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Here's why there's a difference between stats of a Facebook ad campaign & Google Analytics

Discussion in 'Facebook' started by abradabra, Jul 7, 2015.

  1. abradabra

    abradabra Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

    Apr 14, 2013
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    When you surf the web, things feel completely straightforward. You click here, bam, you're there. Simple. It's natural to expect that any two systems that measure clicks on the clicked side and visits on the visited side would be in complete agreement with each other.

    They never, ever are.

    Behind the scenes, a simple click on a web link (in an ad or otherwise) triggers a small firestorm of events. You get redirected once, twice or sixteen times without knowing it. Pixels fire all over the place. Counters count and spam filters filter and aggregators aggregate data into hourly and daily metrics based on local clocks and time zones.

    Miraculously, the numbers are sometimes kind of similar.

    When you say "traffic stats", do you mean unique visitors? Sessions? Conversions? All of these are measured differently by both sides and are often distinct for a whole host of different reasons.

    Discrepancies up to 15% are considered routine and you'll just have to learn to live with them. Discrepancies consistently above that rough threshold may indicate an incorrect implementation of some sort, but nobody can debug this for you without looking at the specifics of your site and campaigns.

    If you're driving traffic to your site using Facebook ads, Facebook can tell when a user clicked the link in the ad but it has no way of knowing what happened afterwards. Did the page actually load? Did the user wait for it to load or did they give up and went somewhere else? Does the user enable cookies? JavaScript? Your web analytics system will count a session or a conversion only after certain criteria are met, and Facebook mostly can't tell if they were.

    Furthermore, Facebook filters out as invalid certain ad impressions and clicks that it deems fake, spammy or repetitive. This may cause its click counts to be lower than the stats reported on your site (as opposed to the page load issues I mentioned before, which would cause it to be higher).

    On your website, how are you determining which traffic is attributed to Facebook ads? Raw referrer URL is a pretty poor method. Are you using unique modified URLs in your ads? Are they implemented correctly? Are you using any third party traffic system? If you use more than one you will almost surely find that the disagree to some degree.

    What time ranges are you comparing? If you're looking at hourly or daily or even weekly data, time zone differences may cause huge discrepancies.

    Those are just a small sample of some of the reasons you will be seeing differences. There are many others. Nobody can tell what the cause is in your particular case without knowing anything about your particular case.

    **The article first appeared on Quora & written by Alon Amit, ex-Facebook & Google Product Manager. Original Link
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