About Channel Groupings

Learn how Analytics classifies your traffic.

Channel Groupings are rule-based groupings of your traffic sources. Throughout Analytics reports, you can see your data organized according to the Default Channel Grouping, a grouping of the most common sources of traffic, like Paid Search and Direct. This allows you to quickly check the performance of each of your traffic channels.

In this article:

Channel Groupings overview

The channels in the Default Channel Grouping meet the needs of most Analytics users, but if you have specific analysis requirements and want to label your traffic in other ways, you can:

  • Create a Custom Channel Grouping (user level).
  • Create a new Channel Grouping (view level).
  • Edit the Default Channel Grouping (view level).

When you create a Custom Channel Grouping at the user level or create a new Channel Grouping in a view, you:

  • Can immediately select it in reports.
  • Can apply it retroactively and see historical data classified by your new channel definitions.
  • Change how reports display your data, without changing the data itself.

When you edit the Default Channel Grouping for a view, you:

  • Permanently change the raw data for new sessions by altering how Analytics labels incoming traffic. All sessions that occur after you edit the Default Channel Grouping are labelled according to your updated channel definitions.
  • Can't apply your new channel definitions retroactively, so the historical Channel Grouping of traffic won't change.

Create a Custom Channel Grouping

A Custom Channel Grouping is only visible to the user who created it. To create a Custom Channel Grouping:

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics.
  2. Select the Admin tab and navigate to the view in which you want to create a Custom Channel Grouping.
  3. Under PERSONAL TOOLS & ASSETS, click Custom Channel Groupings.
  4. Click +New Channel Grouping.
  5. Enter a name for your new channel grouping.
  6. Click +Define a new channel.
  7. Enter a name for your new channel.
  8. Define the rules for the new channel.
    • From the first drop-down menu, select a dimension.
    • From the second drop-down menu, select an operator.
    • In the text field, enter the value you want to use. For example, Source contains plus.google.com.
    • Add AND and OR statements as necessary, then click Done.
  9. Add and define additional channels.
  10. Drag the channels to specify the order in which they should apply.
  11. Click the Save button.

You can create a maximum of 100 Custom Channel Groupings per user.

Create a new Channel Grouping for a view

You can create a new Channel Grouping for a view and immediately see it reflected in your reports.

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics.
  2. Select the Admin tab and navigate to the view in which you want to create a new Channel Grouping.
  3. Click Channel Settings.
  4. Click Channel Grouping.
  5. Click +New Channel Grouping.
  6. Enter a name for your new channel grouping.
  7. Click +Define a new channel.
  8. Enter a name for your new channel.
  9. Define the rules for the new channel.
    • From the first drop-down menu, select a dimension.
    • From the second drop-down menu, select an operator.
    • In the text field, enter the value you want to use. For example, Source contains plus.google.com.
    • Add AND and OR statements as necessary, then click Done.
  10. Add and define additional channels.
  11. Drag the channels to specify the order in which they should apply.
  12. Click Save.

You can see your new Channel Grouping in the Channels report by selecting from the Primary Dimension drop-down menu. In Multi-Channel Funnels reports, your new Channel Grouping is available in the Channel Groupings drop-down menu.

You can create a maximum of 50 new Channel Groupings per view.

Promote a Custom Channel Grouping to view level

If you have Edit access at the view level, you can promote one or more of your Custom Channel Groupings from the user level to the view level. Promoting a Custom Channel Grouping creates a copy of it at the view level, enabling:

  • Users with view level Read & Analyze permission or higher to see and use the promoted Channel Grouping.
  • Users with view level Edit permission to edit the view level configuration from Channel Settings > Channel Grouping.

You'll still retain control over your original user level Custom Channel Grouping. The promoted Channel Grouping counts toward the view's limit of 50 Channel Groupings.

Copy, share, or delete a Custom Channel Grouping

After you have created and saved a Custom Channel Grouping, you can copy, delete, or share it directly with others, or share it in the Solutions Gallery.

When you share a Custom Channel Grouping, only the configuration information is shared. Your data remains private. Learn more about sharing assets, including how to share many Custom Channel Groupings at the same time.

You can also delete or copy a Custom Channel Grouping. When you copy a Custom Grouping, you can use it as a foundation for creating another Custom Channel Grouping.

To copy, share, or delete a Custom Channel Grouping:

  1. Sign in to your Google Analytics Account.
  2. Select the Admin tab.
  3. Navigate to your desired view.
  4. In the View column, click Custom Channel Groupings.
  5. From the Actions drop-down menu, select Copy, Share, or Delete.

Edit the Default Channel Grouping

You can edit the Default Channel Grouping to define new channels, remove existing channels, and change channel definitions. You can't edit the system definition, but you can use different dimensions to redefine an existing channel.

Example
You can change the definition of the Social channel from "System Defined Channel exactly matches Social" to "Source contains plus.google.com|facebook.com."

Remember, any changes you make to a view's Default Channel Grouping:

  • Permanently change how Analytics classifies your traffic.
  • Are visible to all users of the view.
  • Are not applied retroactively, so the historical Channel Grouping of traffic won't change.

To edit the channel definitions:

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics.
  2. Select the Admin tab and navigate to the desired view.
  3. Click Channel Settings.
  4. Click Channel Grouping.
  5. Click Default Channel Grouping.
  6. To edit a channel, click the edit icon (pencil).
  7. Edit the rules for the channel.
    • From the first drop-down menu, select a dimension.
    • From the second drop-down menu, select an operator.
    • In the text field, enter the value you want to use. For example, Source contains plus.google.com.
    • Add AND and OR statements as necessary, then click Done.
  8. To add a new channel, click Define a new channel.
  9. To remove a channel, click the delete icon (X), then click Delete Rule in the pop-up.
  10. Click Save.

If you edit the default channel definitions, you can go back to the defaults by clicking Reset channels at the top of the list. This is not retroactive; any sessions that occurred before you reverted to the default channels will still be classified with your prior channel definitions.

Channel Groupings in Multi-Channel Funnels

The Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions and Top Conversion Paths reports use the Default MCF Channel Grouping by default. You can change the Primary Dimension to see your data ordered by the Default Channel Grouping. To see your data ordered by a Custom Channel Grouping or new view level Channel Grouping, select the name from the Channel Groupings drop-down menu.

Limits and caveats

Limits

Each user can create a maximum of 100 Custom Channel Groupings per view. Each view can contain a maximum of 50 Channel Groupings, not including the Default Channel Grouping.

Channel Grouping and view filters

Channel Grouping uses raw (unfiltered) dimension values to classify a session into a channel. This means that Channel Grouping ignores mutated or altered dimension values due to any view filters you may have.

Example
You use a Search and Replace filter to change a campaign name from Campaign A to Campaign B. If you include Campaign B in the definition for Channel X, any sessions resulting from clicks to Campaign A won't be grouped into Channel X.

Differences between Channels report and AdWords reports

AdWords dimension values at daily processing time are used to permanently determine the Channel Grouping for traffic. If these dimension values change (for example, a campaign is renamed in AdWords), the historical Channel Grouping of that traffic will not change. You may notice differences between your AdWords reports and Channels report because the AdWords section reports the current or "live" (at report load time) dimension values of AdWords traffic.

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