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Events and key events

[GA4] Conversions vs. key events

Understand the differences between conversions and key events
Experiment icon for Gradual feature rollout  Gradual feature rollout: This feature is not yet available for all Google Analytics properties.

To create a simpler and more intuitive experience in the way conversions are measured and reported across Google Ads and Analytics, we're unifying how conversions are defined.

Previously, important events that were marked as conversions in Analytics were measured differently from how Google Ads conversions are measured, leading to discrepancies between Google Ads and Analytics.

From now on, events that measure actions that are important to the success of your business are now called 'key events.' You can use the behavioral data from your key events to improve the user experience across your websites and apps.

A 'conversion' now refers to an important action that you want to use to measure the performance of your ad campaigns and optimize your bidding strategy. With an aligned definition of 'conversion' across Google Ads and Analytics, you can now, for the first time, view consistent conversion-based performance metrics in both Google Ads and Analytics reports.

Watch a video: This video describes the update to conversions in Google Analytics, including some background context and a description of what's changing. Read the translated video transcript.

 

Key Events and Conversions in Google Analytics: What's new

Key events

A key event is an event that measures an action that's particularly important to the success of your business. When someone triggers the event by performing the action, the key event is recorded in Google Analytics and surfaced in your Google Analytics reports.

Any event you collect can become a key event. To measure a key event, create or identify an event that measures the action and then mark the event as a key event. After you mark the event as a key event, you can see how many users perform the action and evaluate marketing performance across all channels that lead users to perform the action.

The following flow shows how to mark an event as a key event. In short, if an event is important to your business's success, you can mark the event as a key event in Analytics.

Event → Key Event

Example

It's important to know when a user scrolls to 90% of a lead-generation page on your website. When a user scrolls to 90% of the page, you know that the user has read through the page and viewed the sign-up form. In this example, you can identify the 'scroll' event on the Key events page in Admin and then mark the event as a key event, providing you with more enhanced behavioral reporting.

Conversions

A conversion is created in Google Ads from a Google Analytics key event and provides a consistent way of measuring important actions in both Google Analytics and Google Ads. A conversion helps you improve your marketing strategy by providing consistent conversion counts across platforms so you can understand and optimize your ad campaigns. Unlike key events, conversions are eligible for bidding and reporting in Google Ads.

To create a conversion, identify an key event that measures the important interaction and then in Google Ads, create a new conversion that's based on the Google Analytics key event. After you create the conversion in Google Ads, the conversion data is shared between Google Ads and Google Analytics so you're viewing the same data across platforms.

The following flow shows how to create a Google Ads conversion from a Google Analytics key event. In short, if an event is important to your business's success, you can mark the event as a key event in Analytics. Then, if the key event is important for optimizing ad campaigns and measuring their performance, create a conversion in Google Ads from the Analytics key event.

Event → Key Event → Conversion

Example

In addition to marking the 'scroll' event as a key event, you want to mark the 'generate_lead' event as a key event. While you could use the 'scroll' event to inform your Google Ads strategy, you may want to use the 'generate_lead' event instead because the 'generate_lead' event will inform you of when users complete the sign-up form on the lead-generation page, not just when they scroll through the form.

After you mark the 'generate_lead' event as a key event, you can create a Google Ads conversion based on the Google Analytics key event to optimize your marketing strategy. When you create the Google Ads conversion, a conversion is also created in Google Analytics and shared between the two platforms.

What you should do now

You don’t need to take any action on your existing setup. Key events are created and reported in the same way as legacy conversions in Google Analytics, enabling you to continue to highlight the events that are important to your business. And when you want to indicate that an event is important to your business, you can now mark the event as a key event.

If you were previously exporting legacy conversions from Google Analytics into Google Ads for bidding, then your existing conversions exported to Google Ads will not need to be changed, and you don't need to make any updates to your bidding setup.

For now on, if you have a linked Google Ads account, Google Ads conversions created from Analytics key events appear as conversions in the Advertising section in Google Analytics.

To create new Google Ads conversions going forward, you now need to create the conversions based on your Google Analytics key events within Google Ads.

You can also continue to access your historical conversion data as key event data, enabling you to continue to view year-over-year comparisons. Google Ads conversions that are shared with Google Analytics, however, do not have historical data associated with them.

Frequently asked questions

Why are conversions being renamed to key events?

We've aligned how we define the term 'conversion' between Google Ads and Analytics to make it simpler to measure the performance of your Google Ads campaigns across the two platforms. With this update, you can now view the same Google Ads performance metrics whether you're looking at reports in Google Ads or Google Analytics.

Additionally, this change brings with it more advanced reporting capabilities into Google Analytics 4 so you can measure your Google Ads performance directly within Google Analytics.

Finally, we've broken out the term 'key events' so you can continue to improve your product and user experience based on the actions that are most important to your business.

Do key events and conversions share the same attribution settings?

You can find the attribution settings for key events (formerly called conversions) on the Attribution settings page in Admin. From there, you can change the reporting attribution model and the key event lookback window.

  • The reporting attribution model affects how key events are credited in behavioral and performance reports.
  • The key event lookback window determines how far back in time an interaction is eligible for attribution credit.

With this update, you can change how conversions are reporting in Google Analytics through the Channels that can receive credit section of the Attribution settings page. From there, you can choose whether conversions from paid and organic sources are include in your Google Analytics reports, or if you only want to see conversions from Google Ads in your Google Analytics reports.

How do you create Google Ads conversions from Google Analytics key events?

Previously, when you wanted to bid against your legacy conversion data, you could import the legacy conversions into Google Ads so you could use them for reporting and bidding in Google Ads.

From now on, you can create Google Ads conversions based on your Google Analytics key events in your Google Ads account. For each key event, you can create one web conversion and one app conversion in each linked Google Ads account.

For example, if you were to mark the 'generate_lead' event as a key event, and you decide to create a web and app conversion in your four linked Google Ads accounts, you would create eight conversions in your four linked accounts based on the 'generate_lead' key event.

Can I use non-key events to create a conversion?

Yes, you can use any Google Analytics event to create a Google Ads conversion. If you create a Google Ads conversion from a non-key event, the event will automatically be marked as a key event.

How many Google Ads conversions can I create?

Google Analytics follows Google Ads' configuration limits. In other words, you can create as many conversions as you want based on Google Analytics key events.

Does this change affect other Google advertising platforms like Campaign Manager 360 and Display & Video 360?

The name change to 'key events' helps provide greater clarity between Google Ads and Google Analytics. As a result, conversions in other ad platforms are unaffected by the name change to 'key events.'

Will my Google Ads conversions based on key events get exported through BigQuery?

No, there's no plan for Google Ads conversions to be exported through BigQuery.

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