Why Is There a Large Difference in Outbound Clicks and Page Views in GA?

Notes about investigating Page View Discrepancies

  • It is usually very difficult for Nova to analyse page visit vs outbound click discrepancies. This is because we have very little to none visibility on "post click" performance for ads. We do not control or influence this in any way
  • What happens "post click" and between firing a "View" in GA depends on several factors described below. These factors are out of our and/or DSP control
  • Nova and the DSP can only track activity on the ad itself and outbound clicks on the ad
  • Nova has no tracking scripts on landing pages
  • When our numbers and DSP numbers are at par, it shows that our ad tracking/performance is consistent with DSP tracking

Clicks Vs. Website Sessions

  • Clicks are not equal to Website Sessions, they are separate metrics and will not always be 1:1
  • Clicks are instantly captured, one click for each user interaction on the ad
  • Website sessions are the quantity of unique sessions by the user and are only captured when the tracking pixel/script on the webpage correctly fires during a page visit

Reasons for Nova Outbound numbers to be much less than Page View numbers

  • Firstly, always compare the GA Views Data to the Outbound Click Data (and not Primary click numbers) from Nova
  • Major contributors to discrepancy are:
  • There are almost always some Invalid/Fraudulent/BOT clicks on ads which fire click events but do not result in an actual page visit
  • If a user clicks on an ad but prevents the advertiser’s landing page from loading, or navigates away from the page before it can load, the view will not be recorded. A click will still be registered
  • Corrupted or no UTM values used in Landing Page URL field.
  • Below articles explain some common issues with UTM parameter configurations
  • UTMs added to Landing Page URL field AFTER the campaign has been live for some time. GA will miss the views which happened before the UTM parameters were added
  • Some websites and browsers add-ons remove tracking parameters when the URL re-directs to the site
  • Poor page speed performance that creates high bounce rates - users navigate away from the page before it fully loads - Page speed stats can be measured using this URL https://pagespeed.web.dev/
  • There can be multiple outbound clicks on the ad leading to different URLs, for each ad impression - example clicks on the social interaction and social logo leads to the social post instead of the landing page. This is only applicable of the Social Logo and Social sharing buttons are active on the creatives

More Page Views and Website sessions than Clicks (very rare)

  • DSPs sometimes incorrectly identifies Invalid/Fraudulent clicks and automatically filters them out from reports. The sessions associated with the clicks will still be reported, leading to more sessions than clicks
  • Since website sessions are a duration of time, if the user visits the site by clicking on the ad but lets the session time out before resuming activity, it will be recorded as multiple sessions and one click
    • For example, the user opens the ad, switches tabs leaving the original to run in the background, then returning to original tab after the initial session timed out
  • If the user navigates to the page through the ad, then bookmarks it, every visit using the bookmark will count as a new session

Explaining Bounce Rates using Page Speed Stats

  • Bounce Rates refer to users clicking on the ad but abandoning the click path before the site loads and Google Analytics on the page fires
  • Low landing page loading speeds are a major contributor to High bounce rates
  • Use Google Page Speed Insights to check the landing pages to see if they have poor stats
  • Anything under 50 is considered very poor
  • After clicking the ad, some users will stop, close the browser or hit the back button, before the page loads and/or before the GA tracking javascript has loaded. This effect is mostly prominent on mobile
  • If a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load, about 50% of people will abandon the page

Other Factors Affecting Google Analytics

  • Analytics may not be able to record a session if the user’s browser, device, or security settings do not support:
    • Cookies
    • JavaScript
    • Images
  • If the analytics tracking code isn’t installed on the advertiser’s landing page, sessions can’t be recorded
  • If you don’t tag your advertisement’s URL manually with UTM parameters and Google Ads’ auto-tagging isn’t enabled, sessions will not be attributed to your campaign. Instead, they will wrongly fall within the referral or organic traffic buckets

Best Practices for correct use of UTM parameters

  • No spaces should be used in URLs or UTM tags
  • The ampersand (&) separates UTM parameters and should not be used for anything else in the link
  • “+,” “-,” “_” or “%” can be used to separate words in the link
  • “#” and “=” cannot be used in a UTM tag value