Difference between Google Ads (AdWords) and Google Analytics Conversion Tracking

The conversions (goal completions and e-commerce transactions) reported by Google Ads (AdWords) could be vastly different from the conversions reported by Google Analytics, as they both use different tracking methods.

#1 Google Analytics and Google Ads use different attribution models

Google Analytics and Google Ads use different attribution models.

Google Analytics uses two different attribution models. GA uses the last non-direct click attribution model for non-multi channel funnel reports and the last click model for multi-channel funnel reports. Whereas Google Ads uses the last AdWords click’ attribution model in which the last Google Ads click in a conversion path gets all the credit for the conversion.

The use of different attribution models alone can create a discrepancy in conversion data between Google Ads and Google Analytics.

For example, if a user clicks on your Google ad and then later return to your website via organic search to complete a goal then Google Ads will give credit for the conversion to the last Google Ads click whereas Google Analytics will give the credit for the conversion to organic search.

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

#2 Goal conversion rate is calculated differently between Google Ads and Google Analytics

The Goal conversion rate in GA is based on the Goals you have defined for a particular view and the sessions recorded for that view.

So filtered views can create huge data discrepancy between Google Ads and analytics.

The goal conversion rate in Google Ads is based on the Goals you have defined via the Google Ads conversion tracking code or the goals you imported from Analytics and the clicks/video views recorded for the goals.

#3 Goal conversion counting is different between Google Ads and Google Analytics

In Google Analytics, a goal completion is counted only once per user session. Whereas in Google Ads a goal completion can be counted many times per ad click.

So if a file download is one of your goals then google analytics will count only one file download as a goal completion in a given session no matter how many times a user downloads the file in the same session. Whereas in Google Ads, if file download is one of your goals then Google Ads can count goal completion each time the user downloads the file after an ad click, even in the same session.

In Google Ads conversion tracking, there is no concept of user sessions.

Moreover, Google Analytics counts conversions from all traffic sources and mediums. Whereas Google Ads count only those conversions which resulted from Google ad clicks/video ad views.

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#4 Flexible conversion counting in Google Ads can create data discrepancies between Google Ads and Google Analytics

In Google Ads, you can count conversions according to your business and marketing goals through flexible conversion counting.

So for any conversion action (user action that leads to conversion) in Google Ads, you can choose to count every conversion that occurred after an ad click or only one conversion that occurred after an ad click.

For example, if you want to track sales, then you would prefer to count every sales/transaction that happened after a click on your ad. Consequently, you will set your count option to ‘Every’ while setting up a conversion in Google Ads:

conversion count

If however, you want to track leads, then you would prefer to count only one lead conversion that happened after a click on your ad (unique leads).

Consequently, you will set your count option to ‘one’ while setting up a conversion in Google Ads:

one conversion

Google Analytics does not provide flexible conversion counting, which can create a difference between Google Ads and analytics goals data.

#5 Certain transactions are recorded in Google Analytics but not in Google Ads and vice versa

Because of the flexible conversion counting feature of Google Ads, there is a possibility that certain transactions that are recorded in Google Analytics are not recorded and reported by Google Ads.

For example, if a user clicks on an ad and then place two different orders, then Google Ads may report only one order (if the conversion count is set to one) whereas Google Analytics reports two orders.

Similarly, if Google Analytics tracking code does not fire for some reason (maybe it is disabled by a user), then, in that case, Google Analytics won’t record and report the user’s transaction but Google Ads will still count and report such transaction.

Test transactions, reverse transactions and refund data can all create data discrepancies between Google Ads and analytics conversions data.

Test transactions – it is common for developers to place test transactions on a website during testing. These transactions are often recorded and reported by Google Analytics but not by Google Ads.

Reverse transactions – in Google Analytics, you can reverse a transaction which is not possible in Google Ads.

Refund data – in Google Analytics you can import refund data which is not possible in Google Ads.

#6 Invalid ad clicks and invalid conversions in Google Ads

Google Ads can discount invalid clicks and all the conversions which occurred as a result of such clicks.

This is not the case with Google Analytics. GA can still report on the conversions resulted from invalid Google ad clicks.

#7 Google Analytics data sampling issues

Data sampling issues in your Google Analytics account can very easily skew your analytics data and can create a huge difference between reported conversion data in Google Analytics and Google Ads.

#8 Date of conversion

Google Analytics and Google Ads can report the same conversion on a different day and time.

Google analytics report conversion on the day it happens. Whereas Google Ads reports conversion on the day, the ad was last clicked prior to conversion.

For example, let’s say someone clicked on your Google ad on July 1 and then made a purchase on July 2.

Now both Google Ads and Google Analytics will not report any conversion on July 1.

However, on July 2, Google analytics will report the conversion.

But Google Ads will not report any conversion for July 2. Instead, it will now report the conversion for July 1.

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#9 Conversion data freshness

Conversions recorded via Google Ads conversion tracking code are updated faster in Google Ads (usually within 3 hours) than the conversions imported to your Google Ads account from Google Analytics.

The imported conversion data can take up to 9 hours to reflect on the Google Ads reports. Because of this reason, the conversion data between Google Ads and analytics can be temporarily out of sync.

#10 Not all Google Ads conversions can be tracked in Google Analytics

There are certain categories of conversions that can not be tracked in GA at present.

For example, the following Google Ads conversions can not be tracked in GA at present:

#1 Cross-account conversions – these are the conversions that resulted from your ads created in multiple Google Ads account.

#2 Phone call conversions – conversions that resulted from phone call extensions or phone numbers embedded on your website.

#3 View-through conversions – conversions that resulted from the viewing (impression) of your video/display ad. For example, a person saw your ad (but not clicked it) and then later completed a conversion on your website, which can be counted as a view-through conversion in Google Ads.

#4 Cross-device conversions – the conversions which resulted from an ad click on a different device. For example, a person clicks on your ad, on one device and then later completed a conversion on your website via a different device, which can be counted as a cross-device conversion in Google Ads.

#5 Cross browser conversions – the conversions which resulted from an ad click on a different web browser. For example, a person clicks on your ad, on one web browser and then later completed a conversion on your website via a different web browser, can be counted as a cross-browser conversion in Google Ads. Cross browsers conversions are included in ‘All Conversions’ in Google Ads and are not reported separately.

#6 Store visits conversions – the conversions which resulted from a visit to your physical store (shop, hotel, restaurant, etc) after a click on your Google ad.

To learn about other differences between Google Analytics and Google Ads data, read the article: Why Google Ads and Google Analytics data don’t match & how to fix it

 

Do you know the difference between Web Analytics and Google Analytics?


99.99% of course creators themselves don’t know the difference between Web analytics, Google Analytics (GA) and Google Tag Manager (GTM).

So they are teaching GA and GTM in the name of teaching Web analytics.

They just copy each other. Monkey see, monkey do.

But Web analytics is not about GA, GTM.

It is about analyzing and interpreting data, setting up goals, strategies and KPIs.

It’s about creating strategic roadmap for your business.


Web Analytics is the core skill. Google Analytics is just a tool used to implement ‘Web Analytics’.

You can also implement ‘Web analytics’ via other tools like ‘adobe analytics’, ‘kissmetrics’ etc.

Using Google Analytics without the good understanding of ‘Web analytics’ is like driving around in a car, in a big city without understanding the traffic rules and road signs.

You are either likely to end up somewhere other than your destination or you get involved in an accident.


You learn data analysis and interpretation from Web analytics and not from Google Analytics.

The direction in which your analysis will move, will determine the direction in which your marketing campaigns and eventually your company will move to get the highest possible return on investment.

You get that direction from ‘Web analytics’ and not from ‘Google Analytics’.


You learn to set up KPIs, strategies and measurement framework for your business from ‘Web analytics’ and not from ‘Google Analytics’.

So if you are taking a course only on 'Google Analytics’, you are learning to use one of the tools of ‘Web analytics’. You are not learning the ‘Web analytics’ itself.

Since any person can learn to use Google Analytics in couple of weeks, you do no get any competitive advantage in the marketplace just by knowing GA.

You need to know lot more than GA in order to work in Web analytics and marketing field.


So what I have done, if you are interested, is I have put together a completely free training that will teach you exactly how I have been able to leverage web/digital analytics to generate floods of news sales and customers and how you can literally copy what I have done to get similar results.

Here what You'll Learn On This FREE Web Class!


1) Why digital analytics is the key to online business success

2) The number 1 reason why most marketers are not able to scale their advertising and maximize sales.

3) Why Google and Facebook ads don’t work for most businesses & how to make them work.

4) Why you won’t get any competitive advantage in the marketplace just by knowing Google Analytics.


5) The number 1 reason why conversion optimization is not working for your business.

6) How to advertise on any marketing platform for FREE with an unlimited budget.

7) How to learn and master digital analytics and conversion optimization in record time.

 
 

My best selling books on Digital Analytics and Conversion Optimization

Maths and Stats for Web Analytics and Conversion Optimization
This expert guide will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of maths and statistics in order to accurately interpret data and take actions, which can quickly improve the bottom-line of your online business.

Master the Essentials of Email Marketing Analytics
This book focuses solely on the ‘analytics’ that power your email marketing optimization program and will help you dramatically reduce your cost per acquisition and increase marketing ROI by tracking the performance of the various KPIs and metrics used for email marketing.

Attribution Modelling in Google Analytics and Beyond
Attribution modelling is the process of determining the most effective marketing channels for investment. This book has been written to help you implement attribution modelling. It will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of attribution modelling in order to allocate marketing budget and understand buying behaviour.

Attribution Modelling in Google Ads and Facebook
This book has been written to help you implement attribution modelling in Google Ads (Google AdWords) and Facebook. It will teach you, how to leverage the knowledge of attribution modelling in order to understand the customer purchasing journey and determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

Himanshu Sharma

Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of Optimizesmart.com

Himanshu helps business owners and marketing professionals in generating more sales and ROI by fixing their website tracking issues, helping them understand their true customers' purchase journey and helping them determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

He has over 12 years of experience in digital analytics and digital marketing.

He was nominated for the Digital Analytics Association's Awards for Excellence. The Digital Analytics Association is a world-renowned not-for-profit association that helps organisations overcome the challenges of data acquisition and application.

He is the author of four best-selling books on analytics and conversion optimization:

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