Facebook Analytics vs. Google Analytics – Which is Better?

Analytics are at the heart of every good digital marketing campaign — but between Facebook Analytics and Google Analytics, which tool will give you the best foundation?

This guide provides a comparative study of both Facebook Analytics and Google Analytics, including their similarities, differences, and potential to change the future of your website. 

An overview of what we’ll cover: 

So let’s dive in! 

A Brief History of Online Analytics Tools

Relatively speaking, Facebook Analytics is new to the game — Facebook (now Meta) launched it in 2017. For this reason, the basis of the data on Facebook Analytics is very different from Google Analytics.

In 2005, Google realized the power of analytics tools for websites. They bought what is now Google Analytics from a company called Urchin.

The idea was to support Google’s users in AdWords, where advertisers lacked a system to track the complete customer journey.  AdWords was able to track the money spent on advertising, but there weren’t any means to know what was happening on the website platform. Google Analytics was the solution to this problem.

It is interesting to note that Google Analytics has been very valuable since the time it was launched, but Google decided to keep it free for all users.

It was difficult to get such an optimized solution for the websites completely free of cost. Hence, the tool became incredibly popular in a very short time. 

As a result, Google Analytics is a standard tool for website tracking today. This is because we can not only track our data and compare it with other websites, but we can also track the audience’s movements. 

Overall, technology has evolved differently for both tools as Google Analytics has a lot of history as compared to Facebook Analytics. This has had major impacts on the tracking mechanisms and systems employed by each analytics platform.

Tracking Mechanisms of Google Analytics vs. Facebook Analytics

Google Analytics uses cookies to identify sessions and pages that a user sees. (More on Google Analytics cookies here.

Because cookies live on your browser, Google Analytics will track your website sessions each time you open a page from the same device. 

However, once it installs cookies on browsers, Google Analytics can’t differentiate between the two sessions

On the other hand, Facebook Analytics has a completely different tracking mechanism. Rather than use cookies, Facebook Analytics identifies unique users on their own platform and tracks their movements

For example, if you open an ad from Facebook on your laptop, it will identify you based on your Facebook profile and track your movement. If you open the same ad from your phone or any other device, it still knows the user is you. Because of this, Facebook Analytics attributes both sessions to the same user. 

The paradigm shifts from cookies to actual users when we compare Google Analytics to Facebook Analytics. 

Hence, when you check the data available from Facebook Analytics, you’ll notice that the data is much more optimized for tracking audiences

Data graphic view of Facebook Analytics account for tracking audience movement

This database is essential for advertising purposes for any analytics user. 

Functionality and Versatility of Both Tools

Since Google Analytics has a longer development history, it has a greater variety of functions relative to Facebook Analytics. 

You can find basic functionalities like page use and base checking in any analytics tools, including Facebook Analytics as well as Google Analytics. 

However, Google Analytics has a much broader spectrum of customizations like Enhanced eCommerce, custom dimensions, user ID tracking, calculated metrics, and custom metrics. 

Accessing the interface of Facebook Analytics with a broader page view

Not to be left behind, Facebook Analytics also added new customizations. (These use the Facebook Pixel to optimize data.) However, it’s still difficult to track the data, extract it out of the interface, and analyze it. 

Recently, Facebook Analytics launched auto-tracking that picks up metadata from web pages. But these aren’t currently able to give analysis for the raw data. 

It’s safe to assume that more similar features will be introduced in the near future that will be distinct from those in Google Analytics. But for now, Google Analytics still has comparatively more customization features than Facebook Analytics. 

Google Analytics is a more widely used tool compared to Facebook Analytics. 

There are a few competitors for Google Analytics. For example, Yandex Metrica has a very robust system for data collection and representation. 

However, Google Analytics has been the industry standard for a long time. It’s a lot of work for older websites to re-tag their websites with new tools, so whatever tool becomes widely adopted first tends to remain popular.

Additionally, since websites have used Google Analytics for a long time, a lot of their audience data is stored in existing accounts. Changing the tools would result in a loss of archived data, which makes it harder to compare year-to-year trends. 

Customizing and analyzing data on the Google Analytics account by tracking cookies

That said, Facebook Analytics has its own following and is still pretty widely used. 

Almost all websites use Facebook Ads for marketing purposes. Hence, the popularity of Facebook Analytics has increased with the popularity of Facebook Ads — even among websites that also use Google Analytics.

This is mainly because Facebook Analytics also provides us with an integrated approach for conversion tracking data by the means of Facebook Pixel. 

Facebook Ads also provides a vast database of Analytics that helps us optimize this data, plus all the bells and whistles for retargeting. 

Which Tracking Tool Is Better: Google Analytics or Facebook Analytics?

Not to draw too sharp of a line, but… Google Analytics is simply a better tool for web tracking compared to Facebook Analytics, for a number of reasons. 

Facebook Analytics seems to offer a lot at first. For example, its integrated system of tracking mechanisms follows individual users more accurately. This gets you better attribution, demographic data, and audience tracking up to the lifetime of a website. 

However, it’s unlikely that Facebook Analytics has the power to become as ubiquitous as Google Analytics. Facebook Analytics just doesn’t have the optimized interface for manipulating customized data, which is essential for online businesses.

Facebook Analytics is currently just a tool to track audience movements around our ads. It can’t be used as a stand-alone tool on any website for complete user tracking. 

Google Analytics, on the other hand, is much more than just a tool. It has a better interface to customize and manipulate data, and it connects us to a lot of other useful platforms. 

For example, Google Analytics is designed to work with Google’s other tools, like Google Tag Manager, Google Ads, and Google Optimize. It also has an incredibly robust system of integrations with third-party tools, like OptinMonster, MailChimp, and more.

All these tools together make an ecosystem that maximizes tracking efficacy of our website audience. It can be a lot to keep track of, but Google Analytics provides the foundation for a truly robust tracking system.

However, there is no reason why we shouldn’t use both tools together. Each tool has its own advantages, and we can use them together for even better results!

Summary

So that’s all you need to know about analytics tools like Facebook Analytics and Google Analytics. 

Facebook Analytics gives us more accurate data by tracking users instead of cookies, but Google Analytics is more customizable and user friendly — plus, it includes a lot of other bonus features and integrations that make it a more robust, universal tool.

Additionally, as an add-on to Google Analytics tracking, you can also use Google Tag Manager to enhance the website tracking

Were you able to understand the differences and similarities between Facebook Analytics and Google Analytics? Which tool would you prefer for tracking? Let us know in the comments below! 

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Premkumar Arumugam
Premkumar Arumugam
3 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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