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Replicating Google Analytics channels using acquisition sources



What are Channels?

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.

Why don’t I see my channels in Magento BI?

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.

What are the default channel groupings? How are they created?

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)$
Email 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)$

How can I recreate these channel groupings in my Data Warehouse?

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.

  1. Enable your Google ECommerce integration
    Once enabled, make sure to sync the medium and source fields in your Data Warehouse. After this is completed, medium and source acquisition data will be brought into your Data Warehouse.
  2. Upload a mapping of Google’s channel groupings
    Lucky you - we’ve already created a handy table that has the default groupings mapped! To download it, click the link in the Attachments section at the end of this article.

    If you’re a GA pro and created your own channels, you’ll want to add your specific rules to the mapping table before uploading the file into Magento BI.

    Bring it into your Data Warehouse as a File Upload: make sure to set both Medium and Source as Primary Keys, and ensure that both Medium and Source are never null in your CSV file:

  3. Establish a relationship between Google ECommerce and Mappings File Upload
    To establish a relationship between the Google ECommerce and the mapping table, submit a support request to our Data Analyst team and reference this article. The analyst will create a new calculated column called Channel in the ECommerce table. After a full update cycle, this column will be ready to use in a Filter or Group by.

Congratulations! Now you have Google Analytics Channel groupings in your Data Warehouse, which means you can analyze your data from a new perspective:

Segmenting the Number of Orders metric by Channel
Click for a closer look!

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!


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  • Avatar
    Nino Palermo


    are you guys going to be able to sync with Google Analytics the data of "Attribution Channels" in order to analyse in RJMetrics the multi-attribution data?



  • Avatar
    Erin Cochran

    Hi Nino,

    Our current plans for the CloudBI Google Analytics integration include adding the ability to pull in your channel groupings. Multi-attribution data may come in a later release. Thanks for your comment! Questions and feedback help us plan and prioritize new features.



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