Facebook Ads and Google Analytics Discrepancy

Do you ever have a discrepancy between your Facebook ad metrics and third party analytics, such as Google Analytics? The good news is, you are NOT alone.


Recently I had 500+ “website clicks” on a small budget Facebook ad, but Google did not recognize more than 25% of those clicks. However, with a little research (see below), I was able to identify many of those “lost” clicks in my direct traffic results — all the clicks going to the specific page we promoted in the Facebook ad.

I took my questions to one of my social media groups and Michael Martinez, who has written about analytics issues for years, provided some very interesting feedback to us:

“Third party analytics cannot line up properly with original source data for a variety of reasons. Depending on who you listen to you might be willing to settle for a 5% to 10% discrepancy.


One of the common reasons different data sources disagree is that their days start at different times. Another reason is that browsers don’t always render the analytics code properly.


For example, if the analytics code is pasted near the bottom of the page and some users cannot load another script above the analytics code their browsers may hang and never finish executing scripts. This could happen for a LOT of technical reasons.


Another problem is more people are using script blocking plugins. And then many business networks filter content as it goes in and out (using HTTPS cannot prevent this from happening).


Your best bet is to track landing events through server side logs. They tell you what your Web server is actually seeing, although that means you won’t see what proxy servers are seeing.


There is really no perfect way to line up your tracking between two resources perfectly as your referral volume increases. The more people or robots who click on a link the more disagreement there is between analytics sources on who or what clicked.”

Did your head explode yet? That’s ok — there is another option. Try Megalytic’s approach outlined here.

“In Google Analytics, direct traffic is traffic for which a referrer wasn’t specified. GA gets the referral information from the HTTP header. However, if the HTTP header does not include a referrer field, then GA cannot figure out where the request is coming from.

For many reasons, traffic from Facebook ads often do not include a referrer, and that causes GA to classify the traffic as direct. So, in order to accurately classify traffic coming from Facebook, you need to take a different approach.”

Read the full post and you’ll see you can try creating a URL builder through Google.

Or, use the URL tag function in the Facebook ad manager or power editor. Then you can enter these specific URLs to your Google Analytics and track them that way.

This is not a perfect science (yet), but these steps should help you get a more accurate understanding of your Facebook ad data.

-Dan Grody, TGPR