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Why Your Ad Tracking Stats May Differ (And What to Do About It)

  • Mar 07, 2019
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  • by A2 Marketing Team

As a website owner, you may notice that there’s a difference between the stats your ad-tracking software and affiliate programs report. This can be confusing when you’re trying to review how well your ads are doing, and when making important strategy decisions.

In short, this difference occurs because various platforms track clicks in distinct ways. That can sometimes result in statistics that don’t seem to match up. Fortunately, there are ways of getting around this problem – and a clearer understanding will help you optimize your ads so that they’re more effective.

In this post, we’ll explain why the metrics you see can vary from tool to tool. We’ll also discuss how you can make sure you’re getting the most accurate information possible. Let’s get to work!

Why Your Ad Tracking Stats May Sometimes Differ

Although it’s an essential process, marketing your content can often come with a high price tag. For this reason, you need to be sure that your ad campaigns are doing their job. One way of doing that is by regularly checking your ad tracking stats.

It’s likely you’ll have various platforms for doing this – but you may find that the numbers reported seem to vary. In most cases, the effectiveness of your ads is determined by the amount of ‘clicks’ each one receives. This is meant to measure the number of people who interact with it.

However, different platforms track clicks in unique ways. For example, some services make a distinction between unique and repeated clicks. Google Ads, for example, tracks every click a visitor makes and includes all of them in your overall number. In contrast, Google Analytics only registers one click per browsing session. This is known as a ‘unique’ click, and is meant to filter out repeated activity from the same user:

Session data in Google Analytics.

Your chosen platform may also automatically filter out any ‘invalid’ clicks. These usually result from automated clicking tools, robots, or other deceptive software. In addition, most tools will ignore manual clicks intended to increase your profits, or those of the website owners hosting your ads. Each platform will have its own way of determining which clicks are invalid, false, and/or manual – and this can result in inconsistent numbers.

All of this matters, because your ad tracking stats provide insight into how effective your marketing is. Inaccurate data may suggest that certain ads are performing better or worse than they actually are. This could then lead to continued investment in a low-quality content, or a failure to persist with effective campaigns.

Working towards a clearer understanding of key metrics such as ad clicks can help you better optimize your advertising efforts, improving audience engagement and conversions (and reducing wasted spending). Let’s talk more about how you can do that.

3 Ways to Ensure That You Gather More Accurate Data

Although seeing distinctions in your advertising metrics data is common, there are ways to improve the accuracy of the results you receive. In the next few sections, we’ll explore three of the most effective tactics you can implement.

1. Clearly Establish Your Goals

While it’s easy to get bogged down in the specific numbers, it’s important to keep your overall goals firmly in mind. The metrics you track can be very useful, but not everything your tools measure will directly correlate to the things you actually want to achieve.

As a business owner, it’s likely that the reason you started posting ads was to increase your conversion rates. Therefore, tracking the number of clicks that go on to become conversions is usually your most reliable way of measuring an ad’s success.

It’s also important to make sure the goals you set for yourself are reasonable and achievable. If you own a small business or a startup, it’s unlikely that you’ll be hitting high numbers at this stage. Don’t let that put you off – target lower numbers instead, as they are more likely to reflect what’s possible. You can then aim ever higher as your site continues to grow.

2. Examine the Details of Your Stats

As we mentioned earlier, each ad tracking platform will monitor the clicks you receive in a different way. One of the most direct ways to clarify your data is by closely examining your stats. Most ad tracking software will offer detailed insight into how your ads are doing – and will make their measurement techniques clear.

For example, the ever-popular Google Analytics measures ‘sessions‘ as opposed to standard clicks. In other words, repeated clicks in the same browsing session will be registered as a single interaction. Other platforms may register those clicks individually, resulting in an (apparently) higher rate of engagement.

Taking the time to explore the tools you use should help to clear up any uncertainties about the way they work. This will provide you with a better understanding of what your broad ‘front page’ numbers actually mean.

3. Implement a High-Quality Tool

One way to ensure that you’re always getting valid data is by choosing your ad-tracking tool(s) carefully. There are numerous options out there, although the Advanced Ads plugin is a particularly popular choice:

The Advanced Ads plugin.

The base service of this plugin enables you to effectively manage your existing ads. However, the Tracking add-on is what really gets the job done. Advanced Ads Tracking will disable tracking for bots and crawlers and enable tracking for individual ads, plus it’s easily integrated with just about any existing software.

Using a plugin like this will help you further clarify your stats. You can then begin to focus your attention on the kinds of ads that are working best. Spending more time and resources in this area will help to ensure that your marketing efforts continue to yield the best results.


Tracking the effectiveness of your ads is essential. However, the differing processes used by various platforms can make your job more difficult than it needs to be. ‘Clicks’ can be calculated in a number of ways, and gaining a clearer understanding of the way they work will help you produce better ads in the future.

In this post, we discussed three of the ways you can effectively clarify your ad tracking results:

  1. Focus on your specific goals, rather than the broad, overall numbers.
  2. Closely examine your chosen software to establish how it measures engagement.
  3. Use a detailed analytics tool such as Advanced Ads to gain further insight.

Image credit: Pexels.

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