Conversion Tracking the Difference between Google Ads and Analytics

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Google Adsense is a program is run by Google. The program allows the publishers around the Google network of content sites to offer automatic text, video, images, advertisements to name a few. All of this is directly targetted towards the site content and the audience.

It’s important to understand the difference between conversion tracking in Google Ads and Analytics. However, it’s understandable if you’re feeling unsure about how the tools differ and which is best for you.

Conversion Tracking in GoogleAds can be done in two different ways. Either you install the Code you get from Google Ads directly and install it onto your Success page or you utilize the Goal Import method from your Google Analytics account.

This article covers the ins and outs of the key differences to keep in mind, which should help you to gain a more solid understanding of the data you use to improve your ads.

The Difference Between Google Ads and Analytics

1. Different Attribution Models

First things first, Google Ads and Google Analytics use different attribution models, which provide users with a greater understanding of how ads are performing. They can also help you to make the necessary optimisations across conversion journeys. If you want to understand attribution models more and how they impact on your data you can here.

So, what are the different models? Google Ads uses the last Google Ads click model, which essentially means the last clicked ad gets the credit for completing a goal.

In contrast, Google Analytics opts for the last (non-direct) click model. This means that direct traffic is ignored, and the credit is given to the last channel that a user clicked through before converting.

To help you understand this model, Google has provided us with the following example:

‘Let’s say a user clicks on a creative from your Google Ads account, then returns the next day via a Google organic search result and reaches your goal page or triggers a Transaction. Analytics will attribute the goal or Transaction to google/organic. By default, Google Ads will attribute the conversion to the Google Ads campaign.’

2. Different Conversion Count

Google Ads and Analytics also have a different conversion count for goals, which is something you should consider depending on how you want to track your conversions.

When you’re using Google Ads, you’ll have flexible conversion counting, with the option to choose between counting one conversion or several conversions per ad click.

Google Analytics, on the other hand, counts goals differently. Conversions are only counted once per user session.

So, essentially, if you’re looking to count multiple conversions for the same action, such as downloading a file, you’ll want to use Google Ads to do so.

3. Different Conversion Date/Time Stamp

It’s also worth noting that Google Ads and Analytics can have a different conversion date/time stamp for the same conversion. This can be confusing, so it’s helpful to understand how they both work.

Google Analytics reports a conversion on the day it has occurred, while Google Ads reports conversions against the date/time of the click that triggered the successful conversion or action.

4. Difference in Reporting Freshness

While comparing both tools, there is also a difference in reporting freshness. Google Ads’ conversion tracking numbers are reflected in your data fairly quickly (typically within 3 hours).

However, goals and transactions imported from Analytics into Google Ads can be on the slower side and can take up to 9 hours. This means that data reports will be slightly outdated, so you may notice data discrepancies between the two.

5. Phone Call Conversions

Finally, the last of the key differences between Google Ads and Analytics that we’ll be covering is phone call conversions.

You’ll find that some conversion actions, such as phone call conversions, are only available in Google Ads and aren’t offered in Google Analytics goals.

Set-up Google Ads Conversion Tracking vs Import Google Analytics Goal Conversion

Hey there, MeasureMasters. Julian here. Back with another MeasureMaster Ask Question. This time it comes from the community. I don’t have a direct quote here but I was asked by several person in the last few weeks whether I could explain the Google analytics conversion tracking versus the importing of Google analytics goal conversions into the Google ads settings a little bit more closely and examine this a little bit more. So if you don’t know what this is all about, if you are setting up goal conversions in your Google ads account here under tools and conversions, you can first of all set up a conversion via the website. And if you fill this all out, you will get, let’s go back here exactly this for example, a purchase conversion. And this will actually give you a tracking code that you either install through Google tag manager. So you need to install the conversion ID in the conversion label or a tracking code right here that you need to install on the thank you page, for example, where the conversion actually happens.

And then Google ads will start tracking this. And this is the setup of Google AdWords. You don’t have to have Google analytics at all to set this up and this will then record AdWords conversions or Google ads conversions in your account. Now you also have the ability to set up or import conversions from Google analytics. So if you have Google analytics connected to your Google ads account, you can click here on Google analytics and you can choose, for example, your eCommerce contractions. Or the goals that you have set up, let’s do this and import and continue them. So then these goals will be imported. So we have two rows here now. We have one time the sources analytics and the purchase, um, which is the conversion tracking that we have set up through AdWords. And the question is what is the difference between those, because presumably they have the same data set to work with, right?

So we have set up Google analytics in our conversions. So we have a goal conversion setup and we have set up in Google tag manager for example, our conversion tracking. So these should be the same, right? Um, sometimes you see discrepancies. Where do these discrepancies come from? So the question really here is, is there any difference or what is the difference between Google ads conversion tracking that you set up and the important of Google analytics goal conversions? Well, there is a crucial difference. And first of all, how do we set up this tracking? If we utilize the conversion tracking from Adwords, we would have a tracking code. We either install this through Google tag manager or directly on our conversion site, and then this will send data over to Google Adwords. And on the other side we could set up Google analytics, our tracking code on all websites.

We could declare one of these website views as a conversion and then pipe this all into Google Adwords. So there’s a difference between the actual sending the data directly into Adwords or piping it through Google analytics. So far, not a big difference here, but in the system that actually takes up this data, there is a crucial difference and we need to examine how Google AdWords or Google ads for that matter. Sorry, I always use them interchangeably since they have changed the name over the last few weeks. Um, how they actually differ from sending Google analytics data into Google AdWords.

Google Ads Conversion Tracking

So let’s take a look. First of all at Google ads conversion tracking. What Google ads conversion tracking sees is the actual ad click because they have that tracking installed obviously on google.com for example themselves. And they can see the ad click, the user clicked on the ad.

That is something that the system of Google ads will register. And then you have the conversion tracking the code installed on your thank you page. And this will also be registered through Google ads because every time somebody goes to the page or the code is executed, it will send data over to Google ads. Now this system is set up that every time somebody goes to the conversion page, every time a conversion is actually triggered, it will send data over to Google Ads. Now these two crucial data points need to be in place in order for it to register within Google Ads because the questions that are actually asked at first of all, was there an ad click and then did this ad click lead to a conversion. So these are the two crucial data points that Google ads will actually look at. If you have the Google ads conversion tracking code set up and say, okay, I’m going to count this as a conversion.

Now sometimes I get to ask the question, well, is that right that the Google ads conversion tracking code needs to fire every time a conversion happens? And that’s correct. You need to fire the conversion code every time a conversion happens, even if the user didn’t have a prior ad click. That’s not something you decide. But the ad, um, platform or in this case Google ads itself will just take up the signal of your conversion tracking code and see if there was a prior ad click attached to it. So send all the conversion tracking information that you have available. So every time a user converts over to Google ad words on their server side, on the side of Google ads itself, they will decide, okay, was there prior ad click? And if so, we will count this as a conversion. So these two crucial tracking points need to be in place for Google ads conversion tracking to work and actually the ad click.

That’s not something that you control. Google ads does that automatically, but you need to install that conversion tracking code on your thank you page, um, or on your conversion action that you want to track. So send the data over and then you Google ads. Conversion tracking code will work.

Google Analytics Conversion Tracking Import

Now post to that, Google analytics works a little bit different. Google analytics doesn’t really see if there was a prior ad click or not. It just registers where did you use a come from. It can see that that the user came from Edwards. But you have also the Google analytics code installed on all pages obviously on your website. Also on the thank you page and if the user visits the thank you page inside of Google analytics, you can declare or tag or configure your installation. So it actually tells or classifies the user who has visited that thank you page as a conversion.

So that is where you would say, I want to classify this page, you or this event as a goal conversion. You could also in um, e-commerce tracking into Google analytics, this will also be counted as a conversion obviously. So Google analytics works differently in that sense that it’s only installed on your website, but on the whole website itself. So every time a user comes to a landing page, it will look at where did they use a come from. And then if you convert, he will say, okay, the user came from Edwards and now I’m going to send that data over to Edwards. The crucial difference here is the two questions that I ask, first of all was their conversion. If so, okay, we are gonna evaluate whether we should send data over to Adwords or not. And the second crucial question that is asked is, was the last known source Google ads?

The difference between AdWords Conversion Tracking and Google Analytics Goal Completions

Goals in Analytics count a completion at the exact time a visitor reaches the goal completion URL location. For example: a prospect fills out the lead generation form and is taken to the /thank-you.html page to receive the white paper download – at that moment that action is counted.

This is unlike AdWords conversion tracking which attributes ‘the win’ to the time of the last ad click BEFORE conversion. Meaning a person clicks an ad, bookmarks the landing page, clicks off the site but within 30 days came back to the website via bookmark and filled out the lead generation form – that original click on that ad (even though the success action happened days later), was just attributed as a conversion.

Analytics would have counted that action as a non-paid goal completion since the visitor left the site and their last action BEFORE the conversion was by clicking on the bookmark, which brought them to the landing page, but not from an ad.

Oh, let the data discrepancies begin!

But don’t be deterred. If you understand what each tracking code is reporting you’ll be better suited to use the data to tell two different stories of which paid campaigns or landing pages are best performing.

Goal completions can be attributed to any traffic source, where conversion tracking only counts users if they clicked on an ad from the AdWords account. This means you would need to apply an advanced segment in Google Analytics to separate goal completions attributed to paid traffic from the remaining traffic sources like organic, referral and direct.

Setup goals in Analytics and import them into AdWords if you:

Want to track if an event occurred from Google Search paid traffic which does not result in the visitor being directed to a unique thank you page, like:

  • Downloading a file
  • Starting a live chat session
  • Watching a video
  1. Want to report on which goal completion URL a visitor ended up on, because you’re not too concerned about what ad copy got that visitor to the site. It’s more important that you know what pages a visitor clicked through, what date they completed the goal, and what form they filled out.
  2. Use a template landing page creation tool where Google Analytics is setup to track each landing page for bounce rate and total visits, but you’ll also need to report on the conversion rate percentage per landing page. Since AdWords conversion tracking attributes the conversion to the ad that was clicked on, you’ll want goals setup in Analytics and imported into Adwords to be able to track how many people visited the landing page and converted.

Conversion tracking is configured within AdWords and is useful when you need to track:

  1. Whether this ad led to this sale on my ecommerce website, and because each sale is important, I want to know if that one ad may have possibly resulted in multiple purchases (many-per-click conv.). Analytics would count each purchase separately.
  2. How many people clicked on my ad and then at some point within 30 days filled out a form. It doesn’t matter when someone completed the form to receive more information; I just need to know which ad campaign got them there.
  3. Sales within an ecommerce platform which do not have a clearly defined ‘thank you’ success URL like /receipt.html, but instead creates a dynamic purchase confirmation page unique to every customer that buys from the website.

The biggest difference is to remember that you will not be able to track Analytics conversion rate percentages based on AdWords clicks or ad spend if you do not import your goals into AdWords. The goal completions would be measured based on URL paths setup in GA, and AdWords conversions would be contained with the AdWords platform and report actions solely completed by paid traffic.

How Google Analytics and Google Ads Tracking Mechanism Differ?

So let’s examine that in a little example here. Let’s say a user visits the website three times and he comes from three different sources. The first time, for example, it comes from Google ads because he saw an ad for a dishwasher that was cheap. So he clicks on a Google ad result. He comes to your website. He says, okay, I really like this product but I’m not going to buy right now because I need to talk to my wife for example first. Then he forgets all about it, but he’s retargeted by your genius re-targeting methods on Facebook.

And he sees the ad again and says, Oh, I want to come back to buy this dishwasher. He comes back to your website, but, uh, he’s not ready to buy just quite yet. He talks to his wife first at home maybe, and then he says, okay, we are going to buy this product. So he Googles for your shop and uh, your product. And he finds that dishwasher on google.com in the organic search results. So he doesn’t click on a Google ads but actually clicks on a Google ads Organic result, comes to your website and converts. So he has converted on the third visit. And what ah, how does that now translate to the AdWords conversion tracking or um, yeah, the conversion tracking if you import it to Google analytics.

Advantages of Google Ads Conversion Tracking?

Now the benefits of Google ads conversion tracking are definitely that there’s more data available. As you’ve got seen in our example something Google analytics only cares about the prior ad click. Therefore it might potentially, um, gather more data than using Google analytics and thus you’d have more data available for optimization.

The disadvantage here is that it’d duplicate data. So let’s say you had a, let’s return to our example here. you’ve got a conversion tracking also was found out for Facebook and in Google analytics you’ve got three tracking system. Let’s say you’ve got Google ads, you’ve got Facebook ads and you’ve got Google analytics. Now all of those systems would count conversions. Google ads would say, okay, I even have one conversion from my prior ad click. Facebook ads would say, Oh, I even have also a conversion countered from my prior ad click. And Google analytics would say, Oh, I even have a conversion counted for Google organic. So if you add us all up, you’ve got three conversions that were counted, although just one conversions within the backend system that really happened, right? So potentially if you’d take of these different tracking systems together, they might all count one conversion and thus generate three conversions and duplicating or tripling your conversion count.

So this is often potentially, if you simply would check out Google ads therein sense, um, doubling the conversions and not attributing the conversions to at least one source. So keep that in mind.

Advantages of Google Analytics Tracking

The third thing, uh, that, uh, the advantage of Google analytics therein case would be that you simply have more accurate data because you don’t duplicate data, it’s only attributed to at least one source. So you’ll also attribute costs to only one source. So generally once you do marketing optimization, so you would like to attribute, um, one source to at least one sale then break up your budget. for instance , this is often easier wiped out Google analytics. Then taking a stab at, um, the various tools that you simply have available and saying, Oh, Google analytics counted 50 sales. And in my backend system I even have 60 sales. So that’s 90%. Um, and it’s not 90%, but, uh, it’s, it’s, it’s a majority of my ads.

That’s why I provides a Google ads my, my budget. that might be a false math obviously. And you ought to have some quite , um, attribution, um, watching all of your sources and Google analytics may be a better tool for this.

When to Use GA or Google Ads Tracking?

So again, best this in the Google analytics conversion tracking code is better used for if you do specialize Google ads channel optimization. So if you look at all the different ads and how they perform, you want to use Google analytics conversion tracking. Ah no Google ads conversion tracking and if you want to use, uh, if you want to do channel optimization or marketing optimization on a whole with different channels, then you might want to look at the Google analytics import feature or Google analytics in particular, um, for that matter because you only get one source that everything was attributed to.

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