GA4 Limitations: Channel Data Collection & Conversion Tracking Challenges

Are you noticing discrepancies between the number of clicks reported in Google Ads and the number of users reported in…

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GA4 limitations

Are you noticing discrepancies between the number of clicks reported in Google Ads and the number of users reported in GA4? Or are you concerned that GA4 isn’t capturing data accurately across different countries? You’re not alone; many marketers are facing these issues, especially as digital privacy regulations tighten and we move towards a cookie-less future. 

For instance, the iOS updates impacted Facebook’s ability to target consumers effectively, leading to an 11.8% decrease in return on investment for advertisers. This trend is not limited to Facebook; it’s also a significant issue in Google Analytics (GA4), where there are noticeable disparities between clicks from Google Ads and user data recorded by GA4. This makes web performance analysis and conversion tracking challenging. 

In this blog, we’ll explore these challenges and provide solutions to improve your web analytics and conversion tracking practices, specifically through Google Ads using native AW Tags and by setting up other vital tracking pixels. 

Why Comparing Clicks to Users Isn’t Always Accurate 

A single user can generate multiple clicks, so directly comparing Google Ads clicks to GA4 user data can be misleading. If you want to investigate this further:

Log in to your GA4 property.

  • Navigate to Reports > Acquisition > Overview.
  • Check the “Sessions Google Ads campaign” report to see Google Ads click data, which should match the data in your Google Ads account.

Geographic Discrepancies in Reporting

Google Ads, GA4 and other platforms handle location data differently:

  • Google Ads combines IP address data with GPS for more accurate location tracking.
  • Google Analytics primarily uses IP addresses, which can be inaccurate if users employ VPNs or if ISPs misassign IPs. This often results in traffic from unintended countries appearing in GA4.

Setting Up Native Conversion Tracking on Google Ads

With the limitations of GA4 for conversion tracking, setting up conversions in Google Ads is crucial. Here’s how to do it:

Log into your Google Ads account.

  • Go to Tools and Settings > Conversions > New conversion action > Website.
  • Enter your company URL to scan for existing thank-you pages or similar.
  • Add a new conversion action for page loads where the URL contains “thank-you”.
  • Adjust settings as necessary to capture the desired conversion events.

Extending Tracking Beyond GA4

To ensure comprehensive data tracking coverage and optimise your campaigns further, consider installing additional pixels:

  • LinkedIn Pixel: Helpful for B2B campaigns, it allows you to refine your ad targeting based on professional demographics.
  • Facebook Pixel: Essential for granular audience targeting based on social interactions and user behaviours.
  • TikTok Pixel: Optimises ad performance by tracking user actions that signify campaign effectiveness on the platform.

Each pixel can be installed by adding the respective code to the <head> section of your website, similar to the Google Ads setup.

Troubleshooting and Data Tracking Alternatives

If you encounter issues with tracking, using a CRM to integrate with Google Ads can help attribute conversions accurately. Alternatively, tools like Zapier can facilitate integration with almost any platform.

For an alternative to GA4, consider Fathom Analytics for a privacy-focused, comprehensive view of your site’s performance across all channels.

A Final Note

Navigating the complexities of data tracking and conversion optimisation can be daunting. If you need assistance or have any questions about setting up your web analytics correctly, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help.

Remember, by expanding your tracking capabilities beyond GA4 with tools like Google Ads conversions and various social media pixels, you can gain a more complete picture of your campaign performance and make more informed marketing decisions.

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