Why do conversions reported by AdWords, Google Analytics, Digital Analytics, and Floodlight not match?

In DoubleClick Search (DS), if you compare columns such as Actions, Transactions, or Floodlight columns with the conversions reported in AdWords columns, Google Analytics columns, or IBM Digital Analytics columns, you may see that the numbers don’t match.

First, confirm that the columns are tracking the same events on your site. For example, you can customize a Floodlight column to report a specific set of activities, which might be a different set of activities tracked by AdWords, Google Analytics, or Digital Analytics.

Once you’ve confirmed the set of activities is the same, you may still see some discrepancies. This is expected, as there are some differences between the types of ads that are supported, how the systems count conversions, and how they attribute them to days. For example:

  • DS can only report on supported ad types.
  • In terms of counting conversions, some of the differences include: lookback windows, display vs. search attribution, and counting configuration.
  • DS reports on conversions that occur after you link DS with Google Analytics or IBM Digital Analtyics. For example, DS will not report on conversions that occurred on October 4th, after accounts were linked on October 3rd, because the conversions are attributed to vistis that occurred on October 1st, before the accounts were linked.

Expected discrepancies

Please keep the following in mind:

  • This is not a complete list of possible reasons for discrepancy, nor is it a full description of Google Analytics and AdWords Conversion Tracking. Refer to the Google Analytics and AdWords Conversion Tracking help for details on all settings for these products.
  • This article applies to standard Google Analytics reports and not Multi-Channel Funnel reports, which attribute conversions differently.
  • If you’re comparing DS reports to data directly in the Google Analytics UI, confirm that the campaign/ad group data is propagated in a similar way across the two products.

Day of attribution

Conversions are attributed to:

DoubleClick Floodlight AdWords
Conversion Tracking
Google Analytics IBM
Digital Analytics
The day of conversion. The day of click. The day of conversion. Both Same Session and Same Day of click via separate metrics.

Lookback windows

The lookback window is the period of time after a customer clicks and ad during which a conversion, such as a purchase, is recorded. The lookback window can vary between the supported conversion-tracking systems: 

DoubleClick Floodlight AdWords
Conversion Tracking
Google Analytics IBM
Digital Analytics
You can customize the lookback window. You can customize the lookback window between 7 and 90 days. By default the lookback window is 6 months, but you can customize the length. You can customize the window to look back as many as 6 months.

Display/search attribution

If a consumer:

  1. Clicks a search ad.
  2. Later clicks a display ad and converts.
DoubleClick Floodlight AdWords
Conversion Tracking
Google Analytics IBM
Digital Analytics
Conversion attribution can go to a DCM display click if it was the last click. The conversion will be recorded in AdWords. Conversion attribution can go to the display click if it was the last click. Conversion attribution can go to a display click if it was the last click.

Last-click attribution

If a consumer:

  1. Clicks a search ad.
  2. Later clicks a natural search result and converts.

NOTE: This applies to both referral and direct traffic.

DoubleClick Floodlight AdWords
Conversion Tracking
Google Analytics IBM
Digital Analytics
The conversion will be attributed to the ad in DoubleClick. The conversion will be attributed to the ad in AdWords. The conversion won’t be attributed to the ad in Google Analytics.

To exclude non-AdWords traffic from attribution, go to Google Analytics’ attribution model tool and select Last AdWords Click.

The conversion will be attributed to natural search in the Digital Analytics Marketing Channels report but will be attributed to the search ad in the Marketing Programs report.

Time zone

The time zone of the conversion is based on:

DoubleClick Floodlight AdWords
Conversion Tracking
Google Analytics IBM
Digital Analytics
The DCM account's time zone. Engine account time zone. The time zone that is defined for the Google Analytics view. The client's specified time zone.

All conversions vs. unique conversions

The systems vary on whether they count all conversions that happen after a click, or only unique conversions that happen after a click.

DoubleClick Floodlight AdWords
Conversion Tracking
Google Analytics IBM
Digital Analytics
To learn about different counting configurations in DCM, read this article. AdWords uses flexible conversion counting. To learn about conversion counting, read this Help Center article. To learn about conversion configurations in Google Analytics, read this Help Center article. The Digital Analytics marketing attribution window logic is applied to many metrics in the report suite, including Unique Buyers and Unique Visitors.

Ad robots and other spam

The systems vary on whether they exclude activity recorded by ad robots. 

DoubleClick Floodlight AdWords
Conversion Tracking
Google Analytics IBM
Digital Analytics
DoubleClick excludes visits from ad robots, but does not have the advanced spam filtering of AdWords. AdWords excludes clicks from ad robots and applies more advanced spam monitoring and human review to filter invalid clicks. Google Analytics includes visits from ad robots and does not have the advanced spam filtering of AdWords. Digital Analytics offers the ability to filter out robot and other bad / non-human traffic sources using the IAB/ABC International Spiders & Bots List.

For more information

Read these Help Center articles for more information on data in AdWords and Google Analytics:

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