What Are The Measurement Difference Between Google Ads and GA4?

Abisola Tanzako | Mar 07, 2024

Is there a measurement difference between Google ads and GA4?

Understanding the insights of your website with Google Ads and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is essential for the success of your online business. These tools provide comprehensive data about user behavior, marketing effectiveness, user experience, and audience demographics.

With Google Ads, you can see how well your ads perform, which keywords drive the most traffic, and how different ad campaigns compare. On the other hand, GA4 provides a deeper insight into how users interact with your website or app, their actions, and their journey through your site.

The relationship between Google Ads and GA4 allows you to see the complete picture of how your ads drive user behavior on your site. You can understand which ads lead to conversions, what user actions are taken after clicking on an ad, and how effective your ad spend is.

Additionally, understanding the measurement differences between Google Ads and GA4 is crucial for accurate data interpretation. They measure data differently, which can lead to discrepancies in the reported results. For example, In GA4, each occurrence of an event conversion is tallied, irrespective of whether it transpires repeatedly within a single session, while Google Ads typically utilize the last-non-direct-click model.

This post will give you an insight into what Google ads and GA4 are, their relationship, and their measurement difference.

What is Google Ads?

Google Ads is Google’s online advertising program. It is a pay-per-click (PPC) platform that allows businesses to gain visibility across Google’s properties. Through Google Ads, companies can target individuals precisely when their products and services pique their interest. The platform effectively drives relevant, qualified traffic to your website exactly when people search for the products or services your business offers.

According to Google, Google Ads is a tool for promoting business, facilitating product or service sales, generating awareness, and enhancing website traffic. It also offers the following:

  • Google Ads facilitates real-time tracking of ad performance
  • It employs contextual targeting to display your ads to individuals most likely interested in your products or services.
  • Google Ads provides detailed analytics about your ad’s performance, which includes data on impressions, clicks, conversions, and more.

What is GA4?

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is an analytics service that lets you measure traffic and engagement across your websites and apps. The purpose of GA4 is to allow you to measure how users find and interact with your website. It shows you a lot of different metrics that tell you whether or not you are hitting those marketing goals.

According to Google, Introduced in 2020, GA4 (Google Analytics 4) represents the next evolution in analytics, gathering event-based data from websites and apps. It represents a new property type tailored for the future of measurement.

GA4 serves as an update to Google’s renowned data collection and analysis platform, aimed at assisting businesses with an online presence and gaining deeper insights into their customer base. It also offers the following:

  • It gives you an overview of how users landed on your website.
  • The data reveals the various actions taken by individuals after accessing the website.
  • With GA4, you can review general demographics and device information about a given audience.
  • For e-commerce businesses, it provides access to plenty of great insights on advertising-specific data and visualizes the metrics outside the account’s reports section.

Relationship between Google Ads and GA4

Google Ads and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) are interconnected tools that provide comprehensive insights into customer behavior. When the GA4 property is linked to a Google Ads account, data flows between the two, enabling to view  Google Ads campaigns in GA4 reports, import GA4 conversions into Google Ads, and enhance  Google Ads remarketing with GA4 audience data.

This integration offers a complete view of the customer’s journey, which includes everything from the first interaction to making a purchase and optimizing ads and websites. The synergy between Google Ads and GA4 allows for a more effective advertising strategy, improving return on investment (ROI).

Measurement difference between Google Ads and GA4

The measurement differences between Google Ads and GA4 are primarily due to their distinct approaches to tracking conversions, monitoring user metrics, and estimating audience size. These differences lead to variations in the data each platform reports.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of marketing efforts, it is crucial to have a deeper understanding of these differences and how they impact the insights derived from each platform. Let us explore these measurement differences between Google Ads and GA4:

1. Conversion counting

The counting of conversions in Google Ads and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) are unique because of their tracking techniques and attribution models. Google Ads allows users to configure conversion counting for each action, counts conversions at the time of the ad click, and records a distinct conversion for each conversion tracking tag on a single page. Additionally, Google Ads may count some interactions multiple times within a session.

GA4 usually records multiple conversions per ad click; it is a single conversion per event and considers the actual transaction’s time for conversion counting. These variances can cause inconsistencies when comparing conversion metrics between the two systems, but comprehending these differences can aid in refining marketing strategies.

2. Conversion tracking

GA4 (Google Analytics 4) adopts a broad approach to conversion tracking, accounting for conversions from all traffic sources and mediums. This provides a clear view of user interactions and conversions. In contrast, Google Ads has a more focused scope, only counting conversions that result from clicks on Google ads and opinions of video ads. This allows for a more targeted analysis of the effectiveness of specific marketing efforts.

3. Conversion timing

Google Ads and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) employ distinct methodologies for tracking conversions. Google Ads attributes a conversion to the precise instant a user clicks on an ad. This approach focuses on the initial interaction. While GA4, the latest version of Google Analytics, adopts a different strategy, it records a conversion when the action or transaction occurs.

This method offers a more detailed view of user behavior, capturing the full scope of the user’s journey beyond the initial click. This difference in conversion tracking gives marketers diverse perspectives, enabling a more comprehensive understanding of user engagement and campaign effectiveness.

4. Conversion calculation

Google Ads and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) use different strategies for measuring user engagement. Google Ads focuses on the total number of impressions, the cumulative instances in which an ad is displayed, contributing to its broad metrics.

While GA4 prioritizes the total count of unique users, indicating the individual users who interact with a website or an ad, this difference in approach provides a variety of viewpoints on user engagement, offering a more comprehensive understanding of user interaction and participation in digital advertising campaigns.

5. Reporting

Google Ads and GA4  also differ in their reporting methods. Google Ads uses interaction time to record users’ interactions with an ad. On the other hand, GA4 uses event time, logging when an event occurs. This difference can cause inconsistencies in the timing of conversions and the attribution of campaigns. This is important to consider when analyzing data from these platforms.

6. Conversion measurement

GA4 (Google Analytics 4) offers a comprehensive approach to measuring conversions, as it tracks events throughout your website or application and even across different devices.

On the other hand, Google Ads is more concentrated on monitoring the specific outcomes of marketing initiatives. It zeros in on the results of individual campaigns, providing detailed insights into their effectiveness.

How does the measurement difference between Google Ads and GA4 impact your website?

The measurement differences between Google Ads and GA4 can significantly impact  websites in several ways:

Data interpretation

How Google ads and GA4 platforms count conversions, track user metrics, and calculate audience size can lead to discrepancies in reported data. This can affect how we interpret a website’s performance and the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.


The differences between Google ads and GA4 can influence decision-making. When using both platforms and noticing a discrepancy in conversion data, users should investigate further to understand which platform’s data aligns more closely with business goals.


Understanding these differences can help optimize marketing efforts. For instance, knowing that GA4 counts every conversion event, even if it happens multiple times in the same session, can help to understand user behavior better and optimize the user’s website for various conversions.

Budget allocation

With Google Ads, understanding these measurement differences can help allocate the advertising budget more effectively, especially if GA4 shows a higher conversion rate for a particular campaign.


Q.1 What distinguishes Google Ads from GA4 in terms of measurement?

The main difference is in how they track and report conversions. Google Ads counts a conversion at the exact moment when a user clicks an ad, while GA4 records a conversion based on the specific time when the transaction occurs.

Q.2 Can the difference in measurement lead to discrepancies in data?

Yes, the difference in how Google Ads and GA4 measure conversions can lead to discrepancies in the reported data. The two platforms may record the same conversion event at different times.

 Q.3 Why is there a discrepancy between Google Ads and GA4?

Discrepancies occur due to their distinct focus and measurement techniques. Google Ads tracks clicks, whereas Google Analytics focuses on user sessions. They each employ different methodologies for conversion attribution. Furthermore, elements such as incorrect configuration, ad blockers, and differing data reporting timelines can lead to slight discrepancies in the data.

Q.4  Does the difference between GA4 and Google Ads imply that my data needs to be more accurate?

The differences between Google Ads and GA4 do not imply that your data needs to be corrected. Instead, these differences highlight how these two platforms measure and report data. Google Ads centers on clicks and assigns conversions to the moment of the ad click. In contrast, GA4 monitors user sessions and logs conversions at the time the event takes place. Grasping these differences is essential for accurately interpreting your data.


Understanding the measurement differences between Google Ads and GA4 is vital. Recognizing these differences can fully utilize both platforms and gain a holistic view of marketing initiatives. These insights are significant and fundamental for making data-driven decisions, enhancing marketing strategies, improving the user experience, and propelling business growth. These insights are necessary for one to overlook opportunities to boost engagement, escalate conversions, and grow your business.

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