Net Atlantic Inc. Professional Email Marketing and Email Deliverability Experts

Professional Email Marketing

When Email Click-through and Website Analytics Numbers Don’t Always Make Sense

Getting Ad Blocked – Why It Happens, and What To Do About It

By RJ Phipps, Partner and Vice President

This story may sound familiar. An email marketing manager just presented their monthly email performance data to management. They and their team have worked hard to increase engagement numbers, drive traffic to the web site, and ramp up revenue. Rightfully so, all are feeling pretty good about their efforts.

Then there is a call out from the back of the room. The resident data geek notices that the click through numbers are higher than the reported web visits for the same time period. They are not a little, but much higher, like a decimal point was moved in the wrong direction.

All eyes are on the marketing manager and people want an explanation about why the click through numbers are so different than those of the website visits. How can click-throughs be higher than web visits? Don’t you have to visit a web site first, then click second? Aren’t web site visits always higher than click-throughs?

The Email Marketer May Have Been Ad Blocked!

Ad blocked is when advertisements are not tracked and not reported as being seen, because they are blocked. When that happens, all sorts of open, visits, and click-through data gets skewed, such as in this example given.

How Ad Blockers Work

Ad blockers work by identifying and removing the code that not only displays ads on a webpage but also track users interactions. This is usually done by using a list of known ad server domains and blocking requests to those domains, or by using pattern matching to find and remove ad code from the page's HTML or JavaScript.

Some ad blockers also use browser extensions or plugins to block ads, while others are built into the browser itself. Many web browsers boast of their ad-blocking capabilities and privacy features, and can be a compelling reason for people to use them. Popular ad blockers and browser plug-ins include uBlock Origin, Adblock Plus, and Privacy Badger.

How Google Analytics Works Technically As Related to Advertising Data

Google Analytics is a free web analytics service provided by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. It works by adding a small piece of JavaScript code, called the tracking code, to the pages of a website. This code is used to collect data about the user's interactions with the website, such as page views, clicks, and other user interactions. Google Analytics is extremely popular, with about 55% of all web sites using the free service from Google.

When a user visits a webpage that has embedded tracking code, the browser sends a request to the Google Analytics server to load the script. The script then executes on the user's browser and starts collecting data about the user's interactions with the website. This data is then sent to the Google Analytics server, where it is processed and analyzed to generate various reports and insights about the website's traffic and user behavior.

Google Analytics provides a wide range of reports and analytics that allow website owners to understand their audience, track the performance of their website, and make data-driven decisions. The data collected by Google Analytics can be used to track website traffic, bounce rate, conversion rate, user acquisition, user behavior and many other important metrics.

The Ad-Blocking Process and its effect on Google Analytics data collection

When a user visits a webpage that has the Google Analytics script embedded in its code, the browser sends a request to the Google Analytics server to load the script. Ad blockers work by intercepting these requests and blocking them, preventing the script from loading and executing on the user's browser. As a result, Google Analytics is unable to track the user's activity on the webpage, including page views, clicks, and other user interactions. These blocked interactions change data reporting results. Sometimes, the data falsely reports that web site visits go down, but that engagement goes up.

This can lead to a significant underreporting of website traffic and also user engagement in the Google Analytics reports. This is because the ad-blocker is preventing Google Analytics from collecting data from the users who have the ad-blocker installed. Therefore, web visitor data collected by Google will only be from the users who do not have the ad-blocker installed. This can lead to a significant difference in the data collected and the actual data of the website visitors.

It's worth noting that some ad-blockers may also allow or block Google Analytics on a case-by-case basis or allow the Google Analytics script to run but block the tracking code, allowing Google to track the visitor but not track the clicks or other interactions. Therefore, it's important to check whether the ad-blocker is blocking the Google Analytics script or its tracking code, which can be done by checking the browser's developer console or by using other debugging tools.

Six Ways to Mitigate or Circumvent the Effects of Ad Blocking

1) Use a JavaScript-based detection method: You can use JavaScript to detect if an ad-blocker is blocking the Google Analytics (GA) script. You can do this by creating a small script that attempts to load the GA script and then check if it was successfully loaded. If the script is blocked, you can display a message asking the user to disable their ad-blocker to allow GA tracking.

2) Use a server-side detection method: You can also use a server-side detection method to check if your visitors are using an ad-blocker. You can do this by checking the user-agent string of the incoming request to your website. If the user-agent string matches that of a known ad-blocker, you can assume that the user is using an ad-blocker and display a message asking them to disable their ad-blocker.

3) Use a third-party service: There are also third-party services available, such as Blockmetry, that can be used to detect if an ad-blocker is blocking the GA script. These services can track ad-blocker usage on your website and provide detailed reports.

4) Use GA alternative tracking: You can also use an alternative tracking method such as using log file analysis or using a self-hosted analytics solution.

5) Whitelisting your domain: Some ad-blockers allow users to whitelist specific domains, this means that the user's ad-blocker will not block the GA script on your website.

6) Communicate with your visitors: You can communicate with your visitors by providing them with a message explaining the impact of ad-blockers on your website and the importance of GA tracking for the website's performance, and ask them to disable their ad-blocker or to whitelist your domain.

Imperfect Data

It's worth noting that while these methods can help you mitigate the effects of ad-blockers on your Google Analytics tracking, it's not 100% accurate and is likely that some visitors may still be using ad-blockers that are not detected.

Additionally, some visitors may have Google Analytics script blocked for other reasons, such as browser extensions or security software. Therefore, it is important to constantly monitor your Google Analytics data and look for any discrepancies in website traffic, click-through rates and other metrics.

Also, consider testing different methods to detect ad-blockers and track website traffic, and use a combination of methods to ensure the most accurate data possible. Overall, it's important to understand that ad-blockers are a reality of modern web browsing and to take steps to mitigate their effects on your Google Analytics tracking to ensure that you are able to make informed data-driven decisions for your business or website.

Also note that virtually all web hosting companies provide clients with web site traffic reports which show traffic to your web site. These traffic reports should be viewed on occasion as another tool to measure traffic to your web site. These traffic reports are more “raw” in that they are not necessarily interpreted for you, but they can be more accurate in some ways since they are not subject to putting any web site code on your web pages to record hits and activity to your web pages.


Tracking visitor and click data accurately is more challenging as large stakeholders fight each other to either track your activity or conversely secure your privacy.

This requires the web site stakeholder to look deeper into the data to correctly ascertain what’s really happening with web site visitors and their engagement.


Winning in the 3D Chess Game of Email Marketing

The 5 Biggest Mistakes You’re Making with Your Email Marketing And how to fix them

Top 5 Reasons People Unsubscribe From Your Email Communications





Our Other Services Include

Inbox Experts

An expert service designed for the modern marketer looking to improve their inbox delivery, increase engagement, and increase the rate of return on their marketing spend.
Learn More >


Outsource your outbound email campaigns to the email experts at WeSendIt. Relax while we prepare and send your next email marketing campaign for you. Great for both small and large email marketing campaigns.
Learn More >


Put ListBuddy on your side to clean and validate your list. When your list is properly maintained, your email marketing campaigns will reach more inboxes, achieve better engagement, and deliver higher returns.
Learn More >