Understanding Cost and Conversion Discrepancies

It is entirely expected that you will occasionally see a difference between the cost reported in the publisher’s interface and cost reported in Marin. These discrepancies can be up to 1% and occur for a number of reasons, some of which we will outline below.

You may also encounter conversion discrepancies whereby the total number of conversions differs in Marin than in the publisher interface. If you are not on publisher tracking (i.e. you are using Marin Tracker instead), this discrepancy is expected since different tracking solutions will have different tracking methods. The discrepancy can be quite minor when comparing a single keyword/ad on a single date (i.e. a difference of 0-2 conversions), which can appear larger when selecting a greater date range and/or viewing an entire group/campaign/account that contains multiple keywords/ads. Again, we will outline some possible causes below.

If you happen to see a discrepancy (cost or conversion), please attempt to narrow this down to 1) a single example keyword/ad on 2) a single example date that is having this issue. This investigation can often lead to the explanation of the discrepancy you are seeing.

Why Cost Discrepancies Occur 

If you notice small cost discrepancies in Marin, they can usually be explained in one of the following ways:

  1. Publisher adjustments
    Publishers often adjust cost metrics several days later to account for bots, click fraud, or other false data. Our system pulls three days of cost data each night, which captures the majority of these cost adjustments – but not all. To re-pull cost data prior to the past three days, please file a Customer Support ticket. In some cases, publishers remove all the impressions and clicks for a certain keyword or ad for a date in the past (i.e. after reporting some impressions). In these cases, this keyword or creative will not appear in the cost report that the publisher sends us since there is no data to report. As a result, we do not change the data for this keyword or creative. This problem often manifests itself in single impressions that appears in Marin only and not in the publisher. 
    Note: In cases where the adjustment involves removing all metrics for a given keyword, downloading a cost report will not fix the issue, since publishers skip rows with no metrics in the cost report.
  2. Deleted objects
    We do not download cost data for deleted ads or keywords, which could account for differing cost figures.
  3. Creative edits
    If you edit an ad, it is essentially recognized as a new ad with a new publisher ID. Therefore, cost data may sync down as partial data for that day or publisher cost adjustments may not be captured for those deleted ads.
  4. Keywords with clicks but no impressions from the publisher
    Our cost report download logic does not allow downloading clicks without impressions into Marin, however, the publishers sometimes send this type of data. For Google specifically, the report that we are building our cost reporting based on skips rows with no impressions and that prevents us from being able to report on these clicks as well.
  5. Differences in currency settings
    If impression and click data between the publisher and Marin match and cost is the only metric that is showing a discrepancy, this may be due to different currency settings. Please check to make sure that the publisher currency settings match Marin's currency settings.
    • To see Marin currency settings, go to the Settings section, select Clients, double-click the account you are in, then scroll to the Geographic section and the currency field. If the publisher currency settings do not match Marin's currency settings, this explains why the cost metrics are not the same.
  6. Object types not supported by Marin
    If Marin does not yet support a publisher object type (i.e. perhaps it is a new publisher object type), this will either 1) not sync down to Marin or 2) will sync to Marin but no data can be pulled in from the publisher. If this object does not sync down to Marin, the data will not sync down either. Examples of objects not yet supported in Marin:
    1. Third Party ad types (Google). Marin does not yet support Third Party Ad types within Display Network Only campaigns. Although these ads will not pull in (therefore data is not pulled in at the creative level), the data will still get pulled in at the higher group/campaigns/account-level.
    2. Shared Ads (Google). Because of this, publisher data will not match at any level (Keyword, Creative, Group, Campaign, or Account) when Shared Ads exist. To identify if an ad is a Shared Ad, there will be a percentage listed below the display URL in the Ad column in Google Ads.
    3. Mobile Placement Ads - AdMob (Google). These relate to Google campaigns targeting on Mobile Apps only (AdMob). 
    4. Content remarketing with parental targeting campaigns (Google). Marin does not yet support content remarketing campaigns on Google that have keywords.
    5. Content remarketing with search companion campaigns (Google). Marin does not yet support content remarketing campaigns on Google that have placements.

Why Conversion Discrepancies Occur 

Small discrepancies in the total number of conversions may occur occasionally. Here are some possible reasons for this:

  1. Different cookie windows
    The cookie windows may differ between the locations, meaning that a conversion counted in Marin may not be counted in the publisher.
  2. Tracking pixel implementation issues
    If the tracking pixel has not been correctly set up on your website, you may see conversion discrepancies.
  3. Marin always uses Last Click attribution
    Some other tracking technologies may use a different type of attribution, which could account for a discrepancy.
  4. Latent conversions
    If you are using publisher tracking as a revenue source for Marin, you might see discrepancies between the publisher and Marin. The reason for this may be that there are latent conversions recorded on the publisher's end (where the conversion happened more than 3 days after the corresponding click). By default, Marin will only pull in the last 3 days of data from the publisher every night, and will thus not download these latent conversions. In order to correct the conversion numbers in Marin, please raise a ticket to our Customer Support team so they can download data from the publisher prior to the last 3 days. Our Customer Support team can also investigate means of downloading more than three days of publisher data every night.

Additional Information 

  •  If you require assistance investigating data discrepancies, please raise a Customer Support ticket.
  • It is also worth noting that Marin will only show data up until yesterday, whereas the publisher interface will have data from today. For this reason, you may sometimes think discrepancies are present when in fact they are not.
  • If you'd like to compare the discrepancy between Marin and some analytics tools (such as Google Analytics), make sure you are comparing conversions from the same source. This is because Google Analytics also tracks conversions from direct or referral traffic, but the conversion data showing in Marin is mainly for paid campaigns.
  • If cost or conversion data is missing from the History grid, please check if there is data in the other grids such as Publishers or Campaigns.

    If data is present there, this signifies that the data has arrived in our system but is still loading into the History grid (which loads last). If data is not present there, please reach out to your Marin account representative.

Written by Marketing @ Marin Software

Last published at: December 8th, 2023