Creating custom segments to see how different traffic performs and observe trends (for better or worse!) is one of the most powerful uses for Google Analytics (GA). One class of segments that exist by default in GA are Channels. Channels are a grouping of common ways that people come to your site. GA automatically sorts the many ways you acquire a user - whether it’s social media, pay-per-click, email, or referral links - and bundles them into a bucket, or Channel.
Channels are simple, aggregate buckets of data. To sort your acquisitions into Channel buckets, Google sets distinct rules and definitions using specific parameters: a combination of acquisition Source (the origin of your traffic) and acquisition Medium (the general category of the source).
While having these buckets can help you make sense of where your traffic is coming from, this data isn’t actually tagged by channel but by a combination of Source and Medium. Because Google sends channel information as two separate data points, channel groupings don’t automatically show up in Magento BI.
By default, Google sets you up with 8 different channels. Let’s take a look at the rules that determine how they’re created:
|Channel||What is it?||How is it created?|
|Direct||Anyone who comes directly into your site.||Source = Direct
AND Medium = (not set);
OR Medium = (none)
|Organic Search||Traffic that has been organically ranked in unpaid search engines.||Medium = organic|
|Referral||Traffic that comes in from an external link that is not Organic Search or from websites that are not social networks.||Medium = referral|
|Paid Search||Traffic that has a UTM Tracking code where the medium is either “cpc”, “ppc”, or “paidsearch” AND is an ad distribution network that doesn’t match "Content.”||Medium = ^(cpc|ppc|paidsearch)$
AND Ad Distribution Network ≠ Content
|Social||Referral traffic that comes from any of approximately 400 social networks and are not tagged as ads.||Social Source referral = Yes
OR Medium = ^(social|social-network|social-media|sm|social network|social media)$
|Traffic from sessions that are tagged with a medium of “email.”||UTM Tracking code of Medium = email|
|Display||Traffic that has a UTM Tracking code where the medium is either display or cpm. Also includes AdWords interaction where the ad distribution network matches “Content”||Medium = ^(display|cpm|banner)$
OR Ad Distribution Network = Content
AND Ad Format ≠ Text
|Other||Sessions from other advertising channels, not including Paid Search, that are tagged with a medium of “cpc”, “ppc”, “cpm, “cpv”, “cpa”, “cpp”, “affiliate”.||Medium = ^(cpv|cpa|cpp|content-text)$|
Now that you know channels are just combinations of sources and mediums, it’s an easy 3-step process to recreate these groupings in your Data Warehouse.
Congratulations! Now you have Google Analytics Channel groupings in your Data Warehouse, which means you can analyze your data from a new perspective:
In this example, we started simple - segmenting the Number of Orders metric by Channel. Now it's your turn - go test out your new column and see what trends you can identify in your GA channel data!