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[edited by: WebGuy84 at 8:09 am (utc) on Jan. 5, 2007]
Does anyone in this forum that tracks data independently have input into the accuracy of the convesrion reporting from Google Adwords, YSM and MSN?
It is not exactly an easy question to answer.
They all work basically the same way. Tag a user as they come from an engine and see if that same person makes a conversion later. So in theory they can all be 100 percent accurate.
Differences in tracking happen because of variables used to determine when a conversion takes place. An easy variable to explain is time. One tracking script may consider a conversion to happen within 14 days of the initial click and another may go 30 days and another may go 365 days on so on. So the script that only tracks 14 days would not see a conversion on the 15th day after the click that a script that tracks for 30 or higher would. So the question then becomes which tracking script is right in the website owners mind based on all the variables that can change the reported data.
There are many other factors that may skew the numbers so while theory says they can ALL be accurate the reality is that NONE of them will be truly accurate.
What I am really trying to ascertain is if anyone in this forum has encountered a problem with Google, YSM or MSN in reporting a significantly different number of conversions than those which are reported by independent tracking methods. In other words, I would like to hear opinions from others as to whether they believe that conversions are being inaccurately overstated or understated by Google, YSM or MSN when compared to conversions that are reported by other tracking methods.
I would also appreciate opinions as to which of the above mentioned companies has the biggest issues in overstating or understating conversion data when compared to an independent benchmarking system.
I would like to believe that conversions as reported by these reputable companies are accurate. Yet, it is obvious that these companies have a vested interest in conversions being as high as possible. I worry that this may affect the means of their reporting. I am currently not tracking these conversions with independent software and I am wondering if it is something that I should be doing.
Thank you to anyone in advance that can provide some opinions on this matter.
[edited by: UnitedRigo at 9:29 pm (utc) on Jan. 14, 2007]
The only other point that I'd add is - accuracy depends on how you choose to credit conversions across various sources of traffic.
If a user clicks on multiple ads from multiple sites before making a purchase, who gets credit? Unless you're using one tracking system across all your online channels to manage this overlap, results may not mesh with how you're choosing to credit conversions - even though the tracking may very well be 100% accurate.
Yahoo is worse and quite frequently reports wrong data. There'll be an odd wrong day every two weeks or so, some days it goes crazy and shows A LOT more conversions than I have really had. For me personally its around 75% accurate.