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Facebook Ads vs. Google Analytics

Where did you come from, where did you go?
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Where did your clicks on Facebook end up in Analytics? Oh...

I manage upwards of 10 Facebook Ads accounts across different industries and even countries. So I thought I’d share something that has been around the web for around 3 years (if not more), but resurfaced recently – Facebook’s Metrics Reporting issues.

In the past 6 months, Facebook admitted to misreporting a plethora of metrics – Video Impressions, iPhone audiences and Estimated Reach. Then there’s the “fake likes” problem that Veritasium ferreted out a while back.

The problem I wanted to bring to your attention is similar in many ways – if you’ve been using Google Analytics to keep track of your Facebook campaigns’ performance in generating traffic, purchases and leads, this may sound familiar – there’s a huge difference between the number of clicks Facebook reports and the number of unique sessions Analytics actually records. In my experience, around 60% of those clicks turn into sessions.

When asked about it, Facebook Reps have this to say:

“Facebook Ads reports clicks. Many third-party reporting packages report visits or page views, which may not correspond directly to Facebook’s click tracking. Some third-party reporting packages require that the user’s browser have cookies, Javascript and/or images enabled in order to record statistics, which may result in undercounting relative to the clicks reported by Facebook Ads.


To make your website analytics more accurate than relying on referrer URLs, you can link your Facebook ads or sponsored stories to unique URLs that are only used for your Facebook Ads campaigns, or add an extra, identifying parameter to your URL. “

Which sounds reasonable enough – but it won’t fix your problem. Or, at least, it did not fix it for any of the accounts I’m working on. The discrepancies remain.

Should you abandon Facebook?

Not entirely. But you should probably alter your KPIs and make some adjustments to your campaigns – here’s what we’ve been doing:

  1. Ditch the Audience Network – we’ve seen no positive ROI coming from it, and we’re not the only ones unhappy with the channel
  2. Mark all you campaigns with UTM parameters – this will make you less reliant on JavaScript for tracking traffic in Analytics
  3. Adjust your expected CPC – if Facebook reports 2 clicks for every visit you have, then your actual CPC isn’t £0.4. It’s £0.8. Base your budget on those metrics.
  4. Create a landing page just for Facebook – you can duplicate your original one and just change the URL
  5. Switch to https – some UTM-marked pages will not be properly tracked if a user jumps from facebook (https) to a standard website (http)

And remember – Facebook’s really good at driving Facebook Likes, Facebook Shares and other Facebook-related metrics. It’s a good awareness tool. Similar to how TV ads work, Facebook pushes content towards people. If you’re looking for better ROI, go for Search tactics (paid or non-paid, like SEO).

If you want to read the entire article, please find a download link below containing an extensive research on this topic

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