The latest news and our thoughts on the ever changing world of analytics, ppc and digital strategy.

Why Change the Default Channel Groupings in Google Analytics?

If you log into your analytics account and go to the Acquisition / Channels report you'll find a breakdown of traffic to your site by the channel used to find you.

By default Google Analytics uses the following channels:

  • Direct
  • Organic Search
  • Social
  • Email
  • Referral
  • Paid Search
  • Other Advertising
  • Display

For many organisations the above channel definitions are more than adequate. However depending on your digital marketing strategy changes can sometimes make sense.

Take for example a case where you're investing heavily in PPC. It's likely that a well constructed PPC campaign will implement a number of different strategies from bidding on branded terms through to different categories of products, services or information. In such a case breaking down the "Paid Search" channel into "PPC - Branded", "PPC - Services" or "PPC - Resources" could prove very helpful in adding insight into how different PPC strategies are performing (rather than simply having all data lumped together as "paid search").

Other examples could include breaking down "social" into e.g. "Facebook" and "Twitter" or amending "email" to reflect different types of email marketing strategy (e.g. newsletters versus promotions). In most cases it probably only makes sense to do so where a channel is of particular importance to your organisation and additional granularity adds value.

Changes to the default channel groupings are made at the "view" level. To amend select the view you'd like to adjust and click Admin. Under "Channel Settings" you'll see the "Channel Grouping" option.

Rather than changing the default channel groupings an alternative is to create a new set. This enables you to switch between different groupings where the default channel grouping is shown as a primary dimension. However, at the time of writing this article, the default channel groupings have the advantage of feeding through to the secondary dimensions tool and being available for use within dashboards etc.

Bear in mind that if you change the default channel grouping this will permanently change how traffic is categorised going forward - however historical data won't be affected. It can also take up to 24 hours for the new channels to start appearing within your reports. MCF Channel Groupings (used within the Multi Channel Funnels reports) need to be configured separately.

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