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Problem:

  • We're seeing a lot of traffic from (direct) / (none) in GA whenever a Facebook Ads campaign is launched — it's always the top source/medium pair.

  • In second place, there's some fb / Facebook_Mobile_Feed etc. showing up, so it's definitely registering. The direct drops a lot as soon as campaigns are paused.

We've tried: fixing GTM/pixel bugs, checking the URLs for redirects, or if something weird is going on our WordPress-SPA subdomain combo etc.

Could the following UTM template that's been set up in Facebook be affecting this?

?utm_source={{site_source_name}}&utm_medium={{placement}}&utm_campaign={{campaign.id}}&utm_content={{ad.id}}

I typically set the utm_source as facebook, and medium as cpc, but that shouldn't cause a data discrepancy like this, no?

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  • Is each Facebook ad getting a UTM'd URL?
    – I Capulet
    Sep 16 '20 at 13:38
  • @ICapulet, yeah
    – Baumr
    Sep 16 '20 at 17:38
  • Can you supply an example of a landing page from a given ad?
    – I Capulet
    Sep 16 '20 at 22:42
  • 1
    I don't think it's the tracking parameters because you mentioned that some conversions are being picked up, and others not. I think there's something wrong with your GTM/pixel or the SPA itself. Have a developer look into it and use server-side conversion tracking.
    – DHB
    Sep 22 '20 at 13:10
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+50

To answer your question: no, looks like that's not the cause.

It wouldn't be the tracking parameters because you mentioned that some conversions are being picked up, and others not. If it was the parameters, it'd be absolute: either always worked, or always broke.

I think there's something wrong with your GTM/pixel or the SPA itself. I recommend that you have a developer look into it, and use Facebook's server-side conversion tracking.

https://developers.facebook.com/docs/marketing-api/conversions-api/

1
  • Thanks, we'll look into the pros and cons of that. Using the Facebook Pixel now.
    – Baumr
    Sep 22 '20 at 14:39
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I suspect it is because the URLs you are using in your ads are formatted like company.org/(country-code) instead of company.org/(country-code)/. Looks like any of the typical URLs without the '/' redirect to the trailing slash versions. Sometimes the UTM parameters fail to persist through the redirect chain and also Google Analytics sometimes mistakes redirects as direct traffic. Change the URLs in your ads to their /(country-code)/ versions and you should be set!

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  • Thanks for your answer. Not sure what you mean. The ads are currently pointing to /en/ already
    – Baumr
    Sep 20 '20 at 1:26
  • Sorry, was doing too many things at once. By using '/en' instead of '/en/' with that trailing slash the redirect occurs.
    – I Capulet
    Sep 20 '20 at 1:47
  • Wait, are you using example.org/en or example.org/en/ in the ads? The response had only '/en' and - this is what tripped me up - I found the org's Facebook page which uses links with neither '/en/' nor '/en'. Perhaps there is something going on with your entire redirect rule set.
    – I Capulet
    Sep 20 '20 at 2:04
  • Thanks, those have been changed now. The thing is, I think this lack of trailing slash is a recent thing. I'm evry sure I checked this in May (when the issue was first observed) and the URLs were exact match... so I'm doubtful it's going to fix it (and is just some recent mess up from a developer)
    – Baumr
    Sep 21 '20 at 9:48
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    Well, I was pointing out the March one because that's the earliest one I could find, I dunno why it isn't listing May ones... I found this reference on holini.com/m-lm-l-facebook-com-referrals: "Facebook solved this problem by routing the click through the link shim page that is a non-HTTPS page. Users will stay on the temporary link shim page a few milliseconds before being redirected to the desired web page. This is why you see an anonymous Facebook referrer rather than a referrer from an unknown source (direct / none) in Google Analytics."
    – I Capulet
    Sep 22 '20 at 23:25

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