some mismatch, small and huge, between Facebook Ads and Google Analytics data. So, it’s nothing to be worried about, unless you know the reasons.

This is something our clients sometimes ask and become really concerned that how can a campaign get reported so differently on two platforms.

I hope this blog post must have answered a lot of your questions related to this.