This article is about Universal Analytics properties, which will stop processing data on July 1, 2023 (October 1, 2023 for Analytics 360 properties). If you haven't already, start using a Google Analytics 4 property.

Data discrepancies between Google Ads and Analytics

The Analytics reports and Google Ads reports import data directly from the Google Ads system. The data in Google Ads and Analytics is usually the same. However, there are circumstances in which the data can differ:

  • Comparing long date ranges may include periods when your accounts weren't linked.
  • Linking multiple Google Ads accounts to the same Analytics view complicates the information in your reports.
  • Filters may remove some of the data from your Analytics reports. Check that there are no filters editing your campaign final URLs.
  • Google Ads data is imported into Analytics at the time you view your report, so data is current as of the most recent hour.
  • Google Ads performs different calculations of the data than Analytics does, so you will see some differences even when the underlying data is the same.

Use the checklist provided here to verify your configuration. See the rest of the article for information about why data differences can occur.

In this article:

Configuration checklist

Many data discrepancies are due to improper configuration. Use the following checklist to make sure you have everything set up properly.

  • Verify that you have correctly linked your Google Ads account and your Analytics property. Learn more
  • Make sure the landing pages for your ads have the tracking code for the correct Analytics property. Learn more
  • Check to see if auto-tagging will work for your site. Learn more
  • If your site does support auto-tagging, turn it on. Learn more
  • Make sure the final URLs in your ads are tagged the right way. Learn more
  • Check to be sure that none of your filters are removing Google Ads data. Learn more
  • Use Google Tag Assistant to learn if your tag is set up the right way. Download Tag Assistant | Learn more about using Tag Assistant

Reasons tracking in Google Ads and Analytics can be different

If you’re using data from the same conversion activity using both Google Ads and an Analytics goal, data might be reported differently for the following reasons.

  • Google Ads and Analytics attribute conversions differently. Google Ads uses the last Google Ads click, but Analytics uses the last click across all channels.
  • Google Ads and Analytics use different dates of transaction. Google Ads reports conversions against the date/time of the click that led to the conversion. Analytics uses the date/time of the conversion itself.
  • Tracking numbers are reflected at different times. Google Ads conversion tracking numbers are usually reflected within 3 hours but typically within 9 hours from Analytics.
  • There are account-level tracking differences. Google Ads tracking can be set up at either the individual account level or across multiple accounts. Analytics only tracks user behavior at the property level.
  • There are discrepancies between clicks and sessions.  Google Ads and Analytics count clicks and sessions differently. See the next section for more information.

Discrepancies between clicks and sessions

If you're experiencing any of the following discrepancies between clicks and sessions, you can use the clicks vs. sessions troubleshooter to identify and resolve problems.

If you're seeing (not set) as the value for your Google Ads data (for example, as the value for the Account or Campaign dimension), use the (not set) troubleshooter to identify and resolve the cause.

There are a number of reasons why Google Ads and Analytics may report different numbers of clicks and sessions:

  • Clicks and Sessions are different metrics.
    Google Ads tracks Clicks, while Analytics tracks Sessions. If a user clicks on your ad 2 times within 30 minutes without closing the browser, this is registered by Analytics as one session, even if the user left your site and then returned shortly after. For example, if a user clicks on your ad once, clicks the back button, and then clicks your ad again, Google Ads registers two clicks while Analytics registers one session.
  • Google Ads filters invalid clicks from your report. Analytics shows all data.
    Google Ads automatically filters certain clicks from your reports, while Analytics reports on all the resulting sessions. The clicks filtered from your Google Ads reports are the instances of someone clicking repeatedly on your ad in order to increase your costs or to increase your clickthrough rate. Google Ads considers these clicks to be invalid and automatically filters them from your Google Ads reports. You aren't charged for these potentially invalid clicks.
  • You turned off auto-tagging for your URLs in your Google Ads account.
    If auto-tagging is turned off, and you didn't manually tag the final URLs with campaign tracking variables, the traffic isn't marked as Google CPC (clicks that came through from Google Ads ads), but instead may be attributed to Google Organic (clicks from organic search results on Google.com). Ensure that your Google Ads account either has auto-tagging turned on or has campaign tracking variables appended to the end of every final URL.

    Learn how to enable autotagging.
  • Make sure your Google Ads Import & Export Settings are correct.
    If you're sure the accounts are linked and you still don't see click or cost data, check that you have selected the option to import the data from the linked account to the view in question.

    Learn how to edit your Google Ads Import & Export Settings
  • Your site has a server side URL rewrite
    Adding additional parameters to your URL may cause your rewrite rule to break. A small percentage of websites don't allow arbitrary parameters in the URL and as a result serve error pages when you include those parameters. We suggest that you ask your webmaster to allow arbitrary URL parameters.
  • Your landing page might redirect to a different page.
    Redirects in landing pages can keep the Analytics code from launching and properly identifying the traffic as having come from a paid search campaign. For example, if your ad leads to http://www.mydomain.com/index.html, but you've created a 301, 302, or JavaScript redirect from that URL to http://www.mydomain.com/page2.html, the campaign information that was originally appended to the landing page is lost when it redirects.

    Learn how to track redirecting pages.
  • Make sure the landing page for your ads is being tracked.
    If the landing page for your ads isn't being tracked, your campaign information isn't passed to Analytics. Ensure that you're tracking all landing pages for your Google ads.
  • Users might have set their browser preferences in ways that prevent Analytics used on websites from collecting data.
    Users entering your website through Google Ads might have JavaScript or images turned off, or they might use other technologies to prevent Analytics from reporting about your website users (such as by installing the Analytics opt-out browser add-on). In some cases, Analytics might not be able to report these users, but they're reported through Google Ads.
  • Make sure your landing page is able to load the code properly.
    Clicks reported on Google Ads but not on Analytics may be the result of an obstruction between the Google Ads click event and the ability to load the tracking code on the landing page. If this is the case, ensure that your web hosting servers are functioning properly, the page is loading for all possible users and IPs, and the tracking code is installed correctly on your web pages.

    Learn how to check that you've installed the Analytics code properly. 
  • Users return during the lifetime of a campaign.
    During the lifetime of a given campaign, a returning user to your site is attributed to that one campaign. In such cases, you can expect to see more sessions than clicks. To see the number of sessions from returning users, cross-segment the campaign by User Type.
  • Users return to your site via bookmarks.
    Analytics uses the gclid parameter in your final URLs to identify traffic from Google Ads ads. The gclid parameter shows up in your landing page URL when a user arrives at your site from your ad. For example, if your site is www.example.com, when a user clicks on your ad, it appears in the address bar as:

    www.example.com/?gclid=123xyz

    If users bookmark your website along with the gclid parameter, Analytics records traffic from these bookmarks arriving from your Google Ads ads. However, Google Ads doesn't record the clicks (and advertisers are not charged for these sessions since they're not actual clicks on the ads).
  • The server delays.
    If a user comes to your site from an ad, and then leaves the landing page before the tracking code executes, then the gclid parameter is never passed to the Google servers, and that click isn't associated with the session. The result is a clicks vs. sessions discrepancy.

Discrepancies in the Conversion Rate

In Analytics, Conversion Rate is the percentage of users that convert on at least one of the Goals you have defined for that view. This is different than the Google Ads Conversion Rate you see in your Google Ads account. In Google Ads, the Conversion Rate refers to the percent of clicks that end in a Google Ads conversion, as defined by the Google Ads Conversion Tracking code. Please refer to the following article for more information on the differences between these two types of conversion tracking.

Related resources

Comparing Analytics and Google Ads conversions metrics

Dimensions and metrics

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