Why Does My Google Analytics Not Match Your Advertising Network’s Numbers?

Why Does My Google Analytics Not Match Your Advertising Network’s Numbers?

This is a question we hear quite often from our clients. Some background… Typically a client comes to us to advertise their products and services on our network. They deliver us the collateral complete with their Google UTM codes built into their landing page URL links. The campaign runs and we supply the client with a performance report at the end of the month that shows impressions, total clicks, unique clicks, etc. The client then compares our report with their GA report. Typically, the industry standard is a delta of 10% when comparing numbers from two separate ad servers, but keep in mind, GA is different. When reviewing our report, the client notices that our click numbers are much higher than what GA is showing on their side – sometimes 6X or even 8X greater. “How is this possible?”, the client will ask. Let’s explore…

Google records “Sessions” not Clicks.

How our ad server (and most ad servers in general) records clicks VS. how Google identifies a “session” are different and the issues revolve around the user’s browser and whether or not it allows cookies, JavaScript, images, etc. Vici Media has a great article on this topic: Vici Article

More and more people are disabling cookies and JavaScript. And, in order for Google Analytics to work, the user must accept cookies. Google Analytics uses one tracking method to track website visitors, which requires JavaScript and cookies. Each visitor is uniquely identified, and a tracking request is sent back to Google Analytics’ data collectors for every action performed on the site, unless the JavaScript or tracking request is blocked by a browser, firewall or proxy filter. MediaPost has a great article that talks about this in particular and shows a study that reports 64% of cookies are currently being blocked. How accurate can GA be if 64% of what the software relies on for reporting is blocked? Media Post Article.

Another consideration here… If 64% of all users block cookies (which GA relies on), what percentage of our audience, which is Entirely made up of Software Developers and IT Professionals block cookies? It has got to be higher, right? Throw GDPR in the mix and the water gets muddier.

What’s the takeaway here? Trust your advertising partner. “If the numbers are Consistently, Inconsistent”, the numbers are probably solid. One thing that we do here at Effectus Media, is ask our clients to put our ad server’s pixels on the Landing and Thank You pages for the campaign we’re running. With this highly educated and technical audience, we find that if they see something that interests them, they may not click on the ad, (they don’t want to be tracked), but find their way to the landing page by opening a new browser window and going direct, i.e. allowing us to quantify traffic based on viewability with said pixels and in turn, making the media buyer’s life a little easier when having to show results to the boss for that marketing budget they spent with us.

I’d love to hear if you’ve experienced this with your advertising efforts and how you manage it. Have questions? Want to chat about current or future advertising campaigns? Drop us a line. We’re here to help.

“The Best Way To Find Out If You Can Trust Somebody Is To Trust Them”. Ernest Hemingway