Facebook Analytics vs. Google Analytics – Which is Better?

Facebook Analytics has been introduced to give new insights on the data that is collected via the Facebook Pixel.

Is it better than Google Analytics? What are the differences or similarities between the tools? Let’s find out….

Links mentioned in the video:
Facebook Analytics: https://analytics.facebook.com
Google Analytics: https://analytics.google.com

In this video we’re gonna find out what is better Google Analytics or Facebook Analytics. All and more coming up.

Hey there welcome back to another video of measureschool.com teaching you the data driven way of digital marketing. My name is Julian and today we want to take a look at the differences between Google Analytics and Facebook Analytics.

Now this has been a really interesting question. I’ve seen this picture on Facebook, where somebody typed in Google Analytics and we see that Facebook Analytics actually puts AdWords advertising on top of the search results here. How funny is that? And they say here it says here, measure people, not cookies, Facebook Analytics, facebook.com. So, today I wanted to take the opportunity to actually look at Facebook Analytics and Google Analytics and maybe the potential on how it changes the game in terms of what analytics tools you would be using in future on your website and your app. So, lets do a little comparison of Facebook Analytics against Google Analytics.

A Little History Lesson of Online Analytics Tools

So first up let’s talk about the history of the tools. Now Facebook Analytics is pretty new. It just came out in 2017, broadly to the public and is now available to all the advertiser of Facebook Analytics. Now this is a pretty much new tool to us and the data basis is revolutionary and different to Google Analytics. Now let’s consider the history of Google Analytics, a much older tool here. And that also plays into maybe some of the disadvantages here but also the advantages, because Google Analytics actually was different company before it was bought by Google. It was a company called Urchin. And in 2005, Google saw the potential of all these analytics tool out there and bought this tool for their own advertisers that were doing AdWords at the time.

The rationale behind it was really that AdWords advertisers couldn’t measure the complete customer journey. They were only able to see how much they spent on an advertising that had made them money. But maybe not what was actually happening on the website itself. So, they thought about a solution on how they could help advertisers out to spend more money on AdWords. And that’s when they came up with the idea to buy a tool like Urchin and integrate it into Google Analytics or the suite of Google Analytics. So advertisers could actually make more money with AdWords. And they made it all free, I mean, the software, Urchin itself cost at some point 20,000 dollars per month.

Now Google Analytics premium actually cost that same amount now, but you can see that the power, the raw power of Google Analytics at that point was pretty substantial and they brought out this tool for free. So, you would be able to use it on your website. And it grew really fast because for that money, free you couldn’t get a solution out there. So a lot of website owners actually put this on their website and started tracking.

Nowadays, Google Analytics is the defacto standard when it comes to web tracking because we can, first of all look at our data and compare it to other sites, so how many page use has it, how many users do you have per month, for example. But that actually comes with a clear model that Google Analytics gave us. So this model actually evolved from website tracking and it 2005 websites looked a lot different than what the web looks like today. So you would have a model that actually is centered around paid use, centered around cookies, that’s what they say in the ad and not around maybe users which Facebook is really good at.So, just remember that Google Analytics is a much older tool. Facebook is much newer. So the technology is evolved different and they come from different times of the internet history so to say. So we need to take that into account when we look at these two different tools.

GA vs FB Analytics Tracking Mechanics

Now that leads us to the next part here, which are the two tracking mechanisms. Now I already mentioned that Google Analytics is heavily relying on cookies. What does that mean? That’s the mechanism Google Analytics is built upon. So, the sessions, the page use and the users are all calculated through this cookie mechanism that is actually placed on the browser of the users to re-identify the user.

Now you already can think of many different instances where this falls apart. If you, for example, come back through mobile device, you would have a different browser, a different cookie stored on your computer and you would be essentially a different user that is actually identified by Google Analytics.

Now Facebook Analytics is completely different from that, because Facebook actually knows exactly which user has been identified on there platform. So, if I click on and advertising on Facebook, it actually knows which user goes to the website. And if I click on the advertising again on my mobile device again Facebook knows exactly who I am. So, the paradigm shifts here from cookies to actually users because Facebook actually exactly knows who I am and then can track throughout my user session.

So that gives them a bit more better data. So if you look into the audio demographics for example, in Facebook Analytics, you can see that there is much more data there that is interesting for us because we know that they are real user profiles that Facebook Analytics actually has in their database that they can provide us now as an advertiser or as an analytics user.

Which Tool is More Widely Used?

Now let’s talk about the popularity or the reach of the tools that the tools have. I think that Google Analytics is still the most widely used web tracking tool out there. There are a few competitors. I think of Yandex Metrica, which has also a very robust system behind it and give you all the data that you need. But people are just very locked-in to Google Analytics because they don’t want to change their tracking system.

Maybe they don’t want to re-tag their website and it has been running for years. You know that Google Analytics is not retroactive, so you can’t be pulling in historical data into the tool. So they just keep it running, most of the website owners keep it running because they have a history of data. And if they would turn that off all that data would not exist anymore. So there’s a strong lock-in effect in terms of using Google Analytics.

Now Facebook Analytics actually has another tool that we install. Pretty much everybody, as Facebook Ads got more and more popular, you install the Facebook pixel on your website and the Facebook pixel actually provided ours with conversion tracking data. Now it’s more retargeting data and suddenly we have this whole database of Facebook Analytics available to us. So the popularity will grow as Facebook Ads grows to be the defacto one of the websites that you can buy advertising on. And Google has that obviously as well, but Facebook Analytics becomes more popular because you just have it installed already.

That said, will you change over your defacto analytics tool from Google Analytics to Facebook Analytics? That’s the question. I haven’t yet seen people discuss their Facebook Analytics metrics, rather their Google Analytics metrics. So if you see somebody who is selling a website, you might as well look into their Google Analytics rather than their Facebook Analytics. It is interesting to see whether this will change over time. But for now, Google Analytics remains the dominant tool in the analytics market when it comes to website tracking.

Functionality and Versatily of Both Tools

Now let’s talk a little bit about functionality and versatility of the tools. Obviously, Google Analytics is a tool that has been developed over the years and has a lot of functionality that Facebook Analytics just doesn’t have. So if you think about the base checking, yes, you can see page use, which Facebook Analytics and Google Analytics. You can see sessions and so on. But Google Analytics has a much broader spectrum of customizations that you can make through to it.

When I think about enhanced e-commerce checking, custom dimensions, user ID tracking, calculated metrics, custom metrics and so on, that’s all a very customized version of Google Analytics. And you can customize Google Analytics to the business model here. With Facebook Analytics it gives you the basics, but it doesn’t let you expand a lot of that. Now, Facebook Analytics has opened up their Facebook pixel and it has opened up over the years so you can send custom data in. But in Facebook Analytics it’s really hard to still see that data, to pull it out of the interface and actually make sense of that data. They are now doing auto tracking, so they are picking up all that meta information that you might have on the page. But they’re not really exposing that in the interface per se and giving you smart insights on that. So it’s still in the basic raw form of tracking data.

I think that there will be more features introduced and maybe these features will be different from what we see in Google Analytics. But for now, Google Analytics has still many more customization features then Facebook Analytics.

Which Analytic Tools is Better – My Thoughts

So in the end, what is my conclusion? What tool is actually better? If I look at Facebook Analytics, I think that it’s really interesting that the shift really happens in the underlying tracking mechanism on how Facebook Analytics is able to track people and maybe give us more insights in terms of maybe attribution, but also demographic data and then lifetime of the user, going through the system and maybe looking at different websites. They play to their advantage a little bit of that already in there demographics data or in their funnel analysis. But it’s not too apparent yet why Facebook Analytics is the next analytics tool that we should be using.

We see over the next coming months, over the next years how Facebook Analytics evolves and maybe it will become the defacto tool because it just has a better tracking basis of what we can do with our analytics data. But as you know, Google Analytics is much more than just a tool. We have so much more data available outside of Google Analytics and they are connecting so much more to it. So we have Google Tag Manager, we have Data Studio, we have Google Optimize so all these different tools really feed into the whole ecosystem that Google has built with their analytics suite. And maybe that will keep us locked-in to the analytics suite.

For now, I don’t see why you shouldn’t be using two tools at the same time. It just gives you a different tracking and different database at the end. For most of my data, I actually still use Google Analytics to do quick analysis. I just know the interface better, but also I trust the data more because I know how it actually pulls in. And Facebook Analytics, it’s still a black hole. Their documentation is not yet there where you really know how to manipulate any kind of customization that you can do in the tool. And maybe they will never reveal this because right now Facebook Analytics is a tool that you add on to you advertising to get more insights from it. It’s not really something that you would use as a stand alone tool to analyze your website. But as I said, maybe I’m a very particular case.

And I’d love to hear from you if you are using Facebook Analytics over Google Analytics then please let me know in the comments below. I’d be really interesting to hear if you’re using Facebook or Google Analytics as your main tool. And if you like this video then please, give us a thumbs up and also subscribe to our channel right over there because we will bring you new videos just like this one, every week. Now my name is Julian, till next time


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Premkumar Arumugam
Premkumar Arumugam
2 years ago

Hi. What happens if the user use the FB app and did not sign FB in any of the mobile browser. How does the FB pixel fires when the user use mobile browser (without FB signed) visits a particular site with FB pixel installed?

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