GA4 Adds New Conversion Counting Method

For everyone who has complained that conversions are counted differently in GA4 than Goals were in Universal Analytics… GA4 has just released an update you will be interested in.

In Universal Analytics, a Goal was only counted once per session. This meant that if you had a Goal setup for a purchase, and a customer made 3 purchases in the same session, the Goal would only fire once.

Love it or hate it, that’s how it worked. One could argue that it wasn’t exactly the most intuitive, essentially you should want to celebrate (aka fire a Goal) every time something as big as a purchase happens.

But others used this methodology religiously and counted all of their Goal activity on a session level. They only cared about the session conversion rate, not if individual actions happened more than once. 

I’ve actually had clients make use of custom metrics to actually get around the 1x/session count in UA so that they could count at an event level. GA4 made that hack unnecessary. 

When GA4 Conversions were first launched, they flipped this methodology upside down, and instead of deduplicating at the session level, a Conversion was counted every time the event fired. 

So if you had 3 purchases in the same session, it would be 3 Conversions.

Again, some liked this, some hated it. It has been another source of contention over the changes between UA and GA4. 

And now… you get to choose.

If you click into the Conversion table in the admin section of GA4, you can choose your counting method.

You can now choose, on an individual conversion level (woah!!), if you want it to count once per event or once per session. I think it’s really awesome that you can actually change this from event to event – but beware that can also lead to confusion over what’s what. 

Google recommends leaving this setting as once per event. For things like purchases, I’d agree. But if you have certain conversions you only want to count once per session, you are now able to do so, woo woo!

The Help Center article for this new feature does point out a couple of caveats that I wanted to highlight:

  • Goals automatically migrated from UA will be setup as once per session
  • All other conversions will default to once per event 
  • You can change either of these in the Admin settings

Also note that any changes, and any automatic migrations setting as once per session, only apply to the time this feature was released (this week) going forward. It is NOT retroactive, so if you do change a setting, know the data will mean different things from before and after the change. 

Link to the Help Center article with more details:

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