Channel Grouping

Channel Grouping is used within Google Analytics and describes the grouping of different source channels for corresponding reports. The term "channel" refers to traffic from similar sources such as social media.

General information[edit]

There are different ways for a website to generate traffic, for example links from other websites, shares in social networks, emails or Google searches. For a website analysis, it is interesting to include the different channels, because it can for example be possible to establish a connection between traffic via Facebook or Twitter and other social networks. The different sources are thus analytically summarized.

Different channels are usually subject to different questions. With regard to acquisition, channels that are not used in funnel analyses may also be important. (Funnel analyses are defined as the analysis of the customer or user journey aimed at a specific conversion target, for example registration, subscription or purchase). Because campaigns are not always conducted using the same channels, Google Analytics allows you to create different channel groupings and define different report types. This means analyses can be easily repeated for similar questions.

Channel Grouping Data and User Interface[edit]

By default, Channel Grouping places all incoming ads in the predefined channels. Campaigns equipped with utm tags are fed into the channels created for this purpose. For example, the utm parameters "utm_source=facebook, utm_medium=socialmedia and utm_campaign=gewinnspiel_20150720" are assigned to a Facebook link. It is now possible to create a channel in the standard channel grouping especially for social media campaigns that works on the basis of utm parameters. The overall performance of these campaigns can therefore be viewed as a whole and in conjunction with the other channels.

Depending on the origin, Google not only arranges self-defined advertising media via utm parameters, but also sources without campaign parameters such as the channels direct, organic search or referral. These channels are called "system-defined" - they automatically arrange the sources into the corresponding channel. For example, "Google", "Yahoo" and "Bing" would be assigned to the channel "Organic Search" as sources.

The settings for the standard channel grouping can be found in Google Analytics. The following channels are defined under the menu items "Manage", "Data View", "Channel Settings" and "Channel Groupings":

  • Direct
  • Organic search
  • Referral
  • Email
  • Paid Search
  • Other advertising
  • Display Advertising

It is possible to extend or change definitions, but it would be recommended that you create a new channel grouping. The corresponding channels can be freely defined and named. Advertising media that have already been received can also be sorted retroactively in the course of the newly created channel grouping. If, on the other hand, the standard channel grouping is changed, the classification of the data in the new channels is not retroactive.

To change the definition of a channel in the channel settings, simply click on the edit icon.

Explanation of utm parameters The abbreviation utm stands for "Urchin Tracking Monitor". This name which was used before Google Analytics bought it. Usually utm parameters are mainly used for Adwords, but they are also worthwhile for other channels, such as Facebook ads, banners and social media channels.

There are a total of four parameters for each campaign, plus "utm-keyword", which is rarely used. To avoid errors, all parameters should always be written in lower case.

utm-source" indicates the source of the campaign. This is usually the name of the domain, for example "" when using a banner. If links of an advertising network are to be used, the domain of the network is used, for example Links used in mails are an exception. These are called the type of mail, e.g. "newsletter" for newsletters, "transactional" for transactional mails from a shop system.

The channel itself can change, for example a Facebook link in a posting can be "social", but if it belongs to an ad, it must be assigned to "banner".

To differentiate, it may make sense to use the "utm-content" parameter. Especially if there are different links that are the same but need to be distinguished from each other, this measure can provide a better overview. It is possible that a newsletter may contain several links to the start page, in the logo, within the text and at the end of the mail. Here the differentiation by the information "logo", "text" and "footer" helps. Alternatively, it is also possible to number the links.

A disadvantage of the procedure are the URLs are very long. A “URL Shortener” can be used to make the URLs significantly shorter and clearer. or the Google-URL-Shorter are recommended tools.

Significance for online marketing[edit]

Channel grouping in Google Analytics provides a good overview for identifying website visitor sources. Channel grouping in Google Analytics is a great tool for evaluation, planning and execution of measures.