Google Analytics is Google's freemium web analytics service used for tracking and reporting website traffic. Integrating Google Analytics with Smartly.io will allow you to sync this information to the tool, and thus report and optimize on Google Analytics metrics. This article and the related sub-articles give a basic overview of Google Analytics and how to integrate it to Smartly.
How Google Analytics tracking works
GA tracking is based on UTM tags (or URL tags), which are appended at the end of an ad's link URL. The general workflow is as follows:
- UTM tags are added to campaign tracking parameters during campaign creation in Smartly.io
- The UTM tags are sent to Facebook in a single text field as a property of the ad creative
- The tags are added to paid ads
- A Facebook user clicks the ad link in Facebook, visits the landing page, and data from the UTM tags is sent to Google Analytics, becoming visible there
- Smartly.io syncs the data a single day at a time, with the previous four (4) days of results overwritten.
Out of the available UTM tags, the following are mandatory for GA tracking to work correctly:
utm_id (required for the Smartly.io <> Google Analytics integration)
- this tag needs to contain either the Facebook Ad ID or Smartly.io Ad ID for us to be able to connect the GA numbers to the correct ad
It's also important to note that UTM tags are case sensitive, so, for example, utm_source=Facebook does NOT equal utm_source=facebook
To learn more about how UTM tags work and implementing them, have a look at this article.
How the data is fetched & connected to ads
In the integration settings, the advertiser connects Smartly.io to their Google Analytics account, and selects the following settings (see detailed instructions here):
- Google Analytics View: this limits Smartly.io's access to only a certain portion of your GA data
- The UTM tag that contains the required ad ID (either Smartly.io Ad ID or Facebook Ad ID)
If you can't see Google Analytics stats for your ads, please make sure that the above settings are selected correctly. See instructions in the article How to set up Google Analytics in Smartly.io.
The data is fetched and refreshed from Google Analytics roughly every 2 hours. Note: this may vary due to congestion in our systems, as well as rate limiting by Google's servers. It is currently not possible to make the syncs more frequent, due to the rate limiting issue. Google's servers also often have congestion – please have patience, and if data does not appear for a long time, contact our customer support.
Google Analytics hierarchy
Google Analytics 4 is organized in a hierarchy, explained by Google in detail here.
- Organization (optional)
- Analytics account
- Analytics property
- Analytics account
A Google Analytics 4 property represents an app and/or website – meaning that one property can gather data from multiple data streams, like a website, an iOS app and an Android app, which all are just different ways to access the same service.
In contrast, the old Universal Analytics properties could only be used for websites. The hierarchy for them is/was as follows:
Account - The topmost level of the hierarchy and the access point to Analytics
Property - Individual sites, applications or devices or sections of them that you have grouped together with a property ID. If the same property ID is used for multiple sites, their stats will be grouped together.
- Views - Your site/app or portions of it, with definitions of what traffic is included in the data and how it's processed. Tracking, goals, attribution etc. are configured on the view-level. This is the access point to reports in GA, and you have to choose the view you want to see metrics for in Smartly.io account settings under "Google Analytics".
- Property - Individual sites, applications or devices or sections of them that you have grouped together with a property ID. If the same property ID is used for multiple sites, their stats will be grouped together.
Google Analytics has several default metrics that will be tracked automatically, and do not need to be configured separately. These are the following:
Session - A group of user interactions with your website that takes place within a given timeframe. A single session can include multiple page views, events, social interactions and e-commerce transactions.
- Sessions can expire after 30 minutes of inactivity (or at midnight), or by arriving to the website through a different campaign
- Separate devices are by default treated as a separate user/session, and thus have different Client IDs
Bounce - Single-page session on your site. It is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request on the Analytics server, for example when opening a website and exiting without triggering any other requests.
- The length of a bounce session will always be 0. Note: Bounces are a subset of sessions, so they are also included in the session counts!
- Bounces are not always a bad sign. Blog posts, for example, are based on just viewing a single web page, but for eCommerce websites, this may be a bad signal.
- Bounce rate = Single page sessions / All sessions
Transaction - Conversions on your website or app. Generally speaking Transactions in Google Analytics are the same thing as the "Purchase" Pixel event in Facebook.
- Note: Transaction events will NOT show up if your E-commerce tracking has not been implemented, more about this here.
Transaction Revenue – The revenue of the conversions on your website or app.
- Note: If you want to pass a Revenue value with each transaction, this needs to be configured in the sending of the Transaction event.
- Page views - Instances of pages being loaded or reloaded in a browser
- Users - The number of individual users engaging with your site or app
- New users - The number of users that load your website content for the first time on a device (desktop, laptop, smartphone) or a browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer)
In addition to these default metrics, Goals can also be configured on the view-level in order to track for example specific actions in your app, or the amount of times a contact form has been submitted. As these are set on the view-level, make sure you have selected the correct view in Google Analytics settings when trying to run reports on these metrics. The following are good to keep in mind about goals:
- There is a limit of 20 goals per view
- Goals can have monetary value
- Goals do not backfill, so they only start accumulating after the goal has been set up in GA
- The same holds if you edit a goal - the changes will only be reflected from the editing point onwards