LinkedIn Ads & The Google Analytics Dilemma

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If you have been running LinkedIn ads and use a tracking service like Google Analytics to track user behavior and measure ROI, you need to account for the difference in clicks that Google analytics and the LinkedIn ad dash board shows you.

Let’s take an example to understand what I am trying to say.

I ran a LinkedIn ad campaign for one of my clients in the month of July and August 2012. Here’s what the LinkedIn ad dashboard reflects.

If you look under the “clicks” column, you will see that all my ad variations have received a total of 133 clicks.

A Google analytics expert will always tell you to UTM tag your ad copies to easily track them on the GA dashboard. I followed the advice and put three parameters, source=linkedin, medium=smm and campaign=asiasenior.

Here’s what the GA dashboard showed me:

Do you see the difference? The LinkedIn dashboard shows me 133 clicks and for the same set of ads for the same period, GA shows 116 visits!

This difference got me a little curious primarily for two reasons:

  1. Is the analytics tool designed by Google not reliable?
  2. Is LinkedIn charging me for more clicks than there really have been on my ads?

Here’s the answer to the above dilemma.

  1. It’s important to see how Google Analytics defines ‘visits’. Here’s what the analytics support blog says – A visit is a group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame. And what’s important to know is that the timeframe expires after 30 minutes. This means that if the same visitor after clicking on my ad, comes to my website within 30 minutes, GA doesn’t treat it as a visit. But it’s still an ad click, by an individual who has already clicked on the ad in a span of 30 mins.
  2. Here’s what LinkedIn says about ads being shown on the platform:


So LinkedIn says that none of its members see the same set of ads more than once a day. Well, as much as the system tries, I have seen the same set of ads multiple times a day on LinkedIn. However, what’s interesting is the fact that LinkedIn says it doesn’t invoice advertisers if clicks are from the same IP.

Let’s try and verify this claim.

According to the LinkedIn ad dashboard, 133 people have clicked on my ads and I have been invoiced for all of these clicks. But according to analytics, only 116 people visited my website via the ad landing page. So does this imply that there were 17 clicks by a set of unique users within a span of 30 minutes? If yes, then I should have not been invoiced for the same!

However, here’s the catch, my ad campaign had 3 ad variations. And for each variation the URL tags were the same. So this leaves us with just one possibility – As LinkedIn members were shown different sets of ads from the same ad campaign, 17 additional clicks were a result of unique users clicking different set of ads and coming to the website within a period of 30 minutes.

So LinkedIn is right when they say that they do not invoice advertisers for clicks from same IP but the catch is this clause only incudes individual ads and not all ads in a campaign. The only solution to this is to have just one ad per campaign but you will never be able to optimize the campaign if you rely on just one ad copy. So just trust publishers :-)

Have you come across a similar scenario with a publisher or third party advertiser? Do let us know in the comments section below.

4 responses

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  1. This is amazing, I stumbled upon this post and i’m glad I went through it. This is very informative..

  2. Pardon me, but I have a doubt, if the visitor from the SAME IP is clicking the SAME AD( not a variation) AFTER 30 MINS, then is it classified as a new click in Linkedin..

  3. Very useful information, its great somebody pointed out this difference between the two dashboards. Great Post Mr. Rohit.

  4. Wow! You had me scared when you put forth the conflicting GA and LinkedIn numbers; till the last part, which I think is the real reason for this particular anomaly. You say you had 3 ad variations. That’s the elephant in the room my friend! LinkedIn looks at the ads themselves which is the reason why additional numbers have always been present! I think LinkedIn might address this in the future, perhaps maybe make a few changes to their ad policies.

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