[UA] Comparing Analytics and Google Ads conversion metrics

The Analytics Goal Completions and Ecommerce Transactions metrics are calculated differently than the conversion tracking metrics in Google Ads. If you see values for these metrics in your Analytics account that differs from your conversion metrics in your Google Ads account, it doesn't necessarily mean that your tracking implementation is wrong; it could simply be a result of the different tracking methods.

Also, when you export Analytics goal-completion and ecommerce-transaction data to Google Ads, Google Ads performs different calculations of that data than Analytics does, so you'll see some differences in calculated values between the two products even when the underlying data is the same.

At a glance: Tracking differences between Goals, Transactions, and Google Ads Conversions

  Analytics: Goal Analytics: Transaction Google Ads: Conversion GA4: Conversions
Count Once per session per configured goal Many per session (Transactions with same Transaction ID within one session are not double counted.)

User configurable for each conversion action:

One conversion: Once per ad click

Every conversion: Many per ad click

By default this is set to “Every”, which means it can count multiple conversions per ad click.
Attribution time Time of Goal completion Time of Transaction completion Time of the ad query preceding the click that led to a conversion Time of conversion completion
Attribution source Last non-direct click model by default, but configurable (in the Model Comparison Tool). Last non-direct click model by default, but configurable (in the Model Comparison Tool). Only counted if the user has clicked on an ad from the Google Ads account (google/cpc traffic only) Cross-channel last click by default, but configurable (in the Model Comparison Tool).
Reporting Reported fully after a 72 hour processing window Reported fully after a 72 hour processing window Reported daily for your chosen conversion window (1-90 days, default: 30 days)  Reported fully after a 72 hour processing window
Handling of multiple codes on 1 page One session can have one goal completion for each configured goal. So, the total can be up to 20 per session. N/A If multiple Conversion Tracking tags for the same account are installed on a single page, Google Ads counts a separate conversion for each tag N/A

In depth: Accounting for the differences between Google Ads and Analytics tracking

If you're tracking the same conversion activity using both the Google Ads Conversion Tracking code and an Analytics Goal or Ecommerce Transaction, you'll notice data differences for the following reasons:

1. Attribution differences

The default attribution model for most conversions in Google Ads is data-driven attribution. On the other hand, for all reports except the Multi-Channel Funnels reports, Analytics uses a last click attribution model (or cross-channel last click in the case of Google Analytics 4) across all channels (excluding direct). For example, let’s say a user clicks on a creative from your Google Ads account, then returns the next day via a Google organic search result and reaches your Goal page or triggers a Transaction. Analytics will attribute the Goal or Transaction to google/organic.

By default, Google Ads will attribute the conversion to the Google Ads campaign if the account has Ads Conversion tracking set up. If you imported a Google Analytics event/goal, that goal does not count a conversion in Ads if the last click was google/organic.

2. Date of Transaction

Google Ads reports conversions against the date/time of the click that led to the successful action, not against the date of the successful action itself. This allows you to match the value generated to the right advertising cost. For example, let’s say a user makes a purchase on July 20th, but clicked on the creative three days earlier, on July 17th. In Google Ads, the conversion would be attributed to July 17th, the day of the click. Conversely, in Analytics, the conversion is attributed to July 20th, the day the conversion actually occurred. Note that the All conv. (by conv. time) column shows the number of conversions imported from Analytics based on the date of the conversion rather than the date of click. 

3. Reporting freshness

Google Ads conversion tracking numbers are reflected a little sooner (typically within 3 hours)  in Google Ads than imported goals/transactions from Analytics into Google Ads (typically within 9 hours). For Google Analytics 4 conversions it can take up to three hours for conversions to be available for import in Google Ads and one hour for conversion data to show in reports.

4. One conversion vs. Every conversion

In Analytics you can configure Goals or use Ecommerce Transactions to count conversions. Goals can be defined as a Pageview, Event, or interaction such as Time on Site. Each Goal in Analytics can only be counted once per session.

Conversely, Google Ads Conversion Tracking has no concept of "sessions" and counts multiple conversions in a given date range. For example, if a user reaches the same conversion page twice in a given session, then only one Goal will be counted in Analytics, but each conversion could be counted in Google Ads if the counting preference for that conversion action is set to "Every" (setting the counting preference to "One" will count only one conversion per click).

Unlike Goals, Transactions in Analytics can be counted multiple times in a session provided each Transaction has a unique transaction ID. This means that users who completed multiple Transactions in a given session will register multiple Transactions in Analytics. This is similar to counting Every conversion in Google Ads Conversion Tracking, although Google Ads allows you to pick your counting preference for all conversion actions, including sales.

Learn more about how metrics are calculated in Analytics.

5. User preferences to different tracking methods

Because Analytics and Google Ads do not require the same tracking method to record Goals and Transactions, sometimes conversions are counted in by one method but not by the other. If, for example, a user disables, opts-out, or blocks a method (e.g., specific cookies) that Analytics uses to track data about a website session, a conversion might not be recorded by Analytics, but might still be recorded by Google Ads.

6. Account level tracking

You may be sending clicks from ads in multiple Google Ads accounts to a single website, which is tracked by one Analytics property. If this is the case, then you may see more conversions in Google Ads than in Analytics, depending on whether you are using Google Ads Conversion Tracking or importing Analytics Goals into Google Ads.

Google Ads Conversion Tracking can be set up either at the individual account level, or across multiple accounts using cross-account conversion tracking; i.e., Google Ads only counts a conversion if the click originated from the single Google Ads account (in case of account-level conversion tracking) or a group of accounts that share the cross-account conversion tracking. Analytics, on the other hand, tracks user behavior at the property level.

This is important because conversions are not de-duplicated for a single user in Google Ads if you are using Google Ads Conversion Tracking at the account level. For example, assume you have two Google Ads accounts (account A and account B) and you have identified the same action as a conversion for each account by adding the appropriate Google Ads Conversion Tracking snippet for both accounts to the page and designating it as a Goal in Analytics. Next, assume a single user clicks on an ad from the first account (A), then clicks on an ad from the second account (B) and finally converts. Each Google Ads account would report a conversion, even though it was a single user. According to the default Analytics attribution methodology, this would only be counted as one conversion and it would be attributed to the campaign from the second account (B) since that was the last interaction before the conversion.

If on the other hand, both accounts A and B are managed by a common manager account (My Client Center) and use cross-account conversion tracking, only one conversion will be counted and will be attributed to the second account based on last-click model.

If you are importing Analytics Goals and Transactions into your Google Ads accounts, then your conversions are automatically de-duplicated across multiple Google Ads accounts. In this scenario, assume you have two Google Ads accounts (account A and account B), and you have designated a Goal page in Analytics. You have also reported that one Analytics Goal into both Google Ads accounts (but you have not added the Google Ads Conversion Tracking for either account to the page). Next, assume a single user clicks on an ad from the first account (A), then clicks on an ad from the second account (B) and finally converts. The conversion would be attributed to the second account (B) in both Analytics and Google Ads. By default (assuming no adjustments via Google Ads Attribution or Multi-Channel Funnels), the first account (A) would not be attributed with any conversions in either tool.

In either case, you can use the Multi-Channel Funnels reports in Analytics to see the overview of user activity, including assist paths to conversions.

7. Cross-device conversions

Google Ads conversion tracking enables cross-device conversion estimates that are reflected in the All conversions and Conversions columns in Google Ads. This is based on actual measurements and estimates derived from users that have signed in to Google across different devices.

8. Phone call conversions

Certain conversion actions are only supported in Google Ads conversion tracking and are not currently offered in Analytics tracking. If you use call extensions, calls that originate from those extensions and last longer than a configured duration (configurable in Google Ads) are counted as call conversions. Such conversions cannot currently be tracked using Analytics goals.

9. Imported transactions

When an Analytics Transaction is imported to a Google Ads account from a linked Google Analytics property, its Transaction ID is imported to Google Ads as the Order ID. Google Ads de-duplicates based on Order ID, so each Transaction will be counted once in Google Ads. However, multiple transactions for the same ID might be counted in Analytics reports if a user loads a conversion page with the same Transaction ID in different sessions. 

10. Confirm if modeled conversions are the issue

After you do all other reporting checks, if Google Ads still has more conversions than GA4, then modeled conversions are a likely reason for the discrepancy.

Currently, conversion modeling in GA4 is done separately from conversion modeling in Ads. GA4 only exports observed conversions to Google Ads. Ads then applies conversion modeling on top of those observed conversions. Additionally, conversion modeling in GA4 doesn’t change the total number of conversions reported, but conversion modeling in Ads can increase the total number of conversions. These can cause discrepancies in the conversions reported in GA4 compared to the conversions reported in Google Ads.

There’s no option to turn off modeled conversions for GA4. Conversion data will be modeled when necessary data cannot be observed.

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