How to Fix (Other) Traffic Channel in Google Analytics
See how to fix your (Other) traffic channel from Google Analytics in minutes. No technical assistance required.
The marketer in us shed a tear when we see the dreaded (Other) traffic sitting at or near the top of our acquisition reports in Google Analytics.
How the heck can you make any decisions based on that channel?!
What is the (Other) channel in Google Analytics?
Simply put, the (Other) traffic channel in Google Analytics is web traffic that has an acquisition source or medium that is not recognized within Google’s default system defined channel rules like “Email” or “Social”.
Seeing traffic bucketed into the (Other) channel is quite common when you have multiple people/teams that are defining their own utm parameters within marketing campaigns. Especially when this is managed without a process on how to name your utm_source, utm_medium, utm_campaign names.
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How to fix the (Other) channel in Google Analytics?
The acquisition sources that are bucketed under the (Other) channel grouping need to be added to existing or new channel groupings in your view settings. This update is not retroactive and will only work for future traffic.
Here are the steps to take:
1. Identify the sources that need to be updated
Inside of Google Analytics > Acquisition > Channels, click on the (Other) traffic channel shown like this:
This will then bring you to a screen that defaults to showing the traffic sources. You might want to add a secondary dimension of medium like I’ve shown below:
2. Determine what channels these sources belong to
Ok you now have your list of offending traffic sources. As you can see many of these are legit traffic sources without a channel home! From here what I usually do is go through all of the source and medium rows with > 5 or so users and then determine where these belong.
- yahoo (row 1) – I think this belongs in Display
- purewow (row 2) – this is also Display
- social instagram (row 8) – well this is Social or Paid Social
You get the idea.
You might want to create a custom channel grouping that doesn’t already exist. For example if you’re paying for Influencer marketing then you might want to create a new channel (shown in step 4) and create rules to have your Influencer links fall under this channel.
3. Modify channel grouping rules within Google Analytics
This step will require you to go to Google Analytics > Admin > View Settings > Select your view that this (Other) traffic lives in:
Once you’re here then it’s time to:
- Update existing channel gropings (like social)
- Or create new channel grouping rules (like influencer)
Lets pretend the social / instagram example shown in row 8 above needs to be bucked under the existing “Social” channel. I’m going to simply click into social channel and add an “or” condition so we end up with:
Map all traffic to the social channel if Google defaults it as a system defined channel source of Social OR if the medium exactly matches “instagram”
Once I click Done and save then this rule is updated and I’ve made a dent in my (Other) traffic!
Now you might be asking yourself why Google isn’t smart enough to put instagram traffic into Social? Well – Google is – except in this case the traffic has custom utm parameters where source is social and medium is instagram. This is not normal.
Typically the source is instagram.com (or similar) and medium is social. In my opinion, Google minimizes the assumptions it’s making in bucketing your traffic especially if it has custom utm parameters. This is a good thing.
4. Add new channel grouping rules within Google Analytics
This is similar to our last step except we’re defining our own channel all together. I’ll use a Paid Social example since this traffic should be viewed separately from organic social traffic. The same process can be applied using the Influencer channel discussed in step 2 above.
Click on “Define New Channel” at the top of the page and then create something like this:
What I’ve done here is:
- Created an “OR” condition for my social sources with a regex rule of facebook|instagram (the pipe acts as an or condition in the regex)
- Created an “AND” condition for my medium that contains utm_medium parameters used in campaign tagging
The reason for this setup is so the only social traffic that will match this grouping is traffic meets both conditions. i.e. organic social traffic won’t match this rule and will fall into the bucket # 5 below.
That’s it! Once you save your changes then you should see these start to update within 24 hours in your channel acquisition reports.
If you’re unsure on how this works then I suggest setting up on a test view first to minimize messing around in production data 🙂
Wrapping Up / Warnings
Fair warning: in rare circumstances after I’ve made large changes to these grouping settings I have seen revenue data disappear in Google Analytics for the rest of the day. Unexpectedly, of course.
It’s scary and you’ll immediately break out in sweat thinking you broke something 🙂 ! But this is temporary and GA will reset itself and your historical data will still be in place.
While (Other) traffic can be confusing and frustrating, it only takes a few minutes to make changes and clean up those fancy acquisition reports.
If you’re in need of a more robust Google Analytics audit then give us a shout!
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