Why is there a difference between Outbrain reporting and Google Analytics?

Discrepancies between Outbrain click reporting and Google Analytics reports are normal (and expected) because of differences in reporting methodologies. Still, should follow similar data trends.  

Below, we've listed a few common reasons for discrepancies and how to reduce the gaps in data when possible. 

Google Analytics Sessions vs. Outbrain Clicks
There is a distinction between Clicks recorded by Outbrain and Visits/Sessions recorded by Google Analytics. Outbrain records a Click anytime a user clicks a content recommendation on a publisher site, while Google Analytics records a single Session/Visit for all user interactions within a given time frame (which expires after 30 minutes of inactivity). For example, if a user reaches the marketer's site through Outbrain twice within that time frame, they will only be recorded as one Session/Visit. 

Ensure the Google Analytics code is implemented across your whole site and at the top of each page. 
Add the code to the header of each page, including home pages, section fronts and mobile pages. Implementing the code too far down on your web page will result in missed clicks if the page isn't loaded in full. Click here to ensure that the code is implemented properly on your site.


Keep your Google Analytics code up-to-date
Check the latest GA script code from Google is in use, as shown here. Make sure you add the UA and Domain attribute as described on that page.

Partial page loads
If a user navigates away from the site before the page is fully loaded and the Google Analytics tracking code executes, a click will still be counted towards your Outbrain traffic.

Session timeouts
Google Analytics's sessions are timed out after 30 minutes of inactivity. If a user leaves a site and then comes back after 30 minutes, it will be counted as two sessions.

Bookmarked pages
Users may click on an ad, bookmark your site, and come back later during a different session. In Google Analytics, this would be counted as 2 separate sessions while Outbrain will only count this as one click.  

Optimize for mobile
Keep loading times in mind. If it takes a mobile ad to load more than 4 seconds, expect over a 25% dropoff from click to pageview. Here are some tips to keep in mind to optimize your mobile UX!

Analyze your web page speed & performance
Delays in page load time can lead to gaps in Outbrain clicks vs. Analytics sessions. Google's PageSpeed Insights provides suggestions for optimizations. 

User browser preferences
Visitors may have set their browser privacy preferences to disable cookies, images, or JavaScript making them un-trackable by Google Analytics. The same goes for users that have installed Google's own opt-out add-on or any kind of AdBlocker.
 
Time zone differences  
Outbrain reporting is currently still based on US Eastern Time (UTC -5 hours) for all global markets. If Google Analytics is using a different time zone, the daily reporting might have some differences.
 
Outbrain UTM tag implementation
When implementing UTM tags in your campaign, add them on the campaign level, rather than the URL. Dynamic parameters are not supported on the URL level.

Change in HTTP Certificate
Outbrain uses referrer URLs to track clicks and conversions on the platform. As URLs can change depending on the security of the site, clicks may not be recorded the same. For example, when someone clicks on an ad within our network the click cannot be recorded if the user left the HTTPS environment and entered an HTTP environment. 

Paid.Outbrain ad scanner checks
Our ad scanner will crawl every link in our network at least twice a day, and show up in your Google Analytics dashboard as paid.outbrain. These clicks will result in 0 seconds spent on page as they simply crawl the link for suspicious content and fraud.

For any questions regarding your campaign data in Google Analytics, feel free to reach out to our support team for further assistance.

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