As digital marketers, we know that collecting accurate data is essential to the success of our PPC campaigns. However, with user privacy regulations becoming more stringent and third-party tools being embedded in the marketing/sales process, collecting 100% accurate PPC data has become increasingly challenging.
In this blog post, we will discuss the main factors involved in PPC data inaccuracies, the common issues advertisers face, and our recommended approach to maintaining the most accurate data possible to drive your campaigns forward.
Factors in data inaccuracies
There are several factors involved in PPC data inaccuracies. We’ve broken down the common factors below to give you an idea of what these factors are and the impact they can have on our campaign reporting:
|What it is||The impact|
|Cookie Consent||Websites are now required to get consent from visitors to store or retrieve their information. This was designed to provide consumers with more transparency and choice around how their data is collected and used online.||Cookies are used in PPC campaigns to measure ad performance and personalize ads. If the opt-in rate is low on cookie consent, 200 clicks from Google Ad could result in only 100 website sessions being tracked, for example. This impacts the actual CPA and ROAS reported from the campaign.|
|iOS App Tracking Transparency (ATT)||On Apple iOS 14.5 or later devices, apps must ask for permission before tracking activity across other 3rd party websites. Consumers are given the choice whether they want their data shared for advertising purposes.||The impact is greatest on paid social platforms like Facebook and Instagram where PPC campaigns run primarily in-app. When iOS users opt out of tracking, campaign personalization and conversion reporting is limited. There is less data sharing, a narrowed attribution window, and delayed reporting of up to 3 days.|
|Conversion Attribution Settings||Google Ads and Analytics attribute conversions differently. Google Ads uses the last Google Ads click, but Analytics uses the last click across all channels.||Different attribution settings impact the accuracy of conversions reported across your PPC platforms vs. Analytics.|
|Conversion Action Configuration||Typically conversion actions for PPC campaigns will be set up in Google Tag Manager using tags and triggers. The trigger fires when the desired action takes place.||If conversion tags and triggers are set up incorrectly they can misfire, causing duplicate conversions to be recorded, or no conversions recorded at all.|
|Where Conversions Take Place||PPC campaigns can either direct a user to a website/dedicated landing page, or use features like click-to-call ad extensions, lead forms, and messaging ads in which case the lead is captured directly within the PPC platform.||Conversions reported in the advertising platform will be higher compared to what’s shown in Analytics if conversions occurred directly within the PPC platform. Integrating PPC platforms with your CRM will help sync conversions that aren’t captured on your website.|
Common issues advertisers face
Based on the recent changes to data tracking and user privacy online, the common issues advertisers may encounter are:
- Misalignment between Analytics and publisher platforms like Google, Meta, LinkedIn, TikTok and Twitter
- Misalignment between publisher platform reporting and third-party tools (HubSpot, Salesforce, Pardot, etc)
- Misalignment between publisher platform/Analytics and business data (i.e. total qualified leads, total sales)
- Misalignment between conversion attribution based on how the customer initially visited your website vs. how they converted
Our recommended approach
With the above issues in mind, it’s difficult to achieve 100% accurate PPC data. However, with the right setup & ongoing Q/A process, awareness of platform features & best practices, and optimization strategies using trend analysis, you’ll maintain the most accurate data possible.
Here is our recommended approach to data accuracy:
A proper conversion setup process
The first step is ensuring you set up your PPC conversion tracking correctly. We recommend using Google Tag Manager to set up your conversion tags and triggers so that you can organize all of your website’s tracking codes in one container and use the same triggers across your various platforms like Analytics, Google, Meta, and LinkedIn. This will ensure that whether a user arrives from a paid source or organic source, the same conversion trigger will fire when they submit a form, or make a purchase.
Google Tag Manager also allows you to test any tracking codes you create before publishing them on your live site. This testing phase, using GTM’s preview and debug mode, is essential to ensuring accurate conversion tracking for your PPC campaigns.
Whether you’re looking to clean up your Google Tag Manager account or need to set up an account from scratch, this is a key first step in maintaining accurate conversion reporting from your PPC campaigns.
A rigorous conversion Q/A process
Once your conversion tags are set up and tested for accuracy, it’s important to review your conversion tags on a regular basis in case issues arise.
If a form button or thank you page URL is changed on your website, for example, this can impact how the conversion tracking code will fire.
By developing a recurring Q/A process you’ll catch and resolve conversion tracking issues as quickly as possible. You can even leverage automation using a tool like Optmyzr to detect & notify you when conversion drops and/or spikes occur.
Following best practices from publishers
While the majority of privacy & data sharing regulations are outside advertisers’ control, we can rely on publisher features and best practices to make our data as accurate as possible.
We recommend reviewing and implementing recommended best practices with regards to user privacy policies and how to best track data given the current regulations. For example, using Google’s enhanced conversion feature, or Facebook’s Conversion API, can help improve the accuracy of conversion reporting.
We also recommend integrating your PPC platforms with your CRM, when possible, to give you more insight into your overall marketing funnel, leverage first-party data, and associate any offline conversion data to your campaigns.
Strategic trend analysis and optimization
Lastly, we recommend analyzing trends within your campaign data rather than relying on micro-level data to dictate your optimization strategies. A trend analysis framework will allow you to focus your time on prioritizing optimizations that strategically drive more qualified conversions for your business.
As user privacy regulations and third-party tools continue to evolve, achieving 100% accurate PPC data becomes increasingly difficult. However, by understanding the main factors involved in data inaccuracies and developing a robust process to maintain the most accurate data possible, marketers can continue to make informed decisions and optimize their campaigns to drive more qualified conversions for their business.
If you don’t know where to start, send us a message; we are ready to make your life better!