Discrepancies between Instapage analytics and third party tracking platforms

How Instapage tracking works

Instapage pixels fire on page load or on specific actions such as form submissions, element clicks or, for external tracking, on-page visit on another page where the external tracking script is present and set to load once the page loads.

Once the Instapage landing page loads, the tracking pixel for the visit is triggered and sent to our system.
The tracking is based on cookies. This means that when a new visitor (that does not have an Instapage cookie associated with the specific landing page being visited) lands on the page, he/she is counted as a unique visitor.
Any returning visitor (visitors who came back in a 3-day timeframe from their first visit) will be counted as non-unique and will add to the total number of visitors associated with the landing page. The cookie expiration for the visit pixel is set to 3 days from the moment the first visit occurs.


A. Potential causes for Instapage pixels not working properly

1. Adblocking browser extensions on the visitor's browser (AdBlocker, AdBlocker Plus, uBlock Origin, etc).

2. Other browser extensions that block tracking scripts. For example, the ones provided by antiviruses.

3. Browser settings. Examples:
- Chrome's "Allow sites to save and read cookie data" option, "Allow Javascript" option or the "Allow images" option
- Safari's "Prevent Cross-Site Tracking" option
- other browsers may have similar options or even more aggressive options.

4. In some cases, third-party scripts present on the landing page can also interfere with the proper functionality of the Instapage pixels.

5. Visitors clicking the URL to visit the page but quitting during the page load, thus not triggering the Instapage pixels. 


B. Potential causes for third-party tracking codes not firing properly on the page

Third-party tracking can fail for the reasons stated above as well, but also because of the following:

1. If the tracking is implemented via custom code, there might be errors in code syntax or code logic.

2. If the data is recent (less than a day), the third-party tracking platform may need more time to properly display data in their system (some platforms can require 24h to 48h for the data to be accurate and up to date).

3. Different scopes in the third-party tracking platform (example scope types from Google Analytics: "hit", "session", "user", "product"). Instapage tracking can be considered a "hit" scope type as every visit is counted, regardless of where the visitor is coming from and where it is redirected. Third-party tracking platforms, depending on the settings of their tracking, can have different scopes. An example would be the session scope type which counts only visitors who went through a full funnel of multiple pages or actions (based on how this is configured in the third-party platform).

4. Cookie expiration date. Instapage’s cookie expiration is set to 3 days. Other tracking platforms might have different cookie expiration dates, which results in a discrepancy between total and unique visitor count, when comparing this in the two platforms.

5. Different bot systems targeting the page. Depending on how the bot is set up to function and what actions it takes on the page, one system could track the visits done by the bot while the other could block them instead.

6. Data Sampling. Some tracking platforms, such as Google Analytics, can have an option enabled (even by default), known as Data Sampling. This is especially true for tracking platforms that work with huge amounts of data, as is the case for Google Analytics. When this option is enabled on the tracking platform's end, the reports visible there are based on estimations and calculations done by the tracking platform instead of the actual data recorded. The advantage of this option is that it provides a faster report to read in the tracking platform but can sometimes provide inaccurate information. Having this option disabled will provide more accurate information inside the tracking platform but will increase the time needed for the report to be loaded.

C. Potential causes for why the number of ad clicks would be different than the number of Instapage visits

1. Small typos in the URL can cause the ad to not redirect to the correct live URL of the page, and the visitors will not arrive on the landing page. In this case, the ad platform can count those clicks but Instapage will not register a visit since the visitors do not arrive on the landing page.

2. Visitors can quit the session by closing the browser tab before the landing page is loaded on their browser. This will also cause the ad platform to count clicks while Instapage will not count that visit as the page is closed before our tracking script is loaded.

3. If the page is being accessible outside of the ad (when the page is shared via social media accounts, email marketing, etc.), then the visits in Instapage will likely be higher than the ad clicks, since there are multiple sources of visitors, instead of having just the ad source alone.

4. Browser settings, adblockers or other extensions, as mentioned in Section A of this article.