The real reason Google Analytics launched multi-channel funnels

Forget all the fancy new report capabilities…the real reason why Google Analytics launched multi-channel funnels is because they got tired of having to explain why Google Analytics showed fewer conversions than Google Adwords reporting. OK I made that up, but in my years of doing web analytics this is probably THE number one question I get and I am glad I can now point folks to this post.

Despite the fact that Google Analytics and Adwords use different tracking approaches and attribution models I guess it feels “wrong” to many people that Google Analytics would show different/fewer conversions than Adwords. But instead of me trying to explain why this is the case I can just show you by way of a simple example.

I picked a week and looked at Adwords reporting

Then I looked at the same date range in Google Analytics.

Look familiar? Fewer conversions attributed to Adwords – there must be something wrong! Maybe bad tagging?

Enter MCF.

We know that Adwords takes credit for a conversion within 30 days of the initial click. Doesn’t matter if it was first touch, assist or last touch. To simulate this behavior I created a conversion segment where ANY interaction is paid search.

Now look at the data in the Assisted Conversions section.


The Paid Advertising/Adwords channel actually shows fewer Last Interaction Conversions than Google Analytics – 204 vs 219, but we know from the Google Analytics attribution model that Direct visits do not overwrite a campaign cookie. Add Paid Advertising and Direct channels and you basically get the same number: 218 vs 219. Voila – that explains the Google Analytics data.

Now, add up all channels and you get 273 conversions vs 276 from Adwords reporting. I will take that margin of error any time.

Aren’t you just itching to delve into understanding the relationship between Paid and Organic channels? But even before we attempt that, we can now reconcile Adwords and Google Analytics reporting. That’s pretty sweet…