Google Ads vs. Google Analytics Tracking

Wondering why they show difference results?

Simple: they use different tracking methods. Although, worry not, because in this article we are going to explain to you everything about it.

You must learn this, because if you want to make your business grow and ensure that everything is on the right track, then you must track precisely.

Well, let’s begin!

#1 – About Attribution Models: Two Different Things

This is the first point where Adwords and GA separate their ways because they use different attribution models… but what’s that? Here you have a sweet and spot on the definition:

“A rule or set of them that determine how credit for conversions and sales are assigned to the touchpoints in the conversion paths”.

Yes, it is a very technical and complicate topic, but you get it, they use different models for crediting the sales and conversions you get on your website.

Now, let’s see what model each option uses:

  • Adwords: The last Adwords click gets the 100% credit for the sale/conversion
  • Google Analytics: It uses a last-click model for multi-channel funnel reports and a non-direct click attribution model for normal funnel reports.

Nailing It:

Do you find it too difficult to understand? Worry not, because right below you will find a practical description so you nail it:

Google Adwords bases its conversion paths on impressions AND clicks. To understand it better, check this example:

Let’s suppose you are running an Adwords ad for your e-commerce stores selling custom shoes. A user clicks on it, lands on your website but leaves. However, it returns later via an organic search on Google to purchase your product.

In this case, Adwords will credit the conversion to the LAST Adwords click, whereas GA will give the total credit to the organic search.

Now it should be easy to understand how both models work and why they are so different.

Finally, only to make it super clear, Adwords uses impressions and clicks and GA relies solely on clicks.

#2 – Different Ways of Calculating the Goal Conversion Rate:

Not only they use different attribution models, but also they calculate the goal conversion rate, let’s summarize it as GCR, in a different way.

Adwords calculates the GCR in the following fashion:

  • It uses the goals you have defined in the conversion tracking code
  • Alternatively, it can also use the goals you have imported from GA
  • Finally, you can also click the views and clicks recorded for all of your goals.

In the case of Google Analytics:

  • It exclusively uses the goals you have defined for a particular view
  • Furthermore, it can also include the sessions recorded for such view.
  • Finally, be careful with filtered views, because they can create a gigantic difference between the GCR in Adwords and GA.

Easy, right? Now let’s check the next difference!

#3 – About Goal Conversion Counting (GCC): Yet Another Difference

At this point, it should be clear that both platforms are very different in the tracking department, and now it is time to talk about GCC. Let’s begin with Adwords.

Adwords’s Goal Conversion Counting:

You only need to keep the following things into account:

  • It only counts conversions from clicks or video views
  • There is no such thing as “user sessions”
  • It can mark successive goal completions in the same user session.

That’s for Adwords, but now let’s check what Google Analytics does in this department.


  • It takes into account every conversion regardless of its source
  • It only counts a goal completion per user session. Therefore, even if the user completes the goal several times during the session, GA will only count it once.

These are the main differences, so we hope it is clear now. Let’s check other important aspects that differentiate both things.

#4 – Transactions in GA vs. Google Adwords:

This is another essential difference: there are certain transactions that Google Analytics records, but that Adwords does not.

Let’s understand this concept with this easy example:

You are running an Adwords campaign for your e-commerce store selling beauty products. A woman from New York City succumbs to your brain-teasing copywriting and lands on your website. She came for one product, but ends up buying 10 extra ones, so more money for you”.

This is how GA and Adwords will report the same result:

  • Google Analytics will report the ten orders
  • Adwords will only report one order.

Now, these are the most common transactions that will create noticeable discrepancies in the reports:

  • Reverse Transaction. Recorded by GA, but not by Adwords.
  • Test Transactions. Possible in GA, but not in Adwords.
  • Refund Data. Possible in GA, but not in Adwords.

Now, let’s move onto the next difference. Yes, yet another one!

#5 – Adwords Conversions That GA Cannot Track:

In order to create compelling and clear reports, it is worth noticing there are several Adwords conversions that GA cannot report:

  • Phone Calls
  • View Through
  • Cross Browser
  • Cross Account
  • Cross-Device
  • Store Visits.

Take this into account, so you can analyze your data effectively, because it is key for your business growth.

#6 – About Invalid Conversions and Invalid Clicks:

Another discrepancy between both platforms. With GA it is not possible to discard conversions that result from invalid Adwords clicks. Whereas with Adwords, it is doable to discount all the invalid clicks and their subsequent conversions.

#7 – About Flexible Conversion Counting:

One of the most useful features of Adwords is that you can record both marketing and business conversions thanks to Flexible Conversion Counting.

To understand it better, let’s check what happens in Adwords:

  • For every action that triggers a conversion, you can decide to count all the conversions that resulted from that click or only one conversion after that ad click
  • You can easily track sales, leads and more
  • You only need to configure the “Count” section when setting up your Adwords campaign and that’s all.

However, consider that this can create further discrepancies between the reports of GA and Adwords, so proceed with extreme care.

#8 – Adwords Is Faster than GA When Recording Conversions:

The tracking code of Adwords will record conversions noticeably faster than GA. Therefore, take into account that the imported conversions can take up to 9 hours to show up in Adwords.

It is important to consider this because it can create a momentary difference between both reports, but this is nothing that time cannot solve!

#9 – The Date of Conversions:

Instead of complicating things with unclear explanations, let’s check this quick example:

  • A user clicked on your Adwords ad on August 25
  • The user made a purchase on August 26
  • GA will report the conversion on August 26
  • Adwords will report the conversion on August 25.

Got it? As you can see, it is a lot simpler than it sounds!

#10 – About Data Sampling:

If you don’t know what it is, then here you have a straight-to-the-point definition:

  • It is the process by which you select a sub-set of traffic data with the purpose of analyzing it
  • It is one of the most common practices in the statistical analysis due to its efficiency that derives in saving money and time
  • It is important to ensure that the subset sample truly represents the bigger picture.

Unfortunately, just a couple of issues in the data sampling of your GA are enough to widen the difference between your report in this platform and Adwords. Therefore, you must proceed carefully.

Final Words:

Now you know the difference between tracking in GA and Adwords. It is essential to be aware of them, because if you want to grow your business, then you need a crystal-clear report to understand your data, and therefore, your audience.

If you still have questions, don’t be shy and comment or contact us!

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