Missing data and discrepancies

Sometimes you may notice that a report you've downloaded is missing certain details, or that your data doesn't match what you see in Google Analytics or your third-party reports. Click the link in this article that best describes your problem to find out what's going on.

Missing data

Report is missing sum totals

If you apply certain segments to your data and then download your report, you may see "--" instead of summary row totals. The data is unavailable because a sum total would provide inaccurate information.

For example, "click type" may apply to multiple aspects of the same impression (a click-to-call impression may show alongside a headline impression in the same ad, for instance). If you've applied the Click type segment to your data, you'll see "--" instead of summary totals in your downloaded report. In this case, a sum total would be inaccurate because it would double-count some of the impressions.

Report is missing columns

Occasionally, if you try to include certain segments when you download a table on the Campaigns tab, some columns in your table might be excluded from your report because not all column statistics are available for all segments.

For example, let's say you want to include conversion tracking segments in your campaign report. Because multiple conversion actions may be associated with a single click, it's not possible to include both conversion statistics and basic performance metrics (such as clicks, impressions, and average ad position) in the same report. Consider adding columns containing conversion metrics such as "Conv. rate," "Total conv. value," and "Cost / conv." to your table instead of converted click metrics. If you have columns for basic performance metrics in your table, they won't be included in your report.

Report is missing certain keywords

Only keywords which received at least one impression during the reporting period will appear on a given report. For example, if your report covers the last seven days, and your keyword "flowerpot" received no impressions during those seven days, then "flowerpot" won't appear on the report.

If you don't see a particular keyword, try expanding your date range before downloading your report.

Some highly detailed keywords simply may not receive any impressions. Keywords that receive no impressions for a 90-day period will eventually be disabled.

Data discrepancies

You may notice one of two types of discrepancies between statistics in your AdWords accounts and those in your web server logs or third-party tracking software:

  • The first type occurs when web logs or third-party tracking software show fewer clicks on your ads than your AdWords statistics show.
  • The second type occurs when a third-party click auditing firm reports more invalid clicks than those detected by the AdWords Ad Traffic Quality Team.

Learn more about the differences between AdWords and third-party data

Differences between Google Analytics and AdWords

There are some cases when your AdWords data may disagree with your imported Google Analytics data. Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • Google AdWords tracks clicks, whereas Google Analytics tracks visits. There are several reasons that these metrics may differ:
    • A visitor may click your ad multiple times. When one person clicks on one advertisement multiple times in the same session, AdWords records multiple clicks while Analytics recognizes the separate pageviews as one visit.
    • A person may click on an ad, and then later, during a different session, return directly to the site through a bookmark or saved link. This situation would register as one click in AdWords, but multiple visits in Analytics.
    • A visitor may click on your ad, but then change her mind and prevent the page from fully loading by clicking to another page or by pressing the browser's Stop or Back buttons. In this case, Analytics won’t register a visit, but AdWords still counts this as a click.
  • To ensure more accurate billing, Google AdWords automatically filters invalid clicks from your reports. However, Analytics reports these clicks as visits to your website in order to show the complete set of traffic data.
  • Comparing long date ranges may include periods during which your accounts were not linked.
Clicks exceed impressions / CTR is higher than 100%

Though it isn't actually possible to have more clicks than impressions, sometimes your account reports may reflect more clicks than impressions, or a clickthroughrate (CTR) of more than 100%.

Why does this happen? First, the reports that you see in your account aren't in real time. Clicks are updated about every hour, while impressions are updated every few hours. So, it's possible that the number of clicks displayed in your reports will exceed the number of impressions, until your reports are completely updated. This usually happens by the end of the day (11:59 p.m. in the time zone you've selected for your account).

To see the greatest accuracy in your reports, we suggest reviewing a given day's reports on the following day, when the servers have finished reporting the clicks and impressions.

Second, because browsers cache the search results and ads on search results pages, our technology registers only one ad impression per search. However, your reports will show multiple clicks if a visitor clicks on your ad more than once in a cached browser session.

You may see a certain amount of multiple clicks in your own weblogs. These clicks represent legitimate visitors accessing your advertisement in expected ways. It's possible that a visitor legitimately clicks on your ad more than once. For example, the person may be comparison shopping or returning to your site for more information. Additionally, some internet service providers assign a single IP address to more than one person. In this case, multiple clicks from the same IP address don't mean that someone is clicking multiple times on your ad.

Data formats

Average positions reported as decimals (such as 1.5)

When viewing your ad performance reporting data within your account (not via the Keyword Planner), you may see decimals reported for your ad positions. Unless you choose specific keyword matching options, your keyword targets will likely match a large number of different queries through broad matching. For example, targeting domain name will match queries for domain name registration and free domain name, which might have been individually targeted by another advertiser at a different cost-per-click (CPC). If your maximum CPC is high enough to land your ad in the first position for the query free domain name, but only in the fourth position for domain name registration, your average position might turn out to be 2.4.

Unique users, clicks and conversions reported as decimals in the Reach and frequency view on the Dimensions tab

Because the estimated frequency is based on sample group data, the estimation of unique users, and their subsequent clicks, isn't always a whole number.

Data impacted by daylight savings time

Your AdWords statistics will always reflect the local time in the time zone you've chosen for your account.

Many countries make an annual adjustment to their official time to increase daylight hours during summer months. This is often called Summer Time or Daylight Savings Time. If the time zone you've set for your account shifts in this way, your AdWords account schedule and statistics will adjust automatically as well. Your account will also adjust when the time zone returns to normal time at the end of the summer.

You can, if you wish, have your account set to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) year-around, with no shifts for Summer Time. You must make this selection during the account signup process.

To have your account run on GMT, unaffected by time zones, you'll select the United Kingdom as your time zone country and (GMT+00:00) No daylight saving (you can make this selection no matter what country your account actually operates in). Here's how to do it:

  1. After signing up for your account, you'll receive a confirmation email from AdWords. Follow the link on the email and sign in to your account.
  2. Click the link reading Submit your billing information.
  3. Use the "Time Zone Country or Territory" pull-down menu to select United Kingdom. A second pull-down menu will appear.
  4. Use the second pull-down menu to select (GMT+00:00) No daylight saving.
  5. Click Continue, enter your billing information, and activate your account.

Remember, the (GMT+00:00) No daylight saving selection is available only when you select the United Kingdom as your time zone country.

GDN delays

For new GDN campaigns it takes 12 hours before approved ads start to begin serving. For changes on the GDN, it varies how long the delay is. However, in general, there is a longer delay for GDN changes to take effect than for search campaigns.

Keep in mind

Performance data isn’t available instantly, and some reports are only updated once a day. Learn more about the freshness of your data.