Table of contents
- Why Should You Track Facebook Ads in GA4?
- Challenges of Manual Data Export from Facebook Ads
- Benefits of Importing Facebook Ads Data to Google Analytics 4
- Different Methods to Upload Facebook Ads Costs to Google Analytics 4
- Preparing Facebook Ads Google Analytics 4 tracking
- How to Track Facebook Ads in Google Analytics 4
- 4 steps to Import Facebook ads Data to GA4 with OWOX BI
- Advantages of Using OWOX BI Pipeline for Importing Facebook Ad Data
Unified ROAS Measurement: How to Import Facebook Ads Data into Google Analytics 4
Ievgen Krasovytskyi, Head of Marketing @ OWOX
The purpose of automatically uploading data is to save the time of marketing or data specialists. For sure, this tutorial will convince you about the advantages of automated importing so you spend time analyzing data, optimizing campaigns and growing the business, rather than doing manual data collection and preparation tasks.
Automated reporting also eliminates errors and mistakes when working with data. We’ll show you how to import cost data from Facebook Ads to Google Analytics 4 with OWOX BI.
Note: This post was originally published in August 2019 and was completely updated in January 2024 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Why Should You Track Facebook Ads in GA4?
While Facebook provides some fundamental insights about your website traffic, it's not as detailed as Google Analytics 4. GA4 provides insights into user interactions on your website and offers a comprehensive view of customer journeys.
Facebook Ad Manager effectively shows the reach and engagement metrics (like views and clicks) of your ads but loses track of users once they leave Facebook, because of pixel-based tracking limitations.
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On the other hand, Google Analytics 4 allows you to collect in-depth information about user behavior, device usage, countries/regions, and much more once a visitor arrives at your website from a Facebook ad.
Additionally, GA4 helps in overcoming some of the tracking limitations due to privacy updates like iOS 14 and 15, ensuring more accurate reporting of user engagements and conversions (compared to Facebook pixel).
So, when we link Facebook Ads to GA 4, it helps you more accurately link the spending with conversions, page views, and sessions, which is crucial for optimizing the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns.
Challenges of Manual Data Export from Facebook Ads
Without automatic data import to GA4 setup, you have to export ads data from Facebook (and other advertising platforms) to spreadsheets and csv files, manually prepare into GA4 structure, and then upload to Google Analytics 4 manually. You’ll need to spend time on this regularly – in fact, you’ll have to spend time every time you need the report.
Also, if you forget to import data or make a mistake, your reports will be based on incomplete data. As a result, you’ll make the wrong marketing decisions about campaign optimization and lose on sales.
As of December 2024, you can’t directly import cost data from Facebook Ads or other non-Google ad services directly into Google Analytics 4.
Google Analytics 4 can only receive data directly from other Google services such as Google Ads, AdSense, Search 360, or the Google Search Console. You can easily import statistics on clicks, impressions, and expenses from these Google services into GA4.
However, if you are running ad campaigns on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Criteo, Bing, or other advertising platforms, you’ll have only 2 choices: you need to import data manually or use a third-party tool like OWOX BI.
The screenshot above shows the Cost Analysis report in Google Analytics 4 (Advertising Snapshot – Performance – All Channels). You can see that there’s no cost data for non-Google services.
But in this next screenshot, you can see the Non-Google Cost Analysis report with complete data on the costs of various advertising campaigns.
With ETL tools for collecting data, transforming and loading it to different data destinations, there’s no need to manually upload data. After reading this article, you will be able to easily set up automatic data transfers with OWOX BI.
Benefits of Importing Facebook Ads Data to Google Analytics 4
Integrating Facebook Ads data into Google Analytics 4 (GA4) provides a holistic view of your marketing efforts, blending social media impact with broader web analytics. This integration offers several benefits:
- Comprehensive Tracking: It enables tracking user journeys from Facebook ads to website interactions, giving a complete picture of the conversion funnel.
- Enhanced Audience Insights: Combining Facebook's demographic data with GA4's user behavior analysis deepens understanding of audience segments.
- Optimized Ad Spending: By correlating Facebook ad performance with website outcomes, you can allocate budgets more effectively.
- Cross-Platform Performance Analysis: It facilitates the comparison of Facebook Ads with other marketing channels, helping to understand their relative effectiveness.
- Customized Reporting: GA4 allows for customized reporting, making it easier to focus on specific metrics relevant to Facebook advertising.
- Improved ROI Measurement: This integration aids in accurate ROI calculations, incorporating data from both platforms for a more precise assessment.
- Data Centralization: Having all marketing data in one place simplifies analysis and decision-making processes.
Importing cost data from Facebook Ads into Google Analytics 4 is crucial for a thorough analysis of your Facebook campaign performance. This process enables a complete understanding of advertising return on investment (ROI), helps identify the most lucrative campaigns and channels, and facilitates the optimization of advertising expenses based on solid data.
Different Methods to Upload Facebook Ads Costs to Google Analytics 4
OK, let’s imagine you already have your Facebook Ads data collected and prepared for GA4 import. What are the ways to get those data loaded into GA4?
There are three basic methods to upload cost data into Google Analytics 4:
- Manual. Use CSV files to upload cost data into GA4.
- Set up a Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) for importing Facebook cost data into GA4.
- Automated Cost Data Import with OWOX BI.
Let's take a look at them in detail:
1. Import Facebook ads cost data to GA4 with CSV
The CSV file method for importing Facebook Ads cost data into Google Analytics 4 is a manual but straightforward process. It starts by manually exporting the cost data from Facebook Ads into a CSV file.
This file must then be formatted to meet GA4's specific requirements, ensuring that crucial metrics like costs, clicks, impressions, and UTMs are correctly aligned with GA4's data format.
This file should contain the following parameters:
- utm_id (campaign ID)
- utm_source (campaign source)
- utm_medium (campaign channel)
- utm_campaign (campaign name)
- date (YYYY-MM-DD)
- clicks (daily value)
- cost (daily value)
- impressions (daily value)
To make it easy for you, you can download a CSV file template from Google Help and fill it with your own data on expenses, clicks, and other metrics from a third-party advertising service.
When entering data in the file, you need to take into account the limitations of cost data importing in GA4:
- You can upload data for a maximum of the last 90 days
- The file should not contain duplicate keys (e.g. two utm_id fields)
- GA4 does not allow keyword data to be uploaded. (If you need a more granular report - check this solution out)
Although this method is relatively simple and provides direct control over the data import process, it requires regular updates to maintain data accuracy and relevance in GA4. The manual nature of this method makes it more suitable for smaller or less frequent campaigns.
2. Import Facebook ads data to GA4 with SFTP Method
The Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) method offers a secure and automated way to transfer load Facebook Ads cost data to Google Analytics 4.
Setting up an SFTP server enables you to import the data that is already prepared to be loaded into GA4.
While the initial setup of this method can be more complex, involving configuring the SFTP server and ensuring secure data transfer, it provides significant advantages in terms of security and automation.
Once set up, it minimizes the need for manual intervention, making it an ideal choice for larger businesses or more frequent ad campaigns that require regular data updates.
But hey, you still need your data from Facebook Ads to be exported somehow on a regular basis, not by downloading the CSV file every day you need the report.
3. Import Facebook ads data to GA4 using Owox Automation
This method is highly efficient, saving time and reducing the risk of manual errors. It's particularly beneficial for businesses looking for a hands-off approach to data integration. The seamless connection between platforms offered by OWOX BI ensures that the data in GA4 is always up-to-date and accurate, making it an excellent choice for organizations with extensive advertising operations seeking efficiency and accuracy.
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Preparing Facebook Ads Google Analytics 4 tracking
Preparing Facebook Ads data for import into GA4 involves a few crucial steps, starting with the setup of UTM parameters in the Facebook Ads Manager.
UTM parameters are essential for Google Analytics 4 (GA4) to accurately merge the costs of Facebook ad campaigns with user behavior from the website (conversions data).
The required UTM parameters include -
- Campaign ID (utm_id)
- Campaign Source (utm_source)
- Campaign Medium (utm_medium)
- Campaign Name (utm_campaign)
A recommended approach is using the GA-4 Compatible UTM Builder for consistent parameter structuring, for example:
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Facebook Ads Manager allows for the use of dynamic variables, enabling automated UTM parameter setup at the ad level.
The format for this could be:
Note: utm_content and utm_term won’t be uploaded to GA4 due to Google restrictions.
This setup ensures that each ad's data is accurately tagged and tracked when imported into GA4.
After configuring UTM parameters, allow a few days for GA4 to collect and process the new data from the users clicking on your Facebook Ads.
Once this data accumulation phase is complete, you can proceed with the next steps in the data import process, ensuring a comprehensive and accurate integration of your Facebook Ads data into GA4 for in-depth analysis and reporting.
How to Track Facebook Ads in Google Analytics 4
This tracking is crucial for a comprehensive analysis of your ad effectiveness, understanding customer journeys, and making data-driven decisions to optimize future advertising efforts.
Let's explore the steps involved in tracking Facebook Ads in GA4:
The Acquisition Overview in Google Analytics 4 is a comprehensive report that encapsulates all traffic data, bifurcated into two main categories: user acquisition and traffic acquisition. Each of these reports is accessible through corresponding links, allowing for detailed analysis.
The User Acquisition Report specifically focuses on users visiting your site for the first time. It generally presents data broken down by channel groups, although there's flexibility to alter settings for a more granular view, such as First user source/medium or First user campaign.
On the other hand, the Traffic Acquisition Report offers insights into factors influencing users, both new and returning, to navigate your website. This report differs from the User Acquisition Report, which concentrates solely on initial website discovery methods.
For a more in-depth analysis of Facebook ad campaigns, the Explorations section in GA4 is invaluable. It allows for the creation of custom reports with a variety of selectable metrics, catering to specific analytical needs. However, without integrating cost data, these reports might lack insights into the actual value and profitability of the ads. This is where the role of cost data importing becomes critical.
By correctly setting up cost data importing, a Non-Google cost report becomes available in the Acquisition section. This report, featuring the imported data, becomes visible almost immediately after successful processing and importation by the system. It facilitates a comparative analysis, enabling you to juxtapose the performance of your Facebook ads against other channels, thus providing a comprehensive view of your advertising strategy's effectiveness.
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4 steps to Import Facebook ads Data to GA4 with OWOX BI
We’ll show you how to quickly set up automatic data transfer to Google Analytics 4 using OWOX BI in 4 steps. After you set up our pipelines, OWOX will regularly upload your collected Facebook Ads data to Google Analytics 4.
Step 1. Set up automated Facebook Ad Cost data collection into BigQuery
Start OWOX BI FREE Trial and in the Pipeline tab, click Create NEW Pipeline. Select Facebook & Instagram Ads as the data source:
Specify the date from which to start importing Facebook Ads cost data and click Create pipeline.
Step 2. Prepare your data for GA4
As we’ve mentioned in the previous method of manual import, the structure of the Facebook Ads Cost data is different from the Google Analytics 4 data structure.
That’s why you need to transform the data, merge with the other platforms’ cost data (eg. Facebook ads or Twitter ads data) prepare for reporting, make them GA4 accessible.
That’s why we’ve prepared a data transformation template to blend cost data from multiple sources together and make them GA4-accessible.
Open the Workspace page, click on the ‘New’ button, and select the ‘Transformation’ item.
On the next screen, you will see a bunch of prebuilt Templates. In order to get your Facebook Ads costs into GA4, select ‘Blended Adspend + GA4 Cost Data Import’ template.
Choose this template and you’ll get a BigQuery table with the the required data formated in Google Analytics 4 structure. Click the ‘Create transformation’ button.
Just follow the steps you see on the screen and schedule your transformation to run every day at 7 am or so.
Step 3. Setting up the Google BigQuery → Google Analytics 4 (via SFTP) pipeline
1. On the Workspace page, click the ‘New’ button and select the 'Pipeline' option in a drop-down menu:
2. As a source, select 'Google BigQuery':
3. Choose pipeline 'Google Analytics 4 (via SFTP) → Google BigQuery':
And click the 'Create & Setup' button:
4. The new pipeline has been successfully created in ‘Draft’ status. To start data import, you'll need to configure pipeline settings, including the source of your data, SFTP server configuration, and destination data format.
5. Set up source data:
5.1. Click on the ‘Source data’ section.
5.2. In the opened dialog, click on the ‘Select a dataset’ section.
5.3. Then you will see another dialog, where you can choose one of the shared datasets in the list. If this list is empty, or you didn’t find the desired dataset, you can click the ‘Grant access…’ button and add a new dataset following the instructions.
5.4. Click the ‘Save’ button to close the second dialog.
5.5. Specify the BigQuery table, where you have prepared data for importing to Google Analytics 4.
5.6. Click the ‘Save’ button to apply your changes.
5.7. If all is done correctly, the dialog will close, and in the "Source data" section you will see a green marker with the name project.dataset.table.
6. Configure SFTP-server in combination with creating a new Data source in Google Analytics 4.
6.1. Please, open two browser tabs: the first one with the OWOX BI pipeline page, and the second one with the GA4 Admin page.
6.2. In the OWOX BI, click on the ‘SFTP server…’ section.
6.3. In the opened 'Setting up Data source in Google Analytics' dialog, you will see three sections:
- Required steps in the Google Analytics 4 interface.
- SFTP server username, that you need to copy here and paste into GA4 Data source settings.
- SFTP server URL.
Step 4. Create a data set in Google Analytics 4
In order to transfer cost data, you need to create a data set in Google Analytics 4:
- Go to the Administrator section, select Account, and find the Property that you want to import data to.
- Under the Data collection and modification select the “Data Import” Option.
3. Click “Create data source” button.
4. Next, choose Cost Data as the “Data type”, add a “Data source name”:
5. Select the “Import Source” (CSV, if you’re going to import data manually, or SFTP is you’ll use OWOX BI - you can find all of the SFTP (managed by OWOX) credentials inside your OWOX BI Project).
6. Select all the parameters shown in the screenshot below. At the end, check the Summation option to import data.
7. Click on “Create & generate key”
And paste it back into your OWOX BI Project to finish the setup.
Now to the final step: Click Create. That’s all! Cost data for Facebook Ads will automatically be transferred to Google Analytics 4.
Another minor thing before creating a data stream: You’ll need to check the currency settings and change if necessary.
OWOX BI will convert the currency from the advertising service to the currency specified in your Google Analytics 4.
If the currency of the advertising service is different from the GA4 property, we got you covered with the Open Exchange Rates Pipeline that takes all of the rates to your BigQuery, Plust we have a template to automatically convert your FB Ad costs into the desired currency.
You’ll be able to see the imported data within 36 hours. In just 4 steps (which take about 10 minutes), you’ll get a report with the data imported.
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Advantages of Using OWOX BI Pipeline for Importing Facebook Ad Data
Utilizing OWOX BI Pipeline for the import of Facebook ad data into Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has multiple benefits.
- It ensures data accuracy and consistency, which is crucial for minimizing discrepancies between Facebook Ads and GA4 data. This tool automates the data integration process, significantly saving time and reducing the likelihood of errors compared to manual data entry.
- It facilitates comprehensive reporting by merging Facebook Ads data with other analytics in GA4, allowing for a more complete view of advertising performance. This integration is pivotal for enhanced data analysis and segmentation, as it incorporates detailed Facebook Ads metrics into GA4.
- The OWOX BI Pipeline offers real-time insights into campaign performance, which is instrumental in making timely and informed decisions.
- It features customizable data mapping, enabling users to tailor data fields and metrics to their specific analytical needs. This is particularly useful for tracking user journeys across Facebook Ads and website interactions, offering a holistic view of the conversion funnel.
- The tool proves to be cost-efficient by reducing the necessity for additional analytics tools and aids in accurately measuring the return on investment by correlating ad spend with website conversions.
- It ensures data security and compliance, adhering to privacy regulations, which is increasingly important in today's digital landscape.
Collect all of your marketing data in Google BigQuery
OWOX BI supports not just one-time data loading operation. It can help you to integrate your data sources with Google BigQuery and automate updating your Google BigQuery with fresh data from your cloud apps with no additional effort or involvement!
As you can see, setting up automatic data import is quick and easy. If you follow our instructions, you’ll be able to see the imported cost data for your Facebook Ads campaigns in the Non-Google report in GA4. Once you create a data flow and set up automatic import, you’ll receive data in Google Analytics 4 once a day without an analyst or wasting your time.
Using OWOX BI, you can automatically import data from nearly any advertising service – not only from Facebook Ads but also from Twitter Ads, Instagram, Criteo, and others. You can try OWOX for free. As a bonus, after the trial ends, you can continue importing data from BigQuery to GA4 for free.
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What are the advantages of using OWOX BI Pipeline for importing Facebook Ads data into GA4?OWOX BI Pipeline offers numerous advantages for importing Facebook Ads data into GA4. It ensures accuracy and consistency in data, automates the integration process, and allows for comprehensive reporting by merging Facebook Ads data with other analytics. This leads to enhanced data analysis, real-time campaign insights, and cost-efficient management of analytics tools. Moreover, it helps in accurate ROI measurements and ensures data security and compliance.
What are the key methods for importing Facebook Ads data into GA4?There are several methods to import Facebook Ads data into GA4, including: Using a CSV file for manual import, Employing Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) for a more secure, automated process, Utilizing OWOX BI Pipeline for a fully automated, efficient, and error-free data import.
How does integrating Facebook Ads data with Google Analytics 4 enhance campaign analysis?Integrating Facebook Ads data into Google Analytics 4 (GA4) allows for a comprehensive view of marketing campaigns, blending social media insights with broader web analytics. This integration aids in tracking user journeys from Facebook ads to website interactions, enhancing audience insights, optimizing ad spending, and allowing for a more detailed performance analysis across various marketing channels.
Do I need any special tools or software to import Facebook Ads data to Google Analytics?Yes, you will need to use a data pipeline tool like OWOX BI to automate the process of importing data from Facebook Ads to Google Analytics.
What data can I import from Facebook Ads to Google Analytics?You can import a range of data from Facebook Ads to Google Analytics, including campaign, ad set, ad level data, and data on impressions, clicks, and conversions.
What is the benefit of importing Facebook Ads data to Google Analytics?By importing Facebook Ads data to Google Analytics, you can analyze the performance of your Facebook Ads campaigns alongside data from your other online marketing channels and your website. This allows you to understand the customer journey better and make more informed marketing decisions.