Goals, Conversions, Key Events → What’s Next

Sofia Wycisk
First published March 27th, 2024
Last updated March 28th, 2024
Learn more about goals, conversions & key events in GA4 & Google ads, also the difference betweeen conversions & key events in GA4.
Goals, Conversions, Key Events → What’s Next

Hey measurement guys & girls,

I am pretty sure you have already seen this announcement related to the conversion name change. Wait…what?!


1. The change is real

For those who somehow missed the buzz in the community – just a quick recap:

google's message on introducing key events

This is how Google defines the new change. In a nutshell, they are going to rename Conversions into Key Events.

You might be a bit confused right now. How far can Google go introducing new names and changing stuff around?

not sure what to do


You remember that in the good old Universal Analytics we used to have goals, and later Google introduced Conversions in GA4.

The question arises: Is this really about terminology? Or maybe there is something more behind it? Why do we need Key Events now? Well, I was thinking the same way trying to find the answers. From my own experience, I can say that it is really painful to feel lost in my GA4 property, searching for something after an interface change or seeing new terms.

In reality, many advertisers were complaining about the conversion numbers mismatch between GA4 & Google Ads, which is understandable.

So Google decided to address this issue diplomatically, phrasing it this way:

Google's statement on the name change of conversion to key event

When you check conversion numbers in GAds, it is normal that they do not match with your GA4 acquisition report because these are two different reports. Additionally, GA4&GAds perform different data calculations.

Over time, a lot of complaints have been coming from people who saw the mismatched numbers. For Google, the way to fix it was – bingo – renaming the existing Conversions into Key Events.


 2. Understanding what key events are NOT

Hmm…I love solving mysteries and thus always try to understand what the catch is. My train of thought led me to the idea that Google could be doing this to increase the number of GA4 conversions. By doing this, they could match them with the legacy Google Ads pixel which runs in the ‘grey mode’.

As a result, this could cause CPA bidding to go higher since a bid would be the same but the number of conversions would be higher. However, it does not seem to be the case as only the naming has been changed.


3. So what should we do now?

Not much, really – just embracing the change.


Step 1. Understanding what has changed exactly

These are not 2 different metrics, just different names so no need to freak out. And yes, you do not have to re-configure anything.

Key events in GA4 & conversion in google ads

  • According to Google, key events are created and reported the same way as conversions before.
  • You can mark an important event, such as a purchase or form submission, as a key event in GA4. You can also create conversions from key events that will be shared between your GA4 & GAds accounts.
  • Google Ads conversions created from GA4 key events will be shown as conversions in the Analytics advertising section.

Just to make sure we are on the same page:

The term Conversions will be used in GAds for Key Events that you have imported from GA4.

definition of key events in GA4 & conversion in Google ads

What if I do my reporting with the help of Looker Studio?

Google is being Google here, I would say. For now, they have started with Google Analytics and Google Ads. Currently, the names are unchanged in Looker Studio as well as the API name.

It is (highly) possible that it will take some time to see the changes in Looker Studio. As an option, you could manually rename the metrics in Looker Studio, but maybe a better idea would be just adding a note about the upcoming change to your reports.


Step 2. Sharing the industry news with colleagues & clients

A good move would be to inform your colleagues and clients about this change so that they are not taken aback when they open a GA4 property.

representation of the surprise of the key events announcement


Expect the change in the next few days, as Google usually rolls it out gradually. No Key Events in my accounts, at least at the very moment I am writing this.

But below is a screenshot of what it will look like:

Screenshot taken from the Google Demo account indiacting the presense of key events in the reports


Sofia Wycisk
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