Add Traffic Source to Channel Grouping in Google Analytics

I’m in the process of creating a handful of custom dashboards in Google Analytics to highlight data that matters to me for State Supply. Channel Groupings are an important dimension that I track in Google Analytics. Specifically, I am interested in the number of sessions by channel, the average session duration by channel and the average page views per session by channel.

State Supply drives a decent amount of traffic from the repair videos we post to YouTube. While traffic to from YouTube does not mint money for the company, the engagement metrics are incredible. A user who comes to from YouTube has an average session duration that is 5x higher than any other traffic source. The problem is that I was not seeing those numbers reflected in our Social channel grouping. So, the information on my aforementioned custom dashboards was wrong for the channel groupings metrics.

After doing a bit of research I came upon documentation on how Google segments traffic sources in to channel groupings. Eureka! The problem was that when building tracking URL’s, I was giving all YouTube videos a Campaign Medium of “video”, ie: utm_medium=video. This seemed logical to me, as the users visiting through a YouTube were acquired by a video. Alas, per the documentation, the Social channel in Google Analytics does not consider a campaign medium of “video” to be within the social context (which is also logical).

So, there were two apparent ways to solve my Google Analytics conundrum.

  1. Change all links from utm_medium=video to utm_medium=social
  2. Update the Channel Settings for the Google Analytics View.

Option 1 felt wrong. Even though I wanted to see the data for YouTube in the Social channel grouping, the medium in which the content is delivered is still video. In addition, it would be a lot of work to update the campaign medium for the dozens of links current tagged utm_medium=video. So, option 2 was the clear winner for me.

Updating the rules that govern channel groupings in Google Analytics is simple.

  1. Login to Google Analytics and go to the Admin Section.

  2. Go to the specific View that you need to update channel settings for and click Channel Grouping.

    Screenshot of Google Analytics admin
    Channel Settings
  3. Within the View’s channel settings, click Default Channel Grouping.

    Screenshot of Google Analytics channel grouping list
    Channel Grouping List
  4. Within the Default Channel Grouping settings, add the proper rule to the Social channel grouping.

    Screenshot of Google Analytics channel grouping rules
    Channel Grouping Rules

FWIW, I realize the “Add Traffic Medium to Channel Grouping in Google Analytics” would be a more appropriate title for this post as source != medium. But I am weird and my brain is on vacation today.

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