Analytics Data And PPC

If you use a pay per click campaign as part of your online marketing efforts, you should be tracking and analysing all your data, and you’re all doing that, right? If you are, then you might have noticed that your PPC dashboard numbers don’t necessarily match your analytics dashboard data. In this article, we’ll suggest a couple of reasons why it might be happening.

When Data Disagrees

If you’re managing a PPC campaign and using analytics to measure your conversions, report goals, or deliver any other kind of data comparison, then it’s important to know what’s causing any kind of discrepancy.

The following are a few issues which may lead to mistakes in your data gathering when you’re tracking PPC through your web analytics.

Tracking URLs

It could happen that your tracking URLs are not correctly implemented. This isn’t necessarily a matter of not having included tracking code (although that can be part of it). Missing characters, different campaign names and other misplaced variables will all cause inaccurate PPC reporting. So it’s important to get these right. If you have Adwords linked to your analytics, turning on the “auto-tagging” function can help avoid these problems.

Visitor / Click Difference

One potential problem is that PPC data tends to track according to clicks on your ad, while your analytics account tracks visitors to the page. This measure can be affected by (among other things), disabled javascript, cookie blocking, and navigating away from a page before ga.js file can be executed. It leads to your PPC dashboard reporting more clicks than analytics does visitors.

Invalid Clicks

Adwords or Adsense has a built in feature that automatically adjusts the count of clicks where the same IP registers multiple clicks in a short interval. This is to protect advertisers from malicious clicks, and to try and preserve the integrity of the system. While Google Adwords will adjust your clicks downward to counter such events, Google Analytics does not. As a result, you may see higher page views and total visits.

Third Party Redirects

Third party ad-tracking systems such as Doubleclick usually redirect your ad to their server, and from there to your home page. This can cause tracking issues, especially when a second “?” is added to your URL, which breaks the rule against multiple “?’s”. It is possible to work around this, but we suggest checking this URL Encoding Reference.

Data Import Lags

In Google Analytics, your Adwords cost data is imported only every 24 hours. This means that there will usually be a 24 hour gap between your Adwords cost data, and your Analytics cost data.

In Conclusion

It’s important to understand these potential causes of non-correlating data, to enable you to make allowances for discrepancies, and make effective decisions based on your analytics data.