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Data discrepancies between AdWords and Analytics

Reasons of discrepancy between AdWords and Analytics data

AdWords is from Mars and Analytics is from Venus, as funny this may sound its a fact. And despite the fact that they are both happily(?) married to each other for years and will remain married, the fact remains both have different ways of tracking and will never agree on data 100%. So essentially if you are married you will find this article a lot easier to understandSmiley Tongue.

 

I still remember when I started working in AdWords / Analytics, I spent several hours pulling my hair on this subject. I was asked this question by almost every client I have handled so far and I think the same applies to all the search managers.

 

This is a tricky subject and before we start a word of caution, we are going to discuss probable reasons for discrepancy between AdWords and Analytics data but AdWords and Analytics data will never match 100% because of different tracking methods and cookie life. (This article is meant for Google Analytics but most of this should apply to Universal Analytics as well)

 

Here are top reasons for discrepancies

  1. Discrepancy between clicks and visits:
    1. GA code not being present / Not firing on landing page, this may sound stupid but this happens a lot more than you imagine and its a good idea to check if you have GA code on all your landing pages. This will mean that click is measured in AdWords but no visit is recorded in Analytics
    2. Firewall blocking GA.js this is unlikely to happen on personal network, but I have experienced firewalls of finance and IT companies blocking GA.js for security purposes. This will mean that click is measured in AdWords but no visit is recorded in Analytics
    3. Gclid query parameter issue: Make sure your landing page still works after passing gclid query string parameter. You can test it by adding ?gclid=whatever at the end of your landing page URL. If you landing page already has “?” in the URL then you should add &gclid=whatever at the end of landing page URL. If this shows error or doesn’t load your landing page then again a click will be recorded in AdWords but Analytics wont record the visit.
    4. Invalid Clicks: AdWords will filter clicks which seem fraudulent (where same user is clicking on your ads several times in shot time span) but Analytics will still record the visit.
    5. Javascript / images disabled by user: Although chances of this are highly unlikely this might happen and if user has turned off JS and / Or images the click will be recorded in AdWords but visit will not be recorded in Analytics
    6. Server latency: I love using these technical words J feels so cool, doesn’t it? Basically this means your server is slow as hell and is not firing analytics tag before user leaves the landing page.
  2. Discrepancy between AdWords conversions and Analytics goal completions
    1. Cross domain tracking not working: AdWords conversion code works on 3rd party cookie and is not domain specific. But analytics needs cross domain tracking to be enabled if your goal completion is not happening on same domain where your landing page is located
    2. Different conversion windows: In AdWords you can chose your window from 7 to 90 days from last visit and Analytics goal completion window is set by default at 180 days from last visit.
    3. Different attribution models: AdWords will give attribution to AdWords click during the set conversion window irrespective of other sources which may be involved during conversion. Analytics by default will attribute goal completion to last non direct source. For example User clicks on your ad on 1st January >> visits website and exits >> he visits website again via referral link on 5th of January and converts. AdWords will attribute conversion to AdWords click and Analytics will attribute goal completion to referral.
    4. Different Attribution for conversion date: AdWords attributes the conversion to click date while Analytics attributes goal completion to actual conversion date. For example User clicks on your ad on 1st January >> visits website and exits >> he visits website again via referral link on 5th of January and converts. AdWords will show conversion for 1st January and Analytics will show Conversion for 5th January

I have tried to write down major reasons behind discrepancy between AdWords and Analytics and I would like to urge users to post their real life discrepancy scenarios to make this article a complete source on AdWords v/s Analytics discrepancies.

 

 

about Nikhil Parachure

Digital Marketing / Web & App Analytics expert with experience ranging from small businesses to very large portals. Across varied verticals like banking, travel, ecommerce, insurance. Google Adwords top contributor since 2013 and currently working with a leading Indian ecommerce portal. Aspiring writer, wants to be lighter!

Comments
Neha Gupta Top Contributor
March 2014

Nik, Great Article! Thanks for sharing with us!

vkore91
March 2014

Thanks for sharing, Nik!

Avijit D
March 2014

Some times filtered location clicks can reduce the analytics paid visitor number but those clicks will be shown in adwords as click and conversion too.

 

Nice article

theniks
March 2014

Hi Avijit,

I am not sure I understand your point can you please explain?

 

Trevor_Stewart Top Contributor
April 2014

Nice Post Nik!! Great read thanks for sharing

Abraham A
May 2015

Hey Nick,

 

You hit the nail on the head.

 

#Etiboy

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