Why are clicks in Terminus different than in Google Analytics or other tools?

It’s almost impossible to reconcile clicks between different systems. Even the definition of what counts as a click can be wildly different.

Terminus registers a new click if the same user (browser actually) hasn’t visited that short URL in the last 30 days. Terminus also ignores any traffic that it detects as a bot and won’t count it towards a click.

    • Some systems might count a new click/visit when the same user clicks within half an hour, some could take days.
    • Sometimes these sites will visit the short URLs themselves increasing click count in Terminus, but this may not be detected as bots.
    • Sometimes social media sites will count a click if a user interacts with any part of the post (e.g. clicking on a hashtag, profile name, etc.) even when they don’t visit the URL.
    • Some of the click counting by these sites is done via javascript which might be blocked by various ad blockers.
    • The bot detection of these sites could be different from that of Terminus since they can sometimes identify it much better due to them knowing which ones are bot accounts. Such traffic looks normal to Terminus since such bots cannot be detected at short url redirection level.
    • Many tools show visits only for a given time window, but Terminus also shows you total clicks for a given link.
    • An ad blocker can prevent Google Analytics or other scripts from registering a visit, but not Terminus short URL clicks.

Such disparities are quite common and have only increased in recent years. There are now many more bots, ad blockers, cookie blocking, and features being implemented in browsers, apps, etc. that make such counting difficult. Either one of these reasons can severely interfere with one method of counting while the other method is unaffected. The way these things behave also keeps changing rapidly. That makes aligning these numbers across systems almost impossible since everybody deals with them differently.

Our recommendation is to use Terminus clicks as an overall indicator of click activity, but it’s best to rely on something like Google Analytics for actual conversion numbers. It seems that it’s now even more important to use conversation rate along with the click count, which by itself is even less reliable than it used to be.

    • Since Terminus detects a click for short URL redirects, the ad blockers don’t affect it. A click in Terminus means the visit actually happened. 
    • Terminus is unlikely to undercount the clicks since it’s part of taking the user to the destination page.
    • Terminus can sometimes overcount if a visit by a bot is not identified correctly.
    • The click count shown in your Terminus account is generally delayed by 2-3 hours since we also generate some campaign-level reports in each project (which takes some time).

So clicks in Terminus may be higher, but not lower than the actual user traffic.

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