If you’ve used Google Analytics to gather insights about your Facebook ads you may have noticed that your reports show conflicting data. The good news is you’re not crazy. The bad news is you could be making optimizations based on inaccurate information. Or worse under reporting conversions to your clients.

You may want to know what’s causing these discrepancies so you can fix the problem. You can’t.

The only way to accurately measure your Facebook data is through Facebook reporting itself – Here’s why:

1. Cross Device Conversions

Facebook has the ability to track a conversion back to a unique user across all devices as long as they are logged into their Facebook account. Google Analytics uses cookies to track conversions. For a conversion to be counted the user must convert using the same device and browser they used to click the ad.

For example: If someone clicks an ad on their mobile device, and then completes a purchase on their personal computer Facebook will count this as a conversion. With cookies based tracking there is no way to attribute the purchase back to the ad, they interacted with.

2. Impressions Tracking

Facebook does not require the user to click an ad for it to be counted as a conversion. If someone sees or interacts with your ad and within decides to purchase within 24 hours of viewing the ad Facebook will count that conversion.

Since google analytics is tracking cookies the user has to click the intended link within the ad for it to be counted as a conversion.

3. Referral URLs

If you are setting up UTM parameters to track conversions, and your website is still using HTTP your conversions may be under reported. When someone clicks an ad on Facebook and then converts on an HTTP site, they referrer cannot be recorded since they left an HTTPS environment.

About 40% of users browse Facebook using HTTPS, so you could potentially under report 40% of conversions.

4. Clicks Vs. Sessions

Comparing clicks with sessions is like comparing apples to oranges. Facebook uses a different methodology to calculate clicks than Google Analytics uses to calculate sessions.

Here’s a couple examples on how these numbers could differ.

  • If a user clicks your Facebook post more than once in a 30-minute window, Google Analytics only tracks this as one session. Facebook will register this as 2 clicks.
  • If a user clicks your Facebook post and visits your site, becomes inactive for more than 30 minutes, and then re-engages with your website after 30 minutes, Google will record this as 2 separate sessions. Facebook will report this as only one click.

5. Ad Blockers

More users are looking to ad blockers and other methods to protect their data and privacy. Google Analytics code requires the user to have Javascript, images, and cookies enabled. When those are disabled or “blocked” Google Analytics is no longer able to track that users activity. Facebook, however, does not require Javascript, images or cookies to track a user. This is another scenario in which you could be under reporting your conversions with Google Analytics.

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