For most publishers and bloggers who monetize their sites through display advertising, two Google products–Analytics and AdSense–are likely part of the everyday routine. If implemented properly, these two data sources should provide, among many other valuable metrics, some confirmation on the level of traffic coming to a site. But many notice discrepancies between the two, with one source indicating a level of traffic materially higher than the other. If AdSense is showing fewer ad impressions than your Analytics account would indicate you should be serving, it’s possible you’re leaving money on the table by failing to show ads to a portion of your audience.
Here’s a hypothetical example:
- Analytics reports that your site receiving 500,000 pageviews last month.
- AdSense reports that you served 300,000 leaderboard ads (728×90), which are at the top of every page, last month.
- Your RPM on this ad unit is $10.
- Ergo, you conclude that you may have missed out on $2,000 in revenue last month.
If you’re experiencing this frustration, there are a number of possible explanations. The best place to start is by conducting an informal audit of your site. If you notice blank spaces where ads should be when viewing your site, reason #1 or #3 below might be the most logical explanation. If everything appears to be running properly (i.e., ads are showing everywhere you think they should), reason #2 below might be a better place to start.
(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; we’ll send monetization tips straight to your inbox each day.)
Reason #1: You Screwed Up AdSense
If your Analytics dashboard is showing considerably more pageviews than AdSense is registering, it’s possible that you goofed up while implementing the ad code. There are a number of possible explanations, but the most common include:
- Code Tweaks: If you’ve changed the ad tags in any way since generating them from AdSense, you may have done something to render them ineffective. If you think this is a possibility, regenerate and reinstall each relevant set of code.
- Frames / iFrames: AdSense doesn’t allow ads to be served within iFrames, and including ads within frames may make it difficult for Google to determine the contextual content (and therefore cause it to show a blank space instead of ads).
- Ads not enabled: If you’re running ads through DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP), you need to make sure that you’ve enabled AdSense to run on any inventory that you’re not targeting directly through campaigns (Inventory >> Ad Units >> AdSense Inventory Settings). For example, if you see an ad unit in DFP with this box unchecked, you may have uncovered part of the issue.
How to Test: If one of these is responsible, you should notice blank ad spaces on your site or see a non-activated ad unit in DFP (as per the image above).
Reason #2: You Screwed Up Analytics
Another common explanation for disconnects between Analytics and AdSense is user error in setting up Analytics. This generally means that the Analytics code hasn’t been added to all pages on the site (which would likely cause the pageviews shown by AdSense to exceed the Analytics figure) or that the Analytics code appears multiple times on certain pages (which would likely cause Analytics to report larger traffic than AdSense).
Unfortunately, if the latter is the case it also means that your site is getting less traffic than you had previously thought. You’ve been double-counting (or perhaps even triple-counting) visitors in Google Analytics, while AdSense has been showing you more accurate figures.
How to Test: Ideally, you’re able to do a full audit of your site code and ensure that the proper Analytics code is included on each page. (Here’s the step-by-step guide on correct implementation.) If you want to determine if this is the cause more immediately, just check the source code (CTRL+U) on your site’s home page and other popular pages, and do a search for “analytics.” If you see an opening and closing tag on each page, this probably isn’t the cause. But if you see multiple sets of Analytics tags, you need to investigate further.
Reason #3: AdSense Can’t Fill All Requests
It’s possible (though unlikely) that you’ve set everything up properly and AdSense is unable to give you the ad units you’re asking for. This would result in a blank space appearing where ads should be, meaning that you’d probably notice as you browse your own site.
How to Test: In addition to the “sight test” you conduct by navigating your own site, there is a more technical way to investigate. Within your AdSense account, pull up the ad units report (Performance Reports >> Ad Units), and look at the column labeled “Coverage.” As Google explains:
Coverage = (Ad requests that returned ads / total ad requests) * 100
If this ratio is close to 100% for an ad unit, that means that AdSense is able to place an ad in that position every time a page with that ad unit loads. If, however, the coverage for ad units is less than 100%, it means that for some reason AdSense is unable to supply an ad every time one is demanded. Note that Coverage for Link Units is usually far less than 100% (it’s often less than 5%) since link units require two clicks to earn any revenue (the first click on a term brings up a list of related ads). For Link Units, Coverage indicates the percentage of viewers who were shown the pages of ads.
If your Coverage rate on standard ad units (e.g., 728×90 and 300×250 ad units) is less than 100%, there are a number of reasons why this shortfall may be occurring (some of which were mentioned above). In addition to troubleshooting these common causes, you may want to try out another ad network (or try having a few of them compete with each other and AdSense) to generate a higher coverage rate.
Reason #4: Pages Without Ads
This explanation sounds incredibly obvious, but it’s often overlooked when troubleshooting. Many sites have certain pages that intentionally don’t include ads, but may include Analytics code (and therefore show as pageviews there). For example, many sites remove ads completely from any pages where visitors can sign up for some sort of subscription, in order to remove distractions that might prevent them from completing the process. But you’d obviously want to include Analytics tags on such a page in order to measure abandonment rate and total conversions.
How to Test: Look at some of your most popular pages as shown in Analytics (Content >> Site Content >> All Pages) and see if any of the pages that account for a meaningful portion of traffic fall into this category and could explain part of the discrepancy (if it does, don’t be too hard on yourself for panicking).
Reason #5: Ad Blocking / Security Software
For various reasons, it’s unlikely that your AdSense impressions will ever reach 100% of what Analytics is showing. That’s because some visitors to your site likely utilize ad blocking software or security programs that prevent Google ads from being shown.
How to Test: If your Analytics and AdSense numbers are within a couple percentage points of one another, this is the likely explanation.
Reason #6: None of the Above
What? A sixth reason? Yeah, I know: I promised only five. But, if none of the explanations above solves your problem, chime in on the related thread on the MonetizePros forum; a member of our staff or the MonetizePros community will likely be able to troubleshoot a bit more based on the specific details you provide. And we just may come up with a solution for you!