Forgive me if this isn't the right place for this question; new here and new to web analytics in general.

I'm trying to use Google Analytics to get some insight on what's working and what's not in our company's digital marketing strategy. We have a Kickstarter. We're running Google Analytics on this Kickstarter. We're attaching UTM parameters to the URL, then feeding that to Bitly for shortened links to post in various channels, from ads to news outlets to social media.

Problem is, the traffic data we're getting on the Bitly links is vastly different from the traffic data we're getting in Google Analytics.

Bitly reports 50+ clicks on one Twitter advertisement. Analytics reads 4 unique visits where utm-source=twitter. So what's the deal here? (This is the unfiltered view on this property, btw.)

Bitly Analytics on UVe Kickstarter Google Analytics on UVe Kickstarter

Any insight would be deeply appreciated.

  • Perhaps this article may provide some insight megalytic.com/blog/dangers-of-shortened-urls-for-analytics – nyuen Jul 23 '15 at 14:06
  • @nyuen Whilst there are striking similarities between that article's report and the data in the question and there may well be something in it, some of the claims in that article don't seem to make a whole lot of sense IMO. "redirecting the URL from the bit.ly link to the yoursite.com link, the source gets lost and is seen simply as a direct visit" - this is false. bit.ly issues a standard 301 redirect so it is up to the browser to resend the referer and make the request, not bit.ly. In fact, the target of the link (ie. GA) should not even be able to detect that bit.ly was used. – MrWhite Jul 23 '15 at 16:34
  • It's possible that Twitter itself is interfering with the link, but then bit.ly wouldn't register a click. But, are we looking at the same metric... "clicks on a bitlink" (which probably does not differentiate bots and multiple clicks) vs Sessions in GA? For reference: Is traffic coming from URL shorteners treated as direct? – MrWhite Jul 23 '15 at 16:38
  • @nyuen, Thanks for the article. Unfortunately, the solution in that article is to do UTM tagging before shortening your links, which I already did, and is the principal source of my confusion. re: w3d's point, bots and different methods of counting clicks vs. pageviews seems to be the main source of the discrepancy here, but... 4 on GA and 56 on bit.ly is the largest discrepancy (proportionally) I've seen in all my googling. – Ryan Lue Aug 10 '15 at 9:39

The problem has to do with bot/spider traffic. Bot’s click on all links posted to social platforms and Bitly is reporting on this as if it is normal traffic. If you use a platform like ClickMeter.com or Rebrandly.com, you will be able to see the properly sorted amount of traffic and won’t be distracted by bot traffic:

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Bot’s make up quite a lot of your traffic and check every single post on social media to catalog your data.

But also note that there will always be a discrepency between GA data and click data because people leave before the page loads fully, and other random reasons that might lead to a GA javascript pixel not firing.

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