GA4 Update: Key events are replacing conversions

Google are amending event naming conventions within GA4, changing what were previously known as “conversions” to “key events”. This will be rolling out to all GA4 properties in the very near future.

Why are they changing?

Although at their core both conversions and events are based on events sent into Analytics; conversions distinguish themselves from events as they represent the most crucial things you want to measure from your website, and should therefore represent the end goal(s) of your website’s traffic.

Therefore, the name change makes sense from both a technical and semantic point of view, as conversions have always fundamentally been the key events, although this is not the motive behind the change.

The motive comes from Google attempting to reconcile the discrepancies between conversions reported in Google Ads and those same Google Ads conversions reported in GA4.

Why is there a difference?

The discrepancies are due to potential differences in 3 attribution and setting based factors that are shared by the platforms:

  • Lookback/conversion window settings
    • The period of time after which an ad is viewed or clicked that a conversion can be attributed to the ad. In short, Google Ads focuses on timing a conversion back to when an ad was clicked, whereas GA4 reports on when the conversion happened.
  • Counting method
    • Within Google ads you have an option of 3 counting methods for the conversions: Every conversion, One conversion or a mix of both. In GA4 you can choose between counting conversions once per event or once per session.
  • Attribution models
    • Although Data Driven Attribution (DDA) is the default, other attribution models can be selected in each of the respective platforms.

How will this be fixed?

To reconcile this, Google is amending the definition of a conversion within GA4. Conversions essentially become a Google Ads specific metric, being key events that inherit the attribution settings of the conversion from Google Ads, negating any attribution settings differences, causing conversions to match between the platforms.

It’s important to note that conversions will only match in the Advertising section. Other areas such as standard reports or explorations may still show different numbers due to varying attribution methods.

What do you need to do?

In short, there’s no actions you need to take to facilitate this change. However, there are some implications you should be aware of:

  • Conversion metrics will become Key Event metrics – e.g. ‘Session conversion rate’ will become ‘Key event conversion rate’.
  • Conversions in the Advertising section will now solely relate to Google Ads conversions.
  • An event can be both a key event and a conversion.

If you need to know more about GA4 set ups, audits or would like to discuss tailored training sessions for your business, please contact us: [email protected]