A lot of businesses are familiar with Google Analytics as a traffic-tracking tool for their websites, and while that is one of their greatest functions, Google Analytics has a ton of great uses, such as monitoring traffic flow and learning what people are searching for on your site.
Another one of these functions is measuring conversions of your social media ad campaigns—including Facebook Ads.
While Facebook’s Ads manager (and platforms created by Facebook partners) have a ton of great information about ad campaigns, Google Analytics can still give you more information about how people are converting, when, and why—and Google analytics often gives you the bigger picture.
While we’ll take a close-up look at Facebook Ads specifically in this post, the knowledge and principle applies to all online ads, including ads run through Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and more.
Why Their Measurements Come Up Different
Marketers and businesses have been noticing for a while that when calculating conversions from Facebook Ads (or any other ad platforms), the measurements given by the respective ad manager and analytics sites on each platform don’t quite match up with the numbers Google Analytics will show. Instead of saying “the Facebook Ads manager know best” (which I’ve heard a lot of people say), it’s best to ask why are they different and—most importantly—which is most accurate?
The simple answer is that they track conversions differently, and give “credit” for conversions differently.
Facebook’s default conversion reporting—both for click through conversions and view through conversions—is different than both Google Analytic’s default options, and most of their customizable options (yep, we’ll get to that in a minute).
There are two types of conversions to look at—click through conversions, where a user clicks on your ad and converts; and view through conversions, where a user is shown your ad, they don’t click, but still visit your site later and convert.
Facebook’s analysis accounts for click through conversions that happen on an ad within a 28 day time frame, and view through conversions that happen within 1 day (though in reality, many view through conversions will happen days later at the earliest).
Facebook also gives credit of the conversion to the first touchpoint users come across—in this case, the ad—even though they could potentially interact with a variety of different pages in the buying process before they convert. They could, for example, browse a few different products or your About Us before actually purchasing.
Google Analytics’ default is different, utilizing a “last click” basis for assigning credit, where the last touch point the user interacted with will get the credit. This is automatically going to have the numbers coming up different.
They also offer a customizable system that allows you to help decide how you want to distribute credit for the conversion, allowing you to weigh in different touchpoints the user interacted with before the conversion, and assigning them different weights (shouldn’t the last page the user interacts with get some credit, after all?).
Benefits of Tracking Ads with Google Analytics
Google Analytics is one of the best tools you can have on your site, regardless of business size, industry, or the amount of technical experience you have. I think this is true for tracking the success of your Facebook Ads (or all social media ads) campaigns, too.
Being able to reliably track conversions is a big reason—and being able to choose what touch points you want to assign the most weight is also important. Being able to see not only that a Facebook Ad converted, but the entire path that is taking users to those conversions, can help increase your ROI and overall conversions of all types. Being able to track the path of the conversion can lead to a lot more in the future, and give you a good understanding of what your customers are looking for. That’s huge.
You can also see what certain audiences are finding relevant on your site, even outside of conversions. If you run a certain campaign and you track users throughout your site, it can help you identify niches or subniches within your group that you can target more accurately with remarketing or new campaigns in the future with specific, highly targeted messages.
Being able to see what else your audience is interested in—before and after conversions—can help you promote relevant items, make sure the conversion path is optimized, and see what your biggest hits of content are.
Finally, you can get new insight into your audience; while you can get Audience Insights about the audience you have on Facebook, Google Analytics may surprise you when you see who is actually converting outside of your Facebook fan base—it may be different than what you expected.
While ads managers of all types and across all platforms are highly effective, Google Analytics allows you to track the path of conversions more accurately, as well as allowing you to get a much closer look at what’s doing well on your site, and who is visiting it from the ads you’re running. All of this matters a great deal.
No matter how good Facebook Ad’s analytics are, nothing quite beats Google Analytics when it comes to completely tracking and understanding conversions, all the way through from initial exposure and the path the user took before converting. The more you’re able to understand why conversions are happening, the more you’ll be able to optimize them, as well as seeing how each campaign fits into the bigger picture.
Do you use Google analytics to Track your Ads—Facebook or otherwise? Have you noticed a difference in conversion metrics or click through conversions? Leave us a comment and let us know!