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Why does conversion data not align between Google Analytics and AdWords?

Tracking the success of your paid and organic search campaigns has undoubtedly been simplified by Google AdWords and Google Analytics. However, in some cases, the conversion results across both don’t always marry up.

Providing troubleshooting tips to help you get to the bottom of the discrepancies is our Data Analyst Rachel McGuigan:

Attribution:

When it comes to attribution, AdWords records the last AdWords click only, while Analytics uses last attribution click.

For example, a user visits your site through a paid ad on day one before leaving. On day two, the same user arrives on your site this time via organic search. On this visit, the user completes a goal.

In this scenario, Analytics would attribute this goal completion to organic. At the same time, AdWords would assign the conversion to the corresponding AdWords campaign that was used to reach the site on day one.

This means that the number of conversions recorded in Google Analytics and AdWords may not always match.

Date of Transaction:

In AdWords, conversions are assigned to the date the user first accessed the site via a paid ad. With Analytics, the conversion is assigned to the date when the goal is completed.

Based on our example above, Analytics would record the goal completion on day two — when the conversion takes place. However, AdWords would record this goal on day one, when the paid search ad is used to visit the site.

For this reason, daily goal completion numbers may not align between Google Analytics and AdWords.

One Conversion vs Every Conversion for Goals

When setting up AdWords conversions, you can choose to count either a unique conversion only or every conversion. In Google Analytics, however, each conversion is only counted once per session.

For example, you set up a goal for PDF downloads. A user visits your site through a paid ad and downloads three PDF files.

In Analytics, this would be recorded as one paid conversion. However, if AdWords was set up to count every conversion, it would be recorded as three conversions. If AdWords has been set up to count unique conversions only, then it would also only record one conversion.

Conversion Look Back Window

Similar to the Date of Transaction functionality, AdWords has a conversion look back window which is set to 30 days as standard (but can be extended to a longer period). This means AdWords will attribute the conversion to the date the campaign ad was clicked, with a look back window of 30 days.

On the other hand, Analytics will attribute the goal completion to the date of the purchase.

Therefore, if you are looking at conversion or revenue figures within this 30-day conversion window, you are likely to see a discrepancy between Analytics and AdWords figures.

If you’re unsure, use a month comparison, which would no longer be affected by this conversion window.

Conversion Value

In both AdWords and Analytics, you can assign a value to a conversion. Make sure that each conversion in both AdWords and Analytics has been assigned the same conversion values. Also check that you are comparing the same conversion sets for the period.

If this is not the case, the discrepancy could be a result of the difference between the conversion value within Analytics and the All Conversion Value in AdWords.

Other Considerations

Hopefully, this blog post has given you some food for thought about why you’re seeing discrepancies between your AdWords and Analytics. If you’re still having problems, ask yourself the following:

  • Are you pulling in all your conversions from the correct reporting view? You need to make sure you’re comparing the right goals, as it could be possible that some of the conversion definitions within different views are no longer relevant.
  • Are your goals duplicates of each other? In Google Analytics, you may have a goal setup for a checkout success along with your ecommerce tracking. However, you don’t need to pull in this conversion along with the default transaction conversion into AdWords – only one should be imported.
Working closely with our paid and organic search teams, our insight team can extract the information you need from your data. For more information, contact us using the form below.

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