Why are your Conversions in Analytics and Adwords different?

Have you ever looked at your Adwords data and then the acquisition data in Analytics only to find different numbers for Adwords and Analytics? What gives ay?

Well it doesn’t mean you are wrong or have set up Adwords or Analytics incorrectly. In fact, if you are doing everything right and driving a lot of traffic then there probably should be a variance.

It all comes down to the different attribution models bring used. Even though they are both under the Google umbrella they do in fact calculate conversions and goals differently from one another.

Take these 2 snapshots of the same period: May 1 – May 31, 2014

Adwords Conversion tracking:

Adwords Hog Conversion Screeny

Adwords has probably the most selfish conversion reporting around. Adwords loves to take all the glory and as PPC marketers, this is a good thing as we go back to our clients and say “look how many conversions I got you! Arn’t we great? Oh about that invoice…” and so on. So selfish is Adwords that if someone clicks on one of your Adwords ads and then if some time within a month (ie 30 days) they were to convert then Adwords screams mine! mine! This doesn’t matter if they saw a social post, came in via email or were referred by another site, Adwords will claim the spoils every time. It’s a digital glory hog.

In the image example above, we have 19 conversions for the campaign. That’s Adwords, great work.

Google Analytics tracking:

Analytics conversion screenie

Analytics is not as selfish as Adwords but it only looks at the last source as the victor. Lets say a user traffic originally came from Adwords, then returned again through Facebook and finally converted when they referred to by another site (lets say jimmysfriend.com). In this case Analytics by default will give all the credit to Jimmysfriend.com. That’s right, Jimmysfriend.com just rode the curtails of the other sources and now claims responsibility in Analytics.

So after taking this into consideration, for the same period as the Adwords example above, its telling me Google Adwords (GDN in this case) only got me 13 conversions. (Client -> “Liar! What invoice?” and so on)

Which one is right? None really. Anyone wrong? No not really. Different to each other? Yep! Does this explain the variance? You bet! Will the client pay the invoice? Its possible, however you may want to do some explaining. Clients also like pictures so try something like this:


So what do you do about it?

Well there is little we can do on the Adwords side of things. This is a deep rooted issue that we don’t have control of. Analytics on the other hand, well, we can train Analytics to show the info we need, you just need to press the right buttons.

The conversion tracking differences are simply due to different types of attribution models. Analytics by default is based on a ‘last interaction’ attribution model (I say ‘by default’ because you have some power here). Adwords on the other hand is more of a ‘any touch attribution’ which is very one dimensional and simply says that if Adwords was at any point involved, then attribute the conversion to it.

Analytics gives you the option of multi touch or multi interaction attribution models to play with and it only takes a few clicks to transform your info. To do this just go to the attribution model comparison in Analytics (Down in your goals section):

attribution models analytics

Here you can look at how conversions change whether you look at conversions based on different type of attribution models.

Generally Adwords looks at conversions from a basic yay or nay point. However understanding how conversions are calculated in Adwords is the first step to really understanding the data and ads more dimension to the tracking. In the end, this more robust analysis leads to better marketing decisions.

Finding your data off? Let us know!

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