How to Link Google Ads and Google Analytics 4 for Better Marketing Insights

Published: 5 June 2023

Updated: 29 January 2024

How to Link Google Ads and Google Analytics 4 for Better Marketing Insights

Google Ads and Google Analytics 4 are two powerful tools that can help businesses track and improve their marketing campaigns. However, they can be even more effective when used together. By linking your Google Ads and Google Analytics 4 accounts, you can gain valuable insights into your target audience, how they’re interacting with your ads, and how your campaigns are performing overall. This information can then be used to improve your targeting, bidding, and overall marketing performance.

In this article, we’ll show you how to link your Google Ads and Google Analytics 4 accounts. We’ll also discuss the benefits of linking these two accounts and how you can use the data to improve your marketing campaigns.

Table of Contents:

  1. Why Link Google Ads and Google Analytics 4
  2. How to Link Google Ads and Google Analytics 4
  3. How to Link GA4 in Google Ads Interface and Import Conversions
  4. How to Find Google Ads Data in GA4
  5. Discrepancies between GA4 and Google Ads
  6. Conclusion

Why Link Google Ads and Google Analytics 4

Linking your Google Ads and Google Analytics 4 accounts can provide you with valuable insights into your marketing campaigns. For example, you can use data from Google Analytics 4 to identify which ads are most effective at reaching your target audience. You can then use this information to create more targeted ad campaigns in Google Ads.

You can also use data from Google Analytics 4 to track how users interact with your website or app after they click on your ads. This information can then be used to optimize your bidding strategies and get more out of your advertising budget. By linking your Google Ads and Google Analytics 4 accounts, you can gain a more holistic view of your marketing performance. You can later use this data to make informed decisions about your marketing campaigns and improve your results.

 

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How to Link Google Ads and Google Analytics 4

To link Google Ads to Google Analytics 4, you need to have the Editor permission in GA4 and the Admin level access in Google Ads. You can link a Google Ads Manager account to get GA4 data across all the ad accounts.

Here’re the steps to link Google Ads to Google Analytics 4:

  1. Go to your Google Analytics 4 property and click the Admin cogAdmin cog GA4
  2. In the Product Links section, click Google Ads LinksProduct links
  3. Click the blue Link buttonLink button
  4. In the Link setup interface, select the Google Ads account that you have admin access toChoose Google Ads account
  5. Click the blue Confirm button and then Next
  6. Configure the settings for Personalized Advertising and Auto-Tagging; both are turned on by defaultPersonalized advertising and auto-tagging
  7. Review your settings and click Submit to complete the linkingReview and submit
  8. Once you have successfully linked your Google Ads account to Google Analytics 4, you will see a “Link Created” message with green highlighted textLink created

Please note that it may take up to 24 hours for the data to show up.

The account details will also be shown in the step 3 interface; you can click on the arrow icon to view the link setup details, edit personal advertising settings, or delete the link

Google Ads account details

How to Link GA4 in Google Ads Interface and Import Conversions

Linking your Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and Google Ads accounts is essential for getting a holistic view of your marketing performance. By linking the accounts, you can track how your ad campaigns are driving conversions on your website or app. If you’ve already linked the accounts in GA4’s interface, then you don’t need to link them again in Google Ads. However, you still have to import the conversions.

Here’re the steps on how to link GA4 in the Google Ads interface and import conversions:

  1. Go to your Google Ads account
  2. Click Tools & Settings; under Setup, click Linked accountsTools and settings
  3. Click Details in front of Google Analytics (GA4) & FirebaseDetails
  4. You’ll see all the GA4 accounts you can access and other details here; click Link under the Actions columnActions
  5. In the next prompt, check if you want to import GA4 audiences into Google Ads and click LinkLink GAds and GA4

That’s it! You’ve successfully linked both accounts from the Google Ads interface. This will also be reflected in the Status column.

Check links

To view conversions and other metrics, click Activate under the Apps and web metrics column. This will be reflected under the Status column as “Linked: App and web metrics activated.

You can now use these conversion events in your Google Ads campaigns as well, and see the data flow between both tools.

Here’re some things to keep in mind when linking your GA4 and Google Ads accounts:

  • Google Ads didn’t ask us about Auto-tagging and Personalized Ads settings; both are turned on by default
  • Google Ads asked us about using GA4 audiences that weren’t present in GA4’s link setup process
  • Once Auto-Tagging is enabled, neither platform allows to turn it off (at least not currently)
  • To import conversions and other metrics, we have to activate them in the Google Ads interface, no matter which tool we use to link both accounts

It’s not important which tool’s interface you use for connecting them, as long as you choose the right settings and make the best use of the linking by sharing conversion data and audiences.

 

How to Find Google Ads Data in GA4?

Once you have linked your Google Ads and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) accounts, you can find Google Ads data in GA4 in the following places:

  • Acquisition → Overview → View Google Ads campaigns card
  • Acquisition overview

    This card provides a high-level overview of your Google Ads campaigns, including metrics such as clicks, cost, cost per click, and return on ad spend.

  • Acquisition → User acquisition report → Select Google Ads dimensions
  • Google Ads dimensions

    This report shows you how users came to your website or app through Google Ads, including the ad group name, keyword text, and query.

  • Acquisition → Traffic acquisition report → Select Session campaign dimension
  • Session campaign dimension

    This report shows you how users came to your website or app through any campaign, including Google Ads.

  • Explorations. You can create your own explorations to view Google Ads data in any way you want. For example, you could create an exploration to see how different ad groups are performing or to see how your Google Ads campaigns are driving conversions.

Which method you use to find Google Ads data in GA4 depends on your needs. If you want a high-level overview of your Google Ads campaigns, the Acquisition → Overview → View Google Ads campaigns card is a good option. If you want more detailed information about how users are coming to your website or app through Google Ads, the Acquisition → User acquisition report or Acquisition → Traffic acquisition report are better options. And if you want to create custom reports or visualizations, go with Explorations.

Discrepancies between GA4 and Google Ads

It’s normal for the data between GA4 and Google Ads not to match. There’re several reasons for this, depending on your business account.

  1. Attribution models. Google Ads uses the last-non-direct-click attribution model, while GA4 uses a data-driven attribution model. This means that GA4 gives credit to all the touchpoints that led to a conversion, while Google Ads only credits the last click. This difference can lead to different conversion numbers being reported by the two platforms.
  2. Different metrics. Google Ads focuses on clicks and ad impressions, while GA4 focuses on sessions, engaged sessions, and views. This means that a single user might be counted as multiple clicks in Google Ads but only as one session in GA4. This difference can also lead to different conversion numbers being reported.
  3. UTM tagging. If you’re not using auto-tagging or if you’re manually tagging your URLs incorrectly, the data may be messed up and/or will not be attributed to your Google Ads campaigns.
  4. Sampling. When you look at large data sets or data for a long time, GA4 may sample the data, which means that you won’t see the full data set. To prevent this, you can either reduce the duration or export the data to BigQuery and analyze it there.
  5. Missing or faulty tracking. Your tracking may be either faulty for one of the tools or completely missing on a different landing page. Even more of an issue is when cross-domain tracking doesn’t work well, and sessions are breaking. As a result, you’ll see more data in Google Ads and incorrect data in GA4.
  6. Time zones. If the time zones don’t match, the data won’t sync properly. This is an easy fix, as you can change the time zones and set the same time zone in both tools.
  7. Ad blockers. If your users are using ad blockers, they’ll generally block both tools. It can also happen that sometimes the ad blockers are on and other times not, which will send partial data. So, you would suffer when trying to compare the data.

There’re a few things you can do to reduce these discrepancies:

  • Use auto-tagging and make sure you are manually tagging your URLs correctly
  • Export the data to BigQuery and analyze it there if you’re looking at large data sets or data for a long time
  • Fix any missing or faulty tracking
  • Make sure the time zones are set the same in both tools
  • Consider using a third-party tool to help you compare the data from GA4 and Google Ads

It’s important to be aware of the reasons why there may be discrepancies between GA4 and Google Ads so that you can take steps to reduce them.

Conclusion

Linking Google Ads and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a great way to get better marketing insights. By linking the two platforms, you can see how your ads are performing in terms of website traffic, conversions, and other metrics. This information can help you optimize your campaigns and get better results.

If you need help linking Google Ads and GA4 or have any questions about how to use the two platforms, don’t hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to help you get started.

Connect Google Ads and Google Analytics 4

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