How does Google Analytics attribute traffic from Facebook?
Google analytics is an incredibly powerful and useful tool used to analyse and track your website traffic, allowing you to measure your advertising return on investment. It can track traffic conversions from various sources including Facebook. But why is there sometimes discrepancies between Facebook Ads Manager and Google Analytics? In this article, we’ll explain how google tracks traffic and how to resolve discrepancies between Google Analytics and Facebook Ads Manager.
Traffic vs Conversion Attribution
Firstly, what is attribution and how does it work?
In online measurement marketing, Google Analytics is the tool that is used to attribute which posts, ads, emails, texts etc that has led to a purchase. For example, you’re after a new pair of Nike shoes so you search on Google and purchase one. Google Analytics then sees your transaction and tracks that the last action you did before purchasing was searching for it, therefore attributing the purchase to Google organic search. However, sometimes comparing the numbers between the two platforms doesn’t match up, as usually customers require more than one touchpoint in order to purchase.
1. How to set up marketing touchpoints in your funnel with Google Analytics
Google analytics is all about data. In Google Analytics, when you’re looking at the Source/Medium report, it shows the last touch (action) the individual took before making the conversion (e.g. a purchase). In the Assisted Conversions report, we can view the additional steps the individual took that led to the conversion.
In order to correctly understand analytics and which marketing and traffic sources are working, it is important to understand the differences between last touch and assists, and how the data is shown differently in the reports.
Source / Medium Report
When analysing analytics, it is important to view the last traffic source the individual has interacted with before making the conversion. In the previous example about Nike shoes, google organic search was the last touch before the purchase occurred.
To view this data, you need to open the Source/Medium report in Google Analytics. On the left hand column, under reports click on Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium.
From the image above, we can see that Google organic search brought in 2,282 users, 234 of these made a purchase.
By default, this report automatically references and shows the last touch a customer made before completing the conversion. If you wanted to see the additional steps the customer took before completing the purchase, we would need to look at the Assists and Assisted Conversions Report.
Assists and the Assisted Conversion Report
To better understand the assisted conversion process, let’s talk about the Nike Shoe example.
When deciding to purchase, you originally Google the shoe but don’t purchase it immediately. Some time after, an advertisement appears on Facebook for the shoe and you purchase it. Google Analytics will determine that Facebook was the last touch, and the google organic search assisted in the purchase.
Google Organic (assisted touch) + Facebook Ad (last touch) = Purchase
In Google Analytics, these attributions are viewed differently, last touch and assisted attributions. To view this data, you need to open the Source/Medium report in Google Analytics. On the left hand column, under reports click on Conversions > Multi Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions. Once the report is opened, select Source/Medium as the report’s primary dimension, which breaks down last touch and assists conversion by traffic source.
In the above example, we can see that Google Organic Search assisted 179 conversions and last click or direct conversion shows that Google Organic Search was the last touch for 326 purchases.
When comparing Facebook’s paid social campaigns, Facebook assisted in 251 conversions and was the last touch for 334 conversions.
2. Understanding Gaps in Facebook Ads Manager Conversion Reports
Now it’s time to explain how Facebook calculates the same conversions, in Facebook Ads Manager.
With the Nike Shoes example, if we viewed a Facebook ad and made a purchase directly, it will record Facebook as the last touch. This is the same process as Google Analytics.
However, when a customer completes multiple touch points before a conversion occurs, Facebook Ads manager and Google Analytics can not track the same data, which leads to discrepancies between the two platforms.
For example, if an individual clicks on the Nike shoes Facebook ad, but then only purchases the shoe when they complete a google organic search, Google Analytics is able to show that Facebook assisted in the process of the sale but Google Organic was the last touch.
Yet, Facebook does not have visibility of other platforms, and therefore believes that the Facebook Ad, the individual viewed led to the sale and therefore will claim credit for the purchase.
3. Analysing the differences in reports between Google Analytics and Facebook Ads Manager
Different platforms (Google Analytics & Facebook Ads Manager) calculate touch points differently, which can therefore cause discrepancies. With each platform, only having access to limited information, it therefore defines conversions differently.
If you would like to clearly analyse the performance of the different traffic sources, the best report to view is the Assisted Conversions report in Google Analytics where you’re able to view multi-channel conversion. Compare the data in Facebook Ads manager with the Assisted Conversions report, to fully understand the impact the difference traffic sources have.
For example, in Facebook Ads Manager, it may say that the Facebook Ad led to 85 purchases but when you view the assisted conversions report, it may attribute only 60 sales directly to Facebook, with Facebook assisting with the remaining 25 sales. There will still be discrepancies, however they would be a lot smaller as opposed to comparing Facebook Ads Manager with the Acquisition Source Report which only attributes last touch.
With Facebook only having limited access to data, it is unable to see the full touch-point process like Google Analytics. Now that you understand how the data is calculated, it is easier to understand why discrepancies occur. With more accurate insights on your customers’ purchase journey, you can now make better informed decisions about your marketing.
Need help understanding the difference between the two? Unsure what your data means? Get in touch with OMDIGI Group and we can help you with any of your digital marketing needs!