Summary - The Klipfolio marketing team tracked overall spend, cost per action, and number of trials. We ended up seeing a data discrepancy between tools involved. The solution to eliminate the discrepancy between Facebook Ads and Google Analytics was simple: create URL parameters.
We’re a small digital marketing team at Klipfolio, which means we have to focus on staying lean while growing traffic and leads for the business. Of course effectively advertising on Facebook has long been on our minds, and over the past few months we gave it our best shot (Inbound.org even featured how we did it).
As with every advertising initiative we’ve tried, we monitored performance each day to ensure this would be a cost-effective avenue for us (SPOILER: it totally was).
We tracked overall spend, cost per action (CPA), number of trials, and quality of trials. All was running smoothly, until we ran into a big problem.
We found a discrepancy between what we saw in Ads Manager, Google Analytics, and Marketo—and this meant our reporting was inaccurate. We couldn’t allocate more money into our Facebook Ads program without having a better view into our performance.
Turns out, the solution to eliminate the discrepancy between Facebook Ads and Google Analytics was simple: create URL parameters. Along with that discovery we learned a few other important lessons along the way.
Use the steps below to get off to a great start, and become the Facebook Ads rockstar you were born to be.
How to track Facebook Ads in Google Analytics
Tracking your Facebook Ads in Google Analytics allows you to improve attribution from an individual ad or ad set all the way through to a conversion. And it couldn't be easier. Here are the steps to track your Facebook Ads in Google Analytics:
- Use a URL builder to create parameters
- Define your parameters based on ad, ad set, and campaign
- Generate a new URL for your ads
- Track performance in Google Analytics
Step 1 - Use a URL builder to create parameters
Start by finding a URL builder tool that works best for you—I like to use Google’s own URL builder. This is where you will create the URL parameters that you’ll be able to track in Google Analytics.
Note: While I prefer using a URL builder, Facebook also offers parameter tracking within Ads Manager and Power Editor. You can manually insert parameters to track ads, ad sets, and campaigns.
Step 2 - Define your parameters based on ad, ad set, and campaign
This is where all the magic happens. Within the URL builder tool you will:
- Type in the destination URL you want to use for your ad
- Use “facebook” as your Campaign Source
- Use either “cpc” or “cpm” as your Campaign Medium depending on how you are tracking conversions—either by click or by impressions.
- Use your Facebook Ads campaign name as your Campaign Name. This is where you will be able to monitor performance across all your Facebook campaigns.
- Use your Facebook Ads ad set name as your Campaign Term. This will allow you to track performance across ad sets.
- Use your individual ad names as your Campaign Content. This will allow you to track performance down to an individual ad.
This is what the end result should look like:
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Step 3 - Generate a new URL for your ads
Now that you’ve created your parameters, you can generate your unique URL. This is what you will use to track your performance in Facebook. Simply copy and paste this link into the destination URL section when building out your ads.
Step 4 - Track performance in Google Analytics
Now that you’ve got your parameters created and your new URL in your ads, you can start tracking your Facebook Ads performance in Google Analytics. To do this you’ll want to:
1. Go to Acquisitions
2. Click on All Traffic
3. Click on Source/Medium
4. From Primary Dimension, select the parameter you want to track by using the Other drop down and choosing the Acquisition group.
Using these steps, you’ll be able to do a deep dive into your digital advertising performance from the Campaign level all the way down to the individual ads just by adjusting the Primary Dimension. If you followed along during Step 2, Define your parameters, use the following Primary Dimensions for your reporting:
- Campaign: this will allow you to track your Facebook Ads Campaign performance
- Keyword: use this to deep dive into your ad set performance
- Ad Content: this will allow you to analyze individual ad performance
How excited are you for your next Facebook Ads report?
As many of us digital marketers know, Facebook Ads can generate a high number of qualified leads. Unfortunately, even slight discrepancies in data can make it difficult to understand whether Facebook Ads is a cost-effective channel for your team.
By refining your process and accurately creating URL parameters, you’ll be able to eliminate data discrepancies and determine the value Facebook Ads can bring to your business.
If you also need to make sure your YouTube account is properly configured in Google Analytics, check out my colleague Jonathan Taylor’s step-by-step breakdown.
Originally published March 9, 2017, updated Jun, 08 2020