Discrepancies in Google Analytics

AdRoll and Google Analytics reporting don’t always match up. While both aim to track the same trends for marketers, they have different approaches to reporting that will often lead to a few discrepancies. By understanding each tool, you can leverage both to measure and improve advertising performance.

If you want to understand the discrepancy between the two platforms, first make sure that your AdRoll and Google Analytics tracking are working correctly. 

Google Analytics Troubleshooting Checklist:

  • Is the Google Analytics code firing correctly?
  • Is the Google Analytics javascript on each landing page?
  • Do your ad destination URLs have UTM tracking codes that properly assign the traffic source to AdRoll?
  • Are the ad destination URLs prompting redirects (redirects might strip the campaign tracking codes)?
  • Are you defining conversions and tracking the same conversion points in AdRoll and Google Analytics?
  • Have you set up filters that are removing or editing campaign tracking?
  • Have you set Google Analytics date/time to UTC to match AdRoll? 

AdRoll Troubleshooting Resources:

Next, take a look at how each platform approaches reporting:



Google Analytics

Tracked metric



Tracked metric definition

When someone clicks your ad

Site visit with at least one page view, expiring after 30 minutes of inactivity

Attribution model

Tracks both click-through and view-through conversions, defaulting to a last-touch attribution model

Tracks only click-through conversions, defaulting to a last-click attribution model

How it works

Attributes a conversion to the most recent AdRoll advertisement click or view

Attributes a conversion to the most recent clicked ad across the entire marketing mix. If no ad is clicked leading to the session, the conversion is attributed to ‘Direct’

Attribution window

Defaults to 30-day click conversion window, 7-day view conversion window

Defaults to a 30-day click conversion window

Cross-device attribution approach

Uses a combination of deterministic and probabilistic cross-device matching

Google Analytics does not have cross-device tracking capabilities. This means that if a user clicks a mobile ad, then visits the site on a desktop browser, Google Analytics tracks that as:

  • Two separate users
  • A direct conversion

Understanding the discrepancies between AdRoll and Google Analytics

Advertisers commonly find discrepancies between AdRoll and Google Analytics when it comes to Facebook metrics. Here are some possible problems you may encounter, along with possible solutions: 

AdRoll reports more clicks or conversions than Google Analytics for Facebook:

  • Unless UTMs are appended to the ad destination URL, Facebook clicks are attributed to “Direct” traffic in Google Analytics.
  • Cookies placed in a user’s primary browser are not accessible to in-app browsers causing the user to be viewed as two distinct users in Google Analytics
  • When someone clicks from a HTTPS environment and enters a HTTP environment, the referrer URL can’t be recorded by Google Analytics.
  • Google Analytics is not cross-device aware. So if a user clicks an ad on their mobile device, but later converts on their desktop computer, AdRoll will attribute the click-through conversion to AdRoll, but Google will consider the mobile phone and the desktop sessions to be from different users, and attribute the conversion to direct.  

AdRoll reports more clicks than Google Analytics reports visitors:

  • A single visitor clicked your ads multiple times
  • A visitor clicked your ad, but then stopped or left the page before it loaded
  • A visitor navigates away before Google Analytics tracking code executes
  • A visitor opted out of Google Analytics tracking, but not AdRoll tracking 

AdRoll reports fewer clicks than Google Analytics reports visitors:

  • A visitor clicked an ad, then during a different session returned directly to the site via a bookmark or typing directly into the web browser. In this case, the ad is still attributed for the first visit, so the initial click results in more than one visit.

How to account for discrepancies between AdRoll and Google Analytics

Here are some tips for understanding the reporting discrepancies in your own account.

  • Focus on AdRoll click conversions as Google Analytics only attributes credit to click conversions.
  • To find AdRoll-attributed click conversions in Google Analytics, combine the last click and assisted conversions. Navigate to Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions.  Sum the last click and assisted conversions attributed to AdRoll and compare to AdRoll reported click-through conversions.
  • AdRoll will most likely still report more click-through conversions than Google Analytics. Add a dimension (e.g. source/medium) to drill into which inventory source (e.g. Web/Facebook), then compare this to AdRoll Web- and Facebook-attributed click-through conversions. Typically, AdRoll Web conversions match closely with AdRoll-attributed Web conversions.
  • Assuming we’ve isolated the discrepancy to Facebook, click into the AdRoll Facebook line item in the assisted conversions report, then add a secondary dimension of Device Category.
  • Compare to AdRoll’s placement report. The discrepancy is usually isolated to the Facebook mobile placements due to the reasons previously outlined.
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