Ad formats with expected Google Ads Clicks / Analytics Sessions discrepancies

Discrepancies are normal for some ad formats due to the nature of the ad type and billing method (referred to as the billable event).

The billable event is the moment at which you (the advertiser) incur a charge for running an ad. For example, ads running on the Google Search network are based on a cost-per-click model. The click is the moment you (the advertiser) are billed for the ad, but some newer engagement based ad-formats use an event other than the click to determine the moment you are billed for the ad.

In this article:

YouTube ad formats

Learn about YouTube ad formats.

TrueView ads

TrueView ads are primarily designed for branding and awareness. There is one billable event for this ad format, and that event occurs under any of the following conditions where the user:

  • Watches 30 seconds of the video, or watches the video to completion if it is less than 30 seconds
  • Clicks the channel title/avatar
  • Clicks the video title
  • Clicks the card's teaser
  • Clicks Share
  • Clicks the companion banner or video wall
  • Clicks the call-to-action overlay
  • Clicks to visit the advertiser's site
  • Clicks Install in Mobile App promo

The billable event is counted under the Paid Views metric of the new Video Campaign report which you can find under the Acquisition > Google Ads > Video Campaigns section of Analytics. A Paid View doesn’t necessarily have a corresponding session, and in many cases it won’t.

However, a TrueView ad can also have an associated Destination URL specified so that a user can click your TrueView ad to open your website. These clicks are counted under the metric Website Clicks and are counted even if you are not billed for a paid view. They can therefore be considered as free clicks.

If you compare Website Clicks with Sessions, then you should be aware that we expect a higher-than-normal click-to-session ratio due to the nature of the TrueView ad format, and the fact that the traffic those ads generate to your site is often indirect traffic.

In order to analyze this type of traffic, check out the new Google Display Network Impression Reporting, which can help you understand conversions that resulted from unclicked impressions or video views. With this report, it’s possible to see how your TrueView ads are generating value beyond just direct Website Clicks; you can dive deeper to understand how impressions, views, and clicks all contributed directly or indirectly to conversions on your website.

YouTube call-to-action overlays

For YouTube call-to-action overlays, the auto-tagging parameter (Google click id) is not output. If you want to track clicks coming from Call-to-Action Overlays, then you must use manual campaign tags.

TrueView Discovery

These thumbnail ad-formats direct users to a YouTube channel page, and therefore no corresponding session is recorded in Analytics.

If a call to action is included at the end of your promotional video that leads users to your website, you need to use manual campaign tags to track these free clicks on your call to action. Because these are free clicks, they are not billed and no auto-tagging parameter (Google click ID) is output.

Call Extensions and Click-to-Call

Click-to-Call ads, as the name suggests, consist of a click that leads directly to a phone call. As a result, there is no session started on your website, and therefore no session is recorded in Analytics.

AdWords Express accounts

If your AdWords Express account is configured to send visitors to Google+ local page, then no corresponding session is recorded in Analytics because you can’t install Analytics tracking on Google+ local pages.

You can use the Insights for your business listing to help you understand how visitors are finding your page.

Location Extensions

Clicks on interactive links such as get directions result in a billable event (click) in Google Ads, but there is no corresponding session in Analytics because this click doesn’t lead visitors to your website.

Gmail ads

Clicks on Gmail ads in the email thread list result in a billable event (click) in Google Ads. A paid click doesn't necessarily have a corresponding session, and in many cases, it won't. This is because clicking on a Gmail ad often opens the expanded ad body in the inbox of the user, instead of directly going to the website. However, if users continue to click on the expanded ad body, they can end up visiting the website. These website clicks are counted in Google Ads with the Gmail clicks to website metric. (You aren't charged when people interact with the expanded ad. You're only charged once—for the click that expands your ad in the first place.)

When comparing Clicks with Sessions in Gmail ads, expect to see a higher-than-normal click-to-session ratio due to the nature of the Gmail ad format.

Discovery ads

Discovery campaigns are designed to help you reach customers across several popular Google properties, including Gmail. Clicks on Gmail ads in the email thread list result in a billable event (click) in Google Ads. A paid click doesn't necessarily have a corresponding session, and in many cases, it won't. This is because clicking on a Gmail ad often opens the expanded ad body in the inbox of the user, instead of directly leading to the website. However, if users continue to click on the expanded ad body, they can end up visiting the website. You aren't charged when people interact with the expanded ad. You’re only charged once—for the click that expands your ad in the first place.

When comparing Clicks with Sessions in Gmail ads, expect to see a higher-than-normal click-to-session ratio due to the nature of the Gmail ad format.

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