Conversion Tracking: Understanding the difference between Google AdWords and Google Analytics



If you’ve ever wondered what’s the difference between Google Analytics goals and Google AdWords conversion tracking then you've landed in the right place! Both tools are equally important but produce completely different conversion metrics, so what are the differences? And which method is best for your business? 

In this article, we’ll steer through the main differences between Google AdWords and Google Analytics in order to clear the confusion so read on! 

# Different Attribution Models

Attribution models help you get a better understanding of how your ads perform allowing you to make the necessary optimizations throughout the conversion path. Google Analytics and Google AdWords use different attribution models.

Adwords uses the last click attribution model which puts weight on the last clicked ad, in other words, it reviews the entire conversion path and the final interaction gets credit for the goal completion.  So if you’d like to identify the Ads that generate most conversions, AdWords’ last click model is what you need.

Google Analytics, on the other hand, offers a comprehensive view, it uses a last (Non-Direct) click model which ignores all direct traffic and gives credit to the last channel the customer clicked through prior to converting. Analytics uses this model as a default model when it comes to non-Multi-Channel Funnel reports.

# Different Goal Conversion Count

Adwords allows you to choose between counting one conversion or multiple conversions per ad click. Whereas for Google Analytics, the way goals are counted is different, the conversions are counted only once per session.

Let’s look at an example, if your goal is “Form download” then Google Analytics will count one goal completion when the user downloads the form in one session, however, Google Adwords will count the form download as a conversion each time the user downloads the form in one session.

The choice is yours, if you want to count multiple conversions for the same action then you need to use AdWords.

Read on to learn more about how to track conversion on Google AdWords!

# Different Conversion Dates

Adwords and Google Analytics can report different time and date for the same conversion, you might wonder how’s that possible? Well, Google Analytics reports a conversion on the day it occurred whereas AdWords reports a conversion the day the ad that triggered the conversion was last clicked.

For instance, let’s say a goal was completed (Purchase) on the 15th of August but the customer actually clicked on the ad 2 days before on the 12th of August. AdWords will attribute the conversion to the date the ad was last clicked which is the 12th of August whereas Google Analytics will attribute the conversion to the date it occurred, be it the 15th of August in this example.

# Difference in the Reported Data Freshness

When it comes to reporting, AdWords reports the tracked conversions within a window of 3 hours compared to goals and transactions imported from Google Analytics to AdWords which typically take up to 9 hours making it slightly outdated and that creates a discrepancy in the reported data between the two platforms.

Bottom line

You might find it hard to choose which of the two methods to use. On one hand Google Analytics provides you with multiple useful features on top of a holistic view making it easy for you to focus on different areas to grow in your business and Google AdWords, on the other hand, gives you quick and easy access to data conversion reports allowing you to be more flexible when it comes to decision making and optimisations. Thought call! 

Wait! Why choose when you can use both? Yes! That’s right, both methods deliver different versions of what’s going in on in your website so use that to draw advantages from both platforms, however, make sure you’re being careful not to end up duplicating a conversion your tracking on both tools at the same time.

This post is part of adaplo Blog.

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