Revenue vs. Product Revenue: The Case of Mistaken Identity

Revenue vs. Product Revenue: The Case of Mistaken Identity


If you run an ecommerce business, you likely keep a close eye on the revenue metric being reported in Google Analytics.

What you might not know, however, is that Analytics actually keeps track of two distinct revenue-focused metrics—and they can be quite different.

Let’s dig into these two metrics and get a better understanding of what they’re really telling us.

Note: This post will dive into some of the JavaScript code that controls Google Analytics, but is meant to be high-level enough that non-coders can understand it, too.

Product Revenue vs. Revenue

The handy-dandy tooltips within Google Analytics define the two metrics as such:

  • Revenue – The total revenue from web ecommerce or in-app transactions. Depending on your implementation, this can include tax and shipping.
  • Product Revenue – Revenue from individual product sales.

Pretty straight forward, right? Revenue is the total amount of money you made and product revenue is how much of that is tied to a specific product. Mystery solved; blog post over.

… well, not quite.

It isn’t always the case that your revenue and product revenue metrics will match up.

How Is Revenue Calculated?

This has to do with how your website passes revenue data to Google Analytics. The high level explanation is: when a user completes a purchase, the code below fires:

ga('ecommerce:addTransaction', {
'id': '1234', // Transaction ID. Required.
'affiliation': 'Acme Clothing', // Affiliation or store name.
'revenue': '11.99', // Grand Total.
'shipping': '5', // Shipping.
'tax': '1.29' // Tax.
});

That highlighted line is the key. Whatever number appears there is what gets sent to Analytics as the overall revenue for the order.

That number is calculated by your shopping platform and dynamically added to the Google Analytics code.

You’ll notice that shipping and tax are also sent to Google Analytics individually. That data is not added together, but Google Analytics does report on shipping and tax as unique metrics within ecommerce reports.

How Is Product Revenue Calculated?

Now that we have a better sense of how overall revenue is calculated, let’s take a look at how product revenue is passed to Google Analytics and see if we can figure out where any discrepancies might come from.
ga('ecommerce:addItem', {
'id': '1234', // Transaction ID. Required.
'name': 'Fluffy Pink Bunnies', // Product name. Required.
'sku': 'DD23444', // SKU/code.
'category': 'Party Toys', // Category or variation.
'price': '11.99', // Unit price.
'quantity': '1' // Quantity.
});

Once again, the yellow line highlights the crucial piece of information: Price.

While not as clearly labeled as the revenue number in the overall transaction code, the price listed here is the price that’s recorded in Google Analytics for the given product’s revenue—with one crucial exception.

In this instance, Google Analytics actually does do the math, multiplying the value for price by the value for quantity in the line below it.

In our example above, only one fluffy pink bunny was ordered, so we’re left with $11.99 being reported as the product revenue in Analytics. If someone had ordered three fluffy pink bunnies, our product revenue would be $35.97.

So When Should You Use Which Version?

For most reporting, you’ll likely want to use the overall revenue metric. This is the default metric in most ecommerce-based Google Analytics reports, but you’ll want to be careful to make sure you’re using this one if you’re pulling data from SuperMetrics, DataStudio, or some other reporting platform.

That said, if you’re reporting on how specific products perform, you’ll want to use the product revenue metric. For example, if you own a guitar shop and you want to measure how a set of 10 guitars performed against each other, product revenue will give you the best insight.

Joshua DeGrasse-Baumann

Josh has worked as an SEO since 2014, when he started as a copywriting intern at Rocket Clicks. Now a manager of the RC SEO department, Josh considers himself an expert on technical SEO matters and complex analytics tracking/configuration. When he's not messing with websites or code, Josh likes to walk his dog, Bailey.

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