Sorting the Latest GA4 Confusion

Sorting the Latest GA4 Confusion

If you’re stumped by the new Google analytics, take some solace in that you are not alone. Here’s some help.

So it seems Google is conceding that they have introduced some confusion with the forced switchover from legacy analytics to GA4. If you’re stumped by the new Google analytics, take some solace in that you are not alone, nearly everyone is.

It appears that the most important point of confusion from Google’s perspective is the feedback from their customers who keep asking why the “conversions” in their AdWords accounts don’t match up with the conversions in their GA4 account. To address this issue, Google has renamed “conversions” in Google Analytics to “key events.” This way, only “key events” that come from paid Google ads will show up as a “conversion” in GA4, while every other event that was previously set up to record a conversion will now be called a “key event.”

In the past, when you wanted to measure a website event such as a form submission, you would go into the admin section and mark these events as conversions. From now on, events that were previously set up as “conversions” will be called “key events.” The flow remains the same. You send events to GA4 and mark some of them as “key events.” This means that the other metric names have changed as well. Instead of “session conversion rate,” you will now see “session key event rate.” This renaming doesn’t solve anything, it just moves the confusion from one place to another, and importantly, away from AdWords.

Google’s ad reports will now match the conversion performance reports in GA4, but when looking at key events in the other reports, most people will still wonder why the key events coming from paid Google ads don’t match the conversions. This becomes especially confusing and cumbersome if you are using several different analytics tools.

So, conversions as a concept still remains in GA4, but it now applies only to those events that are also conversions in Google ads. If you have a key event in GA4 and that key event is also imported as a conversion in Google ads, then it will be displayed as a conversion in GA4.

For example, in the traffic acquisition report there was previously a column called “conversions.” Now it is called “key events.” This column now displays the events that are marked as “key events” in the admin panel of your GA4 account. When you go into the advertising section, you will see the conversion performance report, which now only includes AdWords conversions, or in other words, events that are imported as conversions from Google ads. This report will match up with your Google ads account, but if the report mentions key events at all, then you’re not looking at conversions from Google ads. You’re seeing events that have been marked as a key event.

For example, in the attribution section you now have “key event paths.” Previously, this report was called “conversion paths,” but now the name “conversion” is reserved only for Google ads. If you want to check Google ad conversions, and in this case I mean events that are imported as conversions to Google ads, then you go to the advertising workspace and look at the conversion performance report. If you want to check important events regardless of whether they came from Google ads or not, then you look at the key events column and use reports such as Explorations or standard reports, such as the newly labeled “key event paths.”

What actions do you need to take to accommodate this change? No action is required other than informing others about the name change. Conversions are being renamed to key events. Do you need to update your Google analytics tracking code? No. Will key events be calculated differently than the Legacy conversions? No. The functionality of key events remains exactly the same as the Legacy conversions. Google just changed the name. Can an event be marked as a key event and as a conversion at the same time? Yes. A form submission can be marked as a key event and it will be used in all reports where key events are mentioned, while at the same time it is also imported to Google ads as an event that will be marked as a conversion. When an event is considered a conversion in AdWords, it does not affect how it is calculated as a key event in GA4. As always with Google’s tech, this is a developing and ongoing situation. Cheers.

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