facebook website clicks ad

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Facebook Website Clicks vs Google Analytics (and others)

Give me my money back! Facebook’s reports for website clicks ambiguous, bogus, rubbish and inaccurate! Google analytics has a completely different number of visitors in mind!

See what I did back there, I highlighted the two fundamental keywords to this post.


Let’s face it, you’ve run some Facebook ads and you’ve opted in for “website clicks”. Building web traffic rather than aiming for page likes and post engagement. That’s great, until you’ve realized that the Facebook report for website clicks has very little to do with your Google Analytics (or any other third party analytics tool, for that manner) report for website visitors.

          1.Differing statistics or methodologies

Facebook reports ad clicks, while third parties, such as Google Analytics report website visits or page views. You may wonder why every ad clicks is not registered as a visit. After all, Facebook claims that someone saw the ad, clicked the ad, and was directed to your landing page.

One explanation is that third party tracking software often demands that the user’s browser has enabled cookies and JavaScript in order to accurately record the visits. This can potentially result in showing a lesser amount of visitors, compared to the amount of Facebook clicks. This Google documentation explains about data discrepancies between AdWords and Analytics – yeah, that also exists!

In addition, using referral URLs to track your campaigns does not necessarily paint the most accurate picture. Looking for facebook.com in referral traffic, for example, will most definitely yield different statistics than the ones offered by Facebook. Here is how you can improve your Google Analytics tracking.

          2.Incorrectly installed/applied third party tracking

Depending on your level of expertise, it’s quite possible you missed something. You can always install two or more statistical tools in order to verify data. Slimstat is a popular free analytics tool that you can try together with Google Analytics.

          3.Facebook Ads click quality measures

Evidently, some people have complained that Facebook shows them fewer clicks than visits they see on their third party tracking tools. So, as unpopular as that may be, it could be attributed to Facebook’s superior quality measures meant to reduce invalid clicks. Those include repetitive and incomplete clicks by users.

What you should take from this, as the most serious of arguments, is that Facebook Ads reports clicks and third party analytic tools report visitors and page views.

Where is the OBJECTIVITY?!

But, I don’t care what Facebook says, they are biased. I want to know the objective truth!

Oh well, I want sugar free, 0 calorie chocolate bar that tastes like freedom…but all I get is a kale and ginger salad.

the objective truth facebook

Okay, here are a few truths:

  • Filters in your analytics software might be preventing accurate reports by removing some data.
  • The above mentioned cookies and JavaScript are a worthy excuse.
  • Some users might be clicking on your ads more than once.
  • Users (Ad clickers) might have bounced before your tracking code has managed to register them. Check the speed of your landing page.
  • Make sure you are looking at the same daily intervals when comparing statistics. It is possible that your analytics tools and Facebook reflect different time zones.
  • Too much AJAX on your landing page.
  • Sometimes the Google Analytics pixel does not fire

So, wait, Facebook fake clicks, YES or NO?

fake facebook click

I think no. There are some conspiracy theorists running around claiming that Facebook is not fixing this issue because they are getting filthy rich by fake clicks. I don’t think that’s the case.

I do agree that there are issues that need a more immediate attention, such as fake accounts and bots. However, I don’t think it is in Facebook’s interest to manipulate clicks. Their objective is to establish themselves as a reliable and effective advertising platform. This is why they are pushing advertisers to bid with optimized CPM, rather than pay-per-click.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself. A bit of history.

Are you looking at Facebook Ad Clicks or Facebook Website Clicks?

Can you even look at this stuff anymore? Not since July 2015! Facebook released an update to their API in order to improve the definition of CPC (Cost-Per-Click).

If you want your ad campaign to drive traffic to your website, select Send people to your website > Clicks to Website. This is your only option now.

facebook website clicks

What Was the Facebook Ad Click?

It was a little parasite devoted to completely disintegrate your analytical data and make you pluck whatever hair you’ve got left on the top of your head.

  • Post likes
  • Page likes
  • Post shares
  • Post comments
  • Expanding the description or
  • Clicking to read the comments

All of the above parasites were considered clicks, but then we came out of the Stone Age. Likes, shares and comments are no longer considered clicks. Below is an image of what your report dashboard might have looked like some 6 months ago.

facebook ad clicks

If you optimize for Website Clicks, you will get a different report:

facebook website clicks

The updated definition of CPC now includes:

  • Clicks to visit another website
  • Call-to-action clicks (such as, Shop Now) that take you to a landing page/website
  • Clicks to install an app
  • Clicks to Facebook canvas apps
  • Clicks to view a video on another website

mind blown

In other words, all the good stuff.

So, are you comparing apples to oranges?

It is important to distinguish between clicks reported by Facebook’s ad server and visits reported by GA. The former simply refers to how many times the ad was clicked, while the latter reveals the number of unique sessions initiated by each visitor.

For example, the same user could click multiple times on the same Facebook ad. Each and every click will be recorded by Facebook, however, Google Analytics will only recognize the separate pageviews as on visit.

Why you should learn to live with these discrepancies.

At the very base of any business is the cost per acquisition of a new client. The metric that matters is CPC, or Cost-Per-Customer (new customer that is).  As long as your ROI from Facebook Ads makes sense, stop stressing over clicks.

It is useful to understand clicks in order to improve landing page CTR and conversion rates and to optimize for newsletter signups. Beyond that, you should be looking at the bigger picture – money spent and money earned.

Going forward

  1. Facebook Ads is becoming an extremely powerful platform for advertisers who know their target audience. Create your buyer’s persona before you start spending!
  2. You need to assign a sufficient budget to your campaign and let it run longer than a week. This will produce more reliable data for analysis. What is sufficient? That is for you to decide based on the knowledge of your target industry.
  3. Take advantage of Google’s customer campaigns and GA utm parameters in order to better track your data.

Nikola Stefanov

Nikola is the Co-founder @ Inbound Avenue and a dedicated digital marketer by nature.
Nikola Stefanov

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