If you've bought any LinkedIn, Facebook or Google Adwords Ads over the last few years you may have noticed in your Google Analytics account that the number of Sessions your ads actually generate can be far less than the amount of "Clicks" your ads get on each platform.

The first question is, why is there a discrepancy in the clicks vs. sessions data?

This is due to a technical reason. There’s a time delay between a user clicking on the ad in Facebook, LinkedIn or Google and being directed to your site. On a mobile, this delay may be several seconds long, and during the delay, the user will think about going back to safety (Facebook’s app) or just closing the app entirely. Also, as your landing page loads, your Google Analytics Javascript Snippet that tracks your data, needs time to load and record the session. Not much time, but some time, and so if the user navigates away from your page before this happens, then a session is not recorded.

We've seen this happen quite a bit throughout the years in our clients' Google Analytics Accounts.

According to Little Data, this will happen more often if the visitor is not familiar with your brand, and also when the page contents are slow to load.

According to Facebook, the Google Analytics tracking code won’t fire anywhere between 10% and 80% of clicks on a mobile, but fewer than 5% of clicks on a desktop. It depends on what stage in the page load the GA pixel is requested.

(image from Little Data).

There are a couple things that can be done about this.

1. The most important one is from an advertising standpoint - making sure your audience is qualified to view the content on your site and drive conversions. Facebook has the best algorithm and ad serving options for this, including not only "Link Click" objective ads, but also "Landing Page View" and "ViewContent" ads. I cover those options here.

2. From a tracking perspective, using Google's URL Builder Tool can help you ensure that the tracking happens off of your ads click into Google Analytics, but also help you name your campaigns, which is extremely useful for data driven next action steps. LinkedIn even recommends this in their official documentation.

Here's what this ends up looking like on the Google Analytics side of things...

Thanks for reading - and have a great day!

Paul Hickey has created and grown businesses via digital strategy and internet marketing for more than 10 years. His sweet spot is using analytics to design and build websites and grow the audience and revenue of businesses via SEO/Blogging, Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads, Social Media Content Marketing and Email Marketing. The part that he’s most passionate about is quantifying next marketing actions based on real data.

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