If you are running advertising through Google Ads, you have probably noticed reporting discrepancies between Google Ads and Google Analytics. If you do not understand these discrepancies and what can cause them, it can lead to frustration and ultimately a misunderstanding when it comes to the performance of your advertising campaigns.
Types of Reporting Discrepancies between Google Ads & Google Analytics
One of the most common reporting discrepancies people find between Google Ads and Google Analytics is the transaction data. This is when the number of sales and/or the revenue generated do not match between the two platforms.
You may also find reporting discrepancies with traffic reporting between the two platforms. The main reason for this discrepancy is a misunderstanding between ‘clicks’ which you will find in Google Ads compared to ‘sessions’ which you will find in Google Analytics.
1. Google Ads & Google Analytics Link
You may have a Google reporting discrepancy because your Google Ads and Google Analytics Accounts are not linked correctly. Therefore we suggest that you start by checking this.
2. Conversion Tracking Implementation
You should check that your conversion tracking has been set up correctly in both your Google Ads Account and Google Analytics Account. In some cases you may be tracking different types of conversions in each of the platforms. You should also check to make sure that your conversion tracking is not double (or even triple) counting.
3. Referral Exclusions
Referral traffic is the segment of traffic that arrives on your website through another source. One of the most common referral traffic sources that can cause a reporting discrepancy in transaction data between Google Ads and Google Analytics are payment gateways such as PayPal & AfterPay. These payment gateways take people away from the website to complete their transaction and the redirect back. This may result in the transaction may be associated with the payment gateway rather than the original source that the customer came through. You can implement referral exclusions to combat this issue.
Google Ads and Google Analytics tracking methods are slightly different and therefore may be the cause of the reporting discrepancies in conversion data. Google Ads attributes conversions to the last Google Ads Click (or whatever attribution model you have selected – more detail on this below) whereas Google Analytics uses last click attribution model across all channels (excluding direct). Google Ads also reports conversions against the date/time of the click that led to the successful conversion whereas Google Analytics will report this for the date/time when the conversion was actually completed.
5. Attribution Models in Google Ads
Google Ads attribution models allow you to select how much credit each click gets for a conversion. If you have selected a non-last click attribution model in Google Ads then this means that the data may not align with Google Analytics.
Why Understanding Discrepancies is Important
It is important for advertisers to understand the types of reporting discrepancies and what causes them so that they are able to make the right decisions about their advertising. If you understand the discrepancies then you can make more informed decisions based on the data. This generally leads to more efficient and effective advertising.