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The Challenges of Implementing Advertising Tracking: Why It's So Hard to Get Right

For today's digital marketers & business owners, implementing comprehensive tracking across advertising channels is essential for optimizing campaigns and demonstrating ROI. However, executing robust tracking is often rife with challenges. In this post, we'll explore some of the key reasons advertising tracking can be so difficult to set up effectively.

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Data Silos Between Platforms

A core issue with tracking is that data lives in separate silos across different advertising platforms like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, affiliate networks, etc. Each platform and channel has its own tracking pixels, metrics, and attribution models. Combining and making sense of cross-channel data for attribution is complex without a unified tracking solution.

Lack of Universal ID for Users

There is no universal ID that persists across all platforms to enable marketers to track unique users seamlessly as they interact with campaigns across channels. Platforms like Google and Facebook maintain their own closed user ID systems. This makes stitching together the user journey to properly attribute conversions extremely difficult.

Measurement Methodology Differences

Attribution and measurement approaches differ widely between channels. Last-click attribution is common for search ads, while social platforms use algorithmic modeling for attribution. Affiliate channels may use first-click or hybrid approaches. Interpreting campaign performance metrics becomes an apples-to-oranges exercise.

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Inconsistent Tagging and Tracking Pixel Implementation

Getting tracking pixels implemented consistently across all platforms and pages is essential, yet challenging. Ensuring the right tags fire at the right time on websites and landing pages requires technical expertise and quality assurance testing. Errors in tagging can undermine data.

Lack of Goal Setting and KPI Alignment

Marketers often fail to clearly define goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) upfront. Without strategic goal-setting, tracking lacks purpose and context. What gets measured needs to tie directly to campaign objectives and business impact.


In summary, fragmented data, inconsistent methodology, technical complexity, and misaligned KPIs are all key challenges that make implementing truly effective advertising tracking elusive. But with the right tracking partner, robust data pipelines, goal-setting, and cross-channel analytics, marketers can overcome these hurdles.

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McFarland Marketing's owner, Logan McFarland's biggest hurdles when running advertisements for clients was setting up conversion tracking. This was compounded with the fact that Google, Apple, Shopify & specifically Google Analytics 4 changed how tracking in 2023. Logan was forced to find a solution and now is able to track all ads across all platforms with advanced conversion tracking setup.

If you're having trouble tracking which ads are successful and which ones aren't, click here to schedule a free call with our team to see if we can help.

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