A recurring headache I continue to hear among paid social media marketing and advertising organizations relates to the discrepancies between Facebook and Google Analytics.
Users seem to be having a really hard time matching up the interactions of campaigns on Facebook (and subsequent engagements) with what other analytics platforms inform them (including Google Analytics).
In some cases, these discrepancies have been believed (by some of our users) to be caused by systemic click fraud perpetrated by Facebook. While we don’t believe that, we do see highly inflated analytics reported by Facebook that, no matter how we slice the data, will never match our Google Analytics KPIs. These data discrepancies are creating a clear problem and it’s costing organizations heavily. In one case, failure to understand these discrepancies between clicks and real conversions in real time cost a small business over $600,000. (See: This Man’s $600,000 Facebook Disaster is A Warning For All Small Businesses)
In the ideal world, you would use a third party tool to align the two platforms perfectly but, since platforms use different measurement techniques, and third party tools do not allow you to customize how data is calculated, aligning them is pretty much impossible. This is why 95% of users end up using spreadsheets to build their data reports.
The good news is that you can prevent going down the wrong path with real-time data analysis and quick reactions using Factivate. You can download one of the Factivate spreadsheet templates and start tracking this data with just a few clicks.
With a real-time feed from Facebook and Google, you will be able to quickly fix the problem before it becomes too massive. So, for example, if you start to see referrals in Analytics become vastly different from the click throughs Facebook is reporting, Factivate can alert you of the discrepancy so that you can act right away. To get started, you can view one of Factivate’s Facebook Ads and Google Analytics spreadsheet templates by going here and signing up for an account.
Here are the top 7 reasons why your data is different:
1. You are using different measurment windows
By default, Facebook sets the window to one-day after an ad was viewed. If this isn’t what you want to track, then you can either change your spreadsheet formulas to reflect the correct measurement window or change your settings.
2. You believe clicks from Google and Facebook are the same
Facebook does not measure conversions on a last click basis, as opposed to Google. In Facebook’s case, even if you created a campaign using URL parameters and pixels to track the link used in your ad, Facebook will not do it the same way you do.
What’s worse is that Total ‘clicks’ as reported by Facebook might not necessarily be representative of the total clicks on your ad. Facebook clicks include things like expanding descriptions, clicking to read comments, page likes, as well as post likes, comments and shares (there are others too).
As such, focusing on ‘clicks’ is perhaps not the best measurement of direct engagement performance. If you create a ratio for FB clicks, you might have a more approximate # to Google Analytics, but even then, you should really stay away from this vanity metric.
3. You have pixel implementation issues
There are a number of possible issues that you should check before giving up:
- Check whether your raw pixel fires match
- If you’re using conditional firing, expect a small discrepancy
- Check your currency, decimal places, and other variables in your purchase event codes
- Use the Pixel Helper tool to check for duplicate pixel fires
- Check that you’re not “pixel piggybacking on existing tag managers
Facebook provides a pretty good description of these issues here.
4. You have cross-device tracking issues
Conversions on mobile phones and tablets aren’t always tracked by cookie based analytics platforms. Facebook does provide cross-device reports that help improve visibility but there are always going to be issues.
5. Check on your Google Analytics
It’s worth noting that you should check your Analytics setup if discrepancies are popping up. Make sure everything is working as it should, your conversion funnels are pointing to the right pages, etc.
6. Your site is slow
If your site takes forever to load, you will likely have a high bounce rate beetween the ad click and the load time. The longer it takes, the more people bail out. If your analytics tags don’t fire immediately then there’s going to be a reporting issue.
Additionally, some users might even click on the ad multiple times if all they see is a blank loading page.
7. Your time zones are not the same
Check that both your Facbeook and analytics platform are both set to the same time zone and reporting period.
The beauty about tracking this data inside your Factivate spreadsheet is that you can nos start creating cross-channeled metrics and recommendation ratios. Consider building these as you gain a better understanding of your historical data.
Factivate is a software company part of the Google for Entrepreneurs community in Durham, NC. Factivate provides business users with a cloud-based data analytics platform that can sync with different online tools to create automated, real-time spreadsheet reports and web dashboards with just-in-time business reactions. The result of our intelligent spreadsheet is accurate data analysis that drives better business decisions while reducing manual spreadsheet report time and errors by a factor of 150+ hours/employee/year. Factivate requires no learning curve or programming knowledge. In sharp contrast to the complex and expensive business intelligence tools on the market today, if you know spreadsheets, then you know 95% of what you need to use Factivate–we’ve got the rest covered.