First and foremost, it's essential to understand that discrepancies between TikTok Ads Manager and third party (3P) reporting tools, like Google Analytics, are expected. This is due to myriad reasons, including different metric definitions, methodologies, and platform nuances.
This article helps explain why these discrepancies exist; however, the goal should never be to reconcile the two numbers but instead understand why they exist and how to use both numbers to help inform your media decisions.
While related, it's important to note that TikTok Clicks and Google Analytics Page Views are different metrics and therefore will always vary. As a third party, Google Analytics may have different definitions of their metrics, even with the same name. When comparing data sources, it is important to understand each platform's metric definitions and why differences exist.
Depending on the ad type used, clicks and interactions with an ad can be handled in two different ways. With our Spark Ads product, swiping left, clicking on the nickname, or clicking on the profile photo will direct to the brands' TikTok profile page, while clicks on the Call-to-Action button or caption will lead to the brand's chosen external landing page. However, with our Non-Spark in-feed video ads, each of these clicks would direct the user directly to the brand's landing page.
While the Spark Ads experience is designed to be more native for the user, there are instances where the user may attempt to interact with a Non-Spark Ad in a similar way - without intending to leave the TikTok environment. In those cases, some users may decide not to continue loading the landing page. Based on this user behavior, we expect a bit more of a gap between TikTok "clicks" and landing page visits captured by 3P trackers for clients using Non-Spark Ads. This does not indicate that either tracking method is set up incorrectly but just accounts for the fact that there are more opportunities for a user to initiate the process of being taken to the landing page with Non-Spark Ad types.
If you are seeing a high level of clicks on your ad with a lower number of page views in your 3P reporting, one helpful insight is that users are likely looking to continue interacting with your brand's content on TikTok. This is a great opportunity to take advantage of that interest and think more about what your organic presence on TikTok looks like. Switching to a Spark Ads strategy will then allow users to more easily continue that journey with your brand's TikTok presence.
For brands who are not ready to fully build out their organic presence, we are also offering our "mock-up profile page" in an open beta release. If you are interested, please speak with your TikTok team, and they can help you determine if this is a solution might be right for you.
Similar to Spark Ads, in an oCPM campaign (ie a campaign using automated bidding), there are fewer click methods to reach the external landing page, making those clicks more intentional to interact with the brand off-app. This can contribute to fewer clicks where the user is merely exploring but not dedicated to interaction.
Considerations: A low bounce rate does not mean the user did not view your page, but that there was no interaction after the initial click. Depending on how the landing page is structured, this may be the natural design or flow of the user experience. For example, if the external landing page is an article or a product description, the user may read the intended material and still be considered a "bounce" from the page.
Given that TikTok’s pixel is multi-session (conversions that did not happen immediately after an ad click but still occurred within the conversion window), advertisers may see discrepancies between their third-party reporting tools (like Google Analytics) and TikTok Ads Manager. While these discrepancies may seem like an issue, they are expected for a number of reasons described below.
First and foremost, however, ensure you are correctly using UTM parameters within your TikTok ads. This will allow the 3P reporting tool to start capturing TikTok conversions (albeit with some limitation described below) and it's important they are applied to all of your landing page URLs.
A common reason for discrepancies between to two platforms is that UTM tags only capture single-session conversions, and TikTok captures multi-session conversions. This means that for TikTok to receive credit in Google Analytics, the user must click on an ad, then convert immediately. Conversely, TikTok will record conversions in Ads Manager when a user clicks and then later returns to the website and completes the conversion within 24 hours.
Given that many users do research after discovering a product via a TikTok ad, multi-session conversions often account for the majority of conversions in TikTok Ads Manager. These conversions are not recorded in GA or the 3P tool and are attributed to other channels.
TikTok ad clicks often lead to opening a webpage within TikTok’s in-app browser. Similar to other apps, these in-app browsers sometimes block Google Analytics from logging the proper referral channel.
For example, a user may click on a TikTok ad which will open the URL in the TikTok browser rather than taking you to the external site. In these instances, Google Analytics may not always recognize that the user has accessed the website via TikTok, and instead record it as organic or direct traffic. TikTok, however, will always recognize itself as the referrer and correctly log all conversions that resulted from a TikTok ad click.
People may discover a product or service on TikTok, then search for that product/service on a search engine and complete the purchase. If the attribution settings are last click in GA (which is the default), the channel with the last touchpoint will often get the full conversion credit and TikTok will receive none. Due to this, TikTok conversions in Google Analytics or the 3P tool are often underreported.
TikTok and Google Analytics have different attribution methodologies. At TikTok, attribution is comprised of a lot of matching methods including email, phone, IP, UA, and other techniques. On the other hand, Google Analytics attributions are based on cookies and UTM trackers, with even some channels receiving modeled conversions. These different methodologies often result in different conversion numbers.
Certain ad-blocking software may block tracking mechanisms used by many analytics tools, including Google Analytics. As a result, analytics tools may not be able to accurately track all user sessions, and TikTok sessions may be attributed to other channels.
Conversions on TikTok are reported based on the impression time of the ad that led to the conversion. Depending on how and when a 3rd party tracks conversions, you may see different metrics for conversion and attribution if they report based on time of conversion or another metric.
When setting up your TikTok Ads Manager account, you are instructed to determine a time zone. If the time zone on your TikTok Ads Manager account varies from the time zone in Google Analytics or your 3P reporting tool, this can impact the recorded metrics as well.