How to Connect Google Ads to GA4

December 11, 2023

Save time and make more informed decisions by connecting your accounts

Did you know you can check your Google Ads data directly in Google Analytics? By connecting your Google Ads account to GA4, you can save time, improve your audience segmentation, track across devices and measure your ROI.

How to do it:

Step 1 – Make sure you’re in the right Account-Property in Google Analytics by checking the name of the account with the property you are linking to in GAds.

Step 2 – Open Admin (bottom left corner). Then select “Google Ads Links” in the Product Links settings of the selected Property. 

Step 3 – Click the “Link” button.

Step 4 – Click “Choose Google Ads accounts” and select the Google Ads account(s) you would like to link. 

*Note if you don’t see the account you wanted to link, most likely you don’t have the required (Google Ads Admin) access to the account.

Step 5 – Click “Confirm”, then click “Next”.

Step 6 – It is recommended to leave The Configure settings unchanged. The only thing you might consider to adjust is the “Enable Auto-Tagging” option. By default, it is set in the “auto-tagging” mode. So, if you prefer to utilize manual tagging you’d need to switch this to “Leave my auto-tagging settings as they are”. 

*Important Note for the accounts with auto-tagging disabled, Google will report the data as organic, until you manually add custom tags.

Step 7 – Click Next to review your settings, then click Submit to link your Google Ads and Google Analytics 4 accounts.

One more thing…

As soon as you’re done with the GA4-GAds link, you will need to import Conversion events to Google Ads account. If the connection is already established, you don’t need to create one more link in the GAds UI. 

Step 1 – Sign in to your Google Ads account.

Step 2 – On the left side, click Admin. Then navigate to Conversions > Summary and hit the “+ New conversion action” button.

Step 3 – Select the “Import” option. Then, select the “Google Analytics 4 properties” option and select between two types App (Firebase) and Web. There are plenty of other options (they aren’t relevant for this particular guide).

Step 4 – Select the conversion events you would like to import.

Step 5 – Click “Import” and continue. And then “Done” on the next screen.

* Important note: The GA4 conversion data is available in Google Ads interface from the day you actually Import those. No historical data is added in Google Ads before this date.

How to access your ad data in GA4:

Keep in mind that it takes up to 48 hours for the data to appear in the GA4 UI. Let me share the most popular places where you can find the GAds data. All the views can be accessed by doing what/where:

1. Acquisition – Acquisition Overview. 

Here, you’ll find a set of predefined cards. The one on the right side shows the Google Ads data. You can drill down to the exact report by clicking on “View Ads campaigns” on the bottom of the card.

As soon as you open the report, you’ll see your GAds campaigns alongside the essential metrics like Users, Sessions, Engaged Sessions, Ad Clicks, Costs, Return on ad spend.

*Important Note: Don’t forget to scroll the report. GA4 UI appears to be quite challenging for some users especially because of the horizontal scrolling.

2. Acquisition – User acquisition

This report shows information about the users broken down by acquisition channel in a selected time period. Useful information, but there are some limitations. 

There’s a list of primary dimensions to pick from. Each of them will help you to analyze the data under different angles.

3. Acquisition – Traffic acquisition: Sessions

This report is not very useful, but can be utilized to run some analyses. By default, the traffic is broken down into channels. However, you can change the default dimension to “Campaigns” and check the data. Unfortunately, there will be other campaigns as well. And, there’s no easy way to remove them from this report. So, I’d recommend utilizing the “Exploration” reports instead.

4. Explorations – Free Form 

This is my favorite part of GA4. From my POV, it works almost perfectly and can be trusted. With these exploration reports, you can slice and dice the data in the way you want. Mind you,  the more secondary dimensions you add, the longer it will take for the report to load. Apart from that, the feature is flexible and has an intuitive interface, which makes it easy to operate.

Things to keep in mind:

1. It takes some time after the link is established. Usually, it is up to 48 hours. If you don’t see any data yet, try giving it some more time.

2. If you have both UA and GA4 linked to your GAds account, it might cause data duplication. Conversions might be counted from both systems, giving you an inflated number  so switch to GA-4 based conversion by doing what 

5. Google Ads and GA4 have different attribution models and lookback windows. This is the main cause of discrepancies between these two systems.

6. Conversions events in Google Ads are being counted the old-fashioned (GAU) way. GAds will count three conversions if a conversion event triggered three times during the same session;. GA4 will count only one conversion event as long as those conversions happened during the same session.

7. If you’ve decided to switch to manual tagging, be consistent  and use the same logic. Don’t forget to add the correct source and medium to your campaigns. Otherwise Google will allocate those sessions according to default settings, which are not always quite correct.

8. Sampled data is still an issue in GA4. Depending on the data set, you might face some sampling. There are not too many workarounds. At this point, you can either utilize BigQuery for your reporting needs or simply decrease the time range/secondary dimensions amount.