About primary and secondary conversion actions

In Google Ads, actions that you want your customers to take, or conversion actions, are grouped together into conversion goals. For example, the “Purchase” conversion goal contains all your conversion actions in which customers make a purchase.

For your goal, you want to select which conversion actions should be used for bidding optimization and included in your reporting. Those key actions are called “primary conversion actions”. Possible conversion actions that are not directly used for campaign optimization are called “secondary”. Most conversion actions can be set to either primary or secondary, but some conversion actions aren't able to be set as primary or secondary. For example, store sales direct conversion actions can't be set as primary, and store visits can't be set to secondary.

When you set up conversion tracking, you will be selecting primary and secondary conversion actions that support a defined goal:

  • Primary actions: These are conversion actions that are reported in the “Conversions” column in your reports and used for bidding as long as the standard goal they are part of is used for bidding.
  • Secondary actions: These conversion actions are for observation only. They are used for reporting in the “All conversions” column in your reports, but not for bidding, even if the goal they are included in is used for bidding. The one exception is if the secondary action is part of a custom goal, in which case it’s used for bidding. However, note that store sales direct conversion actions can’t be used for bidding, even if used in a custom goal.

This article defines primary and secondary conversion actions and how to use them.

Example

You may have a standard goal called “purchases” that's applied by default to campaigns in your account. Within your “purchases” goal you may have two conversion actions: a “subscription” conversion action that you’ve marked as primary and a “one-time purchase” conversion action that you’ve marked as secondary. The primary action will be reported in the “Conversions” column and used for bidding in all campaigns that use your “purchases” goal whereas the secondary action will be used for observation only.

If you decide to create a custom goal and add your “one-time purchase” conversion action to it, then the “one-time purchase” action will automatically be used for reporting and bidding in any campaign that uses your custom goal, even though it's marked as secondary. 

Note

Conversion actions included in a custom goal are used for reporting and bidding regardless of whether they’re set as “primary” or “secondary” actions. There can be exceptions to this such as the store sales direct conversion action, which can’t be used for bidding, even if used in a custom goal.

How to update the primary and secondary setting for a conversion action

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account.
  2. Click the tools icon Google Ads | tools [Icon].
  3. Click Conversions.
  4. Find the goal that includes the conversion action you’d like to edit.
  5. Click Edit goal.
  6. Next to the conversion action that you’d like to update click the drop-down and select either Primary or Secondary.
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