14 reasons for discrepancies in AdWords conversions and conversions in Google Analytics

The data from Google AdWords and Google Analytics often do not match correctly. This not only affects sessions and clicks , but also the measured conversions and the conversion rate. You can find out how this comes about here.

Reasons for different conversions in Google Analytics and AdWords

There are many reasons for different numbers. Here is a list of the most common reasons:

  1. Different definition of conversions in AdWords and Google Analytics
  2. In AdWords only hits via AdWords are considered, in Analytics all sources are considered
  3. Different counting of the conversion rate in AdWords and Google Analytics
  4. Different time allocation (clicks vs. conversions)
  5. Different counting methods for conversions
  6. Different counting of transactions
  7. Not all AdWords conversions can be counted in GA
  8. Google Analytics tracking code is not loaded on the landing page
  9. Test transactions, refunds, returns
  10. Achievements caused by invalid clicks are filtered out in AdWords
  11. Different period of validity of cookies
  12. Different attribution models (last click vs. last AdWords click)
  13. Time delay for imported goals
  14. Delay in changing goal names or data views in Google Analytics

1. Different definition of conversions in AdWords and Google Analytics

Basically, a conversion in AdWords is different from a conversion in Google Analytics. There are different functions that help you to measure successful customer activity on your website:

  • Conversion tracking in AdWords
  • Goals and transactions (e-commerce) in Google Analytics

In AdWords you have the option of creating your own conversions. These are then recorded exclusively for AdWords access.

In Analytics you can define certain goals and measure their achievement. Possible goals are, for example, calling up a specific URL or clicking a button (using event tracking). If you have set up e-commerce tracking, transactions can also be recorded.

These conversions are initially recorded independently of each other. However, you have the option of importing the goals from Google Analytics into the conversion tracking of Google AdWords. You can also see the Analyatics data in the AdWords account. The conversion optimization tool accesses the data and you can optimize bids on this basis in order to achieve more conversions at lower costs.

2. In AdWords only hits via AdWords are considered, in Analytics all sources are considered

The conversions in AdWords are only considered for the accesses via AdWords sources. In Google Analytics, all sources are taken into account when counting target achievements.

Conversions in Google Analytics

If I only want to see data on your AdWords campaigns, you have to filter here first.

3. Different counting of the conversion rate in AdWords and Google Analytics

The conversion rate also often differs. In AdWords it is the percentage of clicks that led to AdWords conversions. In Google Analytics, the conversion rate indicates the percentage of users who have converted for at least one of the goals in the data view .

4. Different time allocation (clicks vs. conversions)

In AdWords, conversions are assigned to the date of the click on the ad that led to the conversion. This has the advantage that you can assign the conversion to the correct advertising costs.

In Google Analytics, the conversion is instead assigned to the date on which it took place. As a result, the total number of conversions is the same, but if you only look at part of the total period, differences can occur.

5. Different counting methods in achieving goals

In GA, the achievement of a goal is only counted once per session. In AdWords, however, a goal achievement can be counted several times per AdWords click. This can be set in AdWords. In both cases you will often get a different count than in Google Analytics.

You can do this in the AdWords account under Tools – Conversions. Select the name of the conversion action that you would like to edit, click on “Edit settings” and then on “Counting method”. If you select “a conversion” here, only one conversion per click will be counted. If you choose “every conversion”, this means that every conversion per ad click is counted.

Different counting of conversions in Google AdWords

If, after clicking on an ad, a user carries out the same goal twice in different sessions, the achievement of goals is counted twice in GA. In AdWords with the setting “one conversion” only once.

If, however, with the AdWords setting “every conversion” after clicking on an ad during a session the goal was executed several times, then only one goal achievement is counted in GA, but several goals in AdWords.

6. Different counts for transactions

It looks similar with transactions. With the setting “one conversion” in AdWords, when you click on an ad and then carry out two transactions in Google AdWords, only one conversion is counted, while in Google Analytics two transactions are counted.

7. Not all AdWords conversions can be counted in GA

There are also AdWords conversions that cannot be counted in Google Analytics. These include:

  • Cross-account conversion: Conversions via ads from different AdWords accounts
  • Telephone conversions: Conversions due to a call via the call extension  or other telephone numbers integrated into the website
  • View-through conversions: Conversions only based on the impressions (displayed but not clicked ads) of your display or video ads
  • Cross-device conversions: Conversions that occurred via an ad click on another device
  • Cross-browser conversions: Conversions that occurred via an ad click in another browser

8. Google Analytics tracking code is not loaded on the landing page

If the Google Analytics tracking code is  not triggered on the landing page , but the AdWords code does, then a conversion is counted in AdWords, but not in Analytics. This can happen if, for example, the analytics code is not integrated or the integrated code is incorrect.

9. Test transactions, refunds, returns

Test transactions, refunds, returns, and replacements are also messing up counts. Test transactions are often recorded in Google Analytics, for example, but not in AdWords. In Google Analytics you also have the option to import external data on refunds and returns . Cancellations then also affect the number of conversions. You cannot import this data into AdWords. On the other hand, you can only filter on (your own) IP address or your own other markers in Analytics. Conversions can land in AdWords that “get stuck” in Analyitcs.

10. Achievement of goals caused by invalid clicks are filtered out in AdWords

AdWords has an automatic filter that filters out suspicious and invalid clicks from the account, even when importing Google Analytics target achievements. The conversions are then counted in Google Analytics, but not in AdWords.

11. Different period of validity of cookies

To recognize returning users, both AdWords and Google Analytics use cookies, among other things, which are stored in the user’s browser. AdWords cookies expire 90 days after clicking on the ad. GA cookies are valid for six months.

A conversion tracking period of seven to 90 days applies to AdWords conversions. If a conversion occurs after the specified conversion tracking period (and less than six months after the click), it is recorded in Analytics and correctly assigned, but not in AdWords.

12. Different attribution models (last click vs. last AdWords click)

By default, GA uses the non-direct, last-click attribution model . This means that a conversion is assigned to the last non-direct channel. Direct access does not count, in this case the conversions are assigned to the penultimate channel. In multi-channel reports (to determine the customer journey), however, the last click model is used in GA.

AdWords counts with the Last AdWords Click Attribution model. A conversion is assigned to the last AdWords click.

Example: If a user clicks on an AdWords ad and later visits the website again using the organic search, AdWords assigns the conversion to the last AdWords click, while Google Analytics assigns this to the organic search.

13. Time delay for imported goals

If your goal is imported from Analytics into your AdWords account, it can take up to nine hours for the conversion data from Google Analytics to enter AdWords conversion tracking after the conversion.

14. Delay in changing goal names or data views in Google Analytics

If you change the naming of a goal or a data view with imported GA goals, AdWords will display the new names when the goal is met. It can take up to 24 hours for this data to be imported into AdWords.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are different reasons why your conversions in AdWords and Google Analytics can differ. It is not at all easy to evaluate these correctly without in-depth specialist knowledge and then to create meaningful analyzes. Our analytics experts will be happy to help you with this.

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