This is a transcript of episode 72 of the Let’s Get Data-Driven Podcast
I’m Lanie Lamarre and we’re kicking it today with another Office Hours question where Ashley wanted to know: “Can having Google Analytics installed on my site increase my Google ad cost?”. and we’re gonna answer her because that’s how Office Hours roll, kids!
OK, so can and does having Google Analytics installed on your website increase your Google ad cost?
Let’s start off by pointing out that Google Analytics and Google Ads are obviously designed to fit into each other and be compatible. In fact, if you’re using another analytics platform – which I recommend and I explain why on episode 53 – Google isn’t going to make it easy on you to report on your Google Ads.
This is yet another reason why you want to use UTM parameters with any of the links that you share to track your marketing campaigns, and this is especially true of campaigns you’re paying for like Google Ads. No matter what analytics platform you’re using, having UTM parameters and analytics goals in place allows you to be intentional about tracking your ad campaign performance, your way.
What are UTM parameters? These are little snippets of code you add to the links you share that allow you to keep track of your marketing efforts and performance, and we cover anything and everything you want to know about them in the Membership To Get Data-Driven so if you want to learn more, you can click on the link in the shownotes or you can go to trackitlikeitowesyou.com because your marketing efforts probably do.
Now, even if you are using Google Analytics and Google Ads, you’ll probably have to cross-reference information like link clicks and ad spend because the numbers will rarely match up, even when you’re paying for Google’s ads and they’re being measured by Google Analytics. This isn’t entirely Google’s fault and there are a lot of reasons why your data will never be 100% accurate, including people’s use of ad or pixel blockers, among many other reasons that your performance data is not an exact science.
Meanwhile, when you’re intentional about your tracking with the use of UTM parameters and you’re able to see your own sales with 100% certainty – after all, the number of invoices you had to issue and money deposited into your account are THE most reliable report of the “sales made” metric, right? You KNOW when someone paid you in a way that the pixels will never have the same certainty around.
This is why when you hire an ad agency to run Google or Facebook ads for you, you can expect them to have their own spreadsheet and reporting. It is extra work to generate your own ad reports but it’s also a whole lot more accurate than what these platforms are able to report on because they simply can’t report on #allthethings and they certainly can’t do it with the accuracy you can when you’re intentional about your tracking and use of UTMs.
But what about Ashley’s actual question, which was “can having GA installed on my site increase my Google Ad costs?”
If the question is “can it”, I would say that yes, technically Google would be able to see what you can afford to spend on ads based on your Google Analytics reports and that could impact what you pay for your Google Ads.
If the question is “does it”, the answer is that I don’t know and neither does anyone who isn’t sitting at the Google Cool Kids table. How algorithms are configured and ad costs are determined are meant to be a mystery to the rest of us, so unless Google comes out and says as much (which I doubt they would ever do), it’s impossible to know for sure.
But the fact of the matter is that when you use Google Analytics and you run Google Ads, Google then has plenty of information at their disposal as to how much you can afford to spend on ads because they have access to how much money you’re generating from your offers.
Is this clean-cut answer Ashley was looking for? I’m certain it isn’t.
That’s how the tracking cookie crumbles with personal information, though: you don’t always know or have clarity around how that information is being used. This is why legislation like GDPR is so important – and why companies like Google are in hot water over these laws – because these privacy laws state that personal information can’t be used for purposes other than what it was collected for, and that people have to consent to how that information is being used. It’s an interesting time to be sitting front row to see how all the decisions and pushes are being made, and as much as these laws are meant to protect the consumer, you can see how they also impact you, the business owner, who is collecting this information.
You want to know how this information is being used as well. Not just because you want to act like a human bring online, but because it actually CAN impact your bottom line.
And if you’re looking to have more agency and intentionality over how you’re marketing, there’s a link in the shownotes to check out the Membership To Get Data-Driven or you can go to trackitlikeitowesyou.com and we’ll talk soon – baiiiieeee!