[SMK] Social Media Knowledge


Why Don’t AdWords and Analytics Match Up?

Last month we walked through one of the biggest frustrations in running both AdWords and Facebook ads – how to compare them to each other on an apples and apples basis.

This month, let’s dive into the second frustration – why don’t AdWords and Google Analytics (GA) numbers line up?

Different Purposes

Before we talk about differences in numbers, there’s an even more fundamental difference between AdWords and GA and here lies the source of much of the confusion – they both serve different purposes and so are actually not measuring the same thing:

  • AdWords measures advertising ‘off site’ user behaviour in clicks
  • GA measures website ‘on site’ user behaviour in sessions.

Clicks vs Sessions

AdWords is only interested in ‘off site’ user activities on Google’s own platforms (Google Search, Display Network, YouTube). Once a user clicks an ad, that’s 90% of AdWords’ job done.

AdWords isn’t really concerned about any ‘on site’ user activities with the exception of specific actions that result from Ad Clicks that you define as ‘Conversions’.

A session in GA be thought of as the group of interactions between when a user enters a website and when they leave.

GA isn’t interested in any ‘off site’ behaviour at all and is only concerned with ‘on site’ user activities – including specific actions you define as ‘Goals’.

Kick a Goal

In GA, Goals are counted:

  • Once per Session

In AdWords, Conversions are counted depending on how you define them:

  • ‘One’ Conversion per Ad Click, or
  • ‘Every’ Conversion per Ad Click

So one of the first reasons that your AdWords Conversion count is different (typically greater) than your GA Goal Count is that you may have ‘Every Conversion’ defined in AdWords.

This *can* be useful depending on the conversion – knowing a user viewed a demo video multiple times is useful (as opposed to newsletter signups where you would only expect this to happen once per user, for example).

If you want your GA Goals and AdWords Conversions numbers to be closer, making AdWords count ‘One’ Conversion per Ad Click instead of ‘Every’ is your first action.

Stay tuned for Part Two where we will continue exploring why AdWords and GA numbers don’t quite line up.


Adam Sugihto is founder of specialist, Melbourne based Pay Per Click agency and Google Certified Partner, Intentional. Since 2009, the Intentional team have driven online advertising for companies in global markets such as Prague, Paris, Tokyo, London, Shanghai, Bangkok, New York and LA; as well as being digital advisor and partner in the Australian domestic market for numerous household brands and NFPs.

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