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Conversion discrepancies between Google Ads and Google Analytics


Conversion discrepancies between Google Ads and Google Analytics

Google Ads and Google Analytics: Learn Why You See Conversion Discrepancies Between Google Ads and Google Analytics

Every marketer will make use of Google Analytics and Google Ads for campaign tracking at some point. Both platforms provide useful and good insights into the success or failure of your campaigns. However, if you are a seasoned marketer, you will notice that the data collected from Google Analytics and Google Ads is not always the same. In fact, due to the platforms using different attribution models and conversion counts, there are bound to be discrepancies.

We’ve put together a handy guide to some of the reasons why there are conversion discrepancies between Google Ads and Analytics.

Conversion Discrepancies Google Ads and Analytics: Different attribution models

One of the main reasons for the conversion discrepancies is due to Google Ads and Google Analytics using different attribution models.

  • Google Analytics uses two different attribution models. It uses the Last Click model for multi-channel funnels, which gives all credit for the conversion to the last click whether that be a paid ad, direct or organic search link. It also uses a non-direct click attribution model for non-channel funnel reports.
  • Google Ads gives credit to the ads and keywords that are clicked on the path to a conversion. It uses 6 different conversion attribution models to determine which ad and keyword should get the credit for the conversion. Your Google Ads account uses Time Decay which will give more credit to clicks that were closer in time to the conversion.

In way of an example, if a user clicks on one of your PPC ads, but later returns to your website via an organic search link and completes either a goal or e-commerce transaction, Google Ads will give credit to the PPC ad that was clicked, whereas Google Analytics will give the credit to the organic search.

In Google Analytics, the Google Ads conversion paths (ad group path, campaign path, keyword path) are all determined only on clicks. But, in Google Ads, the conversion paths are based on both click and impressions.


Image showing the Attribution Model Tracking Differences between Google Ads, Analytics and Transactions


Different conversion date/time stamp

Another discrepancy between Google Analytics and Google Ads is that they can report the same conversion at different dates or times.

  • Google Analytics will report a conversion on the day it happens.
  • Google Ads will report a conversion on the day, or days, the ad was clicked before the conversion.

This means that date ranges are near impossible to compare between the two platforms. For example, if a user clicks on a PPC ad on the 6th March and then completes the transaction on 10th March, Google Analytics will report the conversion on 10th March, but Google Ads will set the conversion to 6th March.

Different conversion rate

In Google Analytics, the goal conversion rate is based on the Goals you have set for a particular view, and the sessions that are recorded for that particular view. So, filtered views can reveal large discrepancies between Google Analytics and Google Ads. In Google Ads, the goal conversion rate is based on the Goals you have set through the Google Ads conversion tracking code. Or the goals that have been imported from Google Analytics, plus the clicks recorded for these goals.

Difference in reporting freshness

Google Analytics and Google Ads have differences in reporting freshness. Google Ads conversion tracking numbers are reflected sooner (usually within 3 hours) in Google Ads than imported transactions/goals from Google Analytics into Google Ads (typically within 9 hours.)

Different conversion count

In Google Analytics, a goal completion is recorded just once per user session. But, in Google Ads, a goal completion can be counted many times for every ad click.

For example, if one of your goals is a file download, Google Analytics will record a goal completion for one file download in a given session. No matter how many times the user downloads this file in that session. Conversely, in Google Ads, if a file download is set as a goal conversion, it will count a goal completion each time a user downloads the file following an ad click. Even if they are in the same session.


Image showing the Conversion Tracking Differences between Google Ads, Analytics and Transactions


Flexible conversion counting

In Google Ads, it allows you to count conversions relating to your marketing goals using flexible conversion counting. This means that for any conversion action in Google Ads, you can opt to count every conversion that happened following an ad click. Or just one conversion that happened following an ad click.

For example, if you are looking to track the number of sales, it would be best to count each transaction that occurred after a click on an ad. If you’d prefer to track leads, you should count only one lead conversion that occurred after a click on your ad.

Google Analytics does not provide this flexible option, which can lead to discrepancies.

Differences in transaction numbers (Conversion Discrepancies Google Ads and Analytics)

Due to the flexible conversion counting feature in Google Ads, there is a chance that some transactions that are recorded in Google Analytics are missed off on Google Ads reporting.

For example, when a user clicks on an ad and then makes two different transactions, Google Ads will usually report just one order. Whereas Google Analytics will record two.

But, if Google Analytics tracking code does not fire, Google Analytics will not record the user’s transaction – but Google Ads will.

Session Tracking

Another conversion discrepancy centres around session tracking. Google Analytics can sometimes fail to record a session where the user has blocked certain activity, such as cookies tracking. Therefore, a conversion may not be recorded, however it could still be recorded by Google Ads via the conversion pixel. Plus, Google Ads only record clicks and credits all conversion metrics to those. So the ad clicks data may not always match Google Analytics sessions.

URL Tracking

Google Ads can only track clicks on ads, whereas Google Analytics can provide post-click data and activities. To get the best picture of user behaviours, it’s best to link the two accounts. To do this you will need to tag your ad URLs to ensure proper tracking takes place.

PPC Geeks: Conversion Discrepancies Google Ads and Analytics

At PPC Geeks we can help you manage your PC campaigns and are offering you a 100% free Google Ads Audit, so you can see how your campaigns stack up against your competitors. Get in touch with a member of our team today to see how we could help.



Kate Graham

Kate has 10+ years’ experience driving high-quality and results-focused campaigns. Having an extensive background in all aspects of PPC and Paid Social marketing management.

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