Why is there a difference between Outbrain reporting and Google Analytics?

Discrepancies between Outbrain click reporting and Google Analytics reports are normal (and expected) because of differences in reporting methodologies. Regardless of these anticipated discrepancies, Outbrain and Google Analytics reports should follow similar data trends.

Common Reasons for Discrepancies

Google Analytics Sessions vs. Outbrain Clicks

There is a distinction between Clicks recorded by Outbrain and Visits/Sessions recorded by Google Analytics. Outbrain records a Click anytime a user clicks a content recommendation on a publisher site, while Google Analytics records a single Session/Visit for all user interactions within a given time frame (which expires after 30 minutes of inactivity).

For example, if a user reaches the marketer’s site through Outbrain twice within that time frame, they will only be recorded as one Session/Visit within Google Analytics.

Partial Page Loads

If a user navigates away from the site before the page is fully loaded and the Google Analytics tracking code executes, a click will still be counted towards your Outbrain traffic.

Session Timeouts

Google Analytics’s sessions are timed out after 30 minutes of inactivity. If a user leaves a site and then comes back after 30 minutes, it will be counted as two sessions.

Bookmarked Pages

Users may click on an ad, bookmark your site, and come back later during a different session. In Google Analytics, this would be counted as 2 separate sessions while Outbrain will only count this as one click.

User Browser Preferences

Visitors may have set their browser privacy preferences to disable cookies, images, or JavaScript making them un-trackable by Google Analytics. The same goes for users that have installed Google’s own opt-out add-on or any kind of AdBlocker.

Time Zone Differences

Outbrain reporting is currently still based on US Eastern Time (UTC -5 hours) for all global markets. If Google Analytics is using a different time zone, the daily reporting might have some differences.

Change in HTTP Certificate

Outbrain uses referrer URLs to track clicks and conversions on the platform. As URLs can change depending on the security of the site, clicks may not be recorded the same. For example, when someone clicks on an ad within our network the click cannot be recorded if the user left the HTTPS environment and entered an HTTP environment.

Our campaigns that have no UTM parameters will show up in your Google Analytics dashboard as paid.outbrain. This means some of your campaigns are not populating the UTM parameters and can be one of the reasons you don’t see data for these specific campaigns.

Tips for Reducing Data Gaps (When Possible)

Ensure the Google Analytics code is implemented across your whole site and at the top of each page

Add the Google Analytics code to the header of each page, including home pages, section fronts, and mobile pages. Implementing the code too far down on your web page will result in missed clicks if the page isn’t fully loaded.

Click here to ensure that the code is implemented properly on your site.

Keep your Google Analytics code up-to-date.

Check the latest GA script code from Google is in use, as shown here. Make sure you add the UA and Domain attribute as described on that page.

Optimize for mobile.

Keep loading times in mind. If it takes a mobile ad to load more than 4 seconds, expect over a 25% dropoff from click to pageview. Here are some tips to keep in mind to optimize your mobile UX.

Analyze your web page speed & performance.

Delays in page load time can lead to gaps in Outbrain clicks vs. Google Analytics sessions. Google’s PageSpeed Insights provides suggestions for optimizations on this front.

Implement UTM tags on the campaign level.

When implementing UTM tags in your Outbrain campaign, add them on the campaign level, rather than the URL. Dynamic parameters are not supported by the URL level.


For any questions regarding your campaign data in Google Analytics, feel free to reach out to our DIY Customer Success team for further assistance.

Outbrain is only able to investigate discrepancies between our platform and Outbrain compatible click trackers and at this time, only Google Analytics is considered an Outbrain compatible click tracker.

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