Analytics

How to Use Channel Groupings in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

GA4’s Channel Grouping is not as flexible as Universal Analytics. Learn how to map your traffic to the correct channel in GA4.

How to Use Channel Groupings in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

Jerica Krakowski

Technical Product Manager @ Elevar

Channel Groupings give you a high-level overview of what marketing channels are driving revenue.

With Universal Analytics, you could customize your Channel Groupings to match your UTM structure. GA4 is not as flexible. You’ll need to customize your UTM structure to match the Channel Grouping.

Once you’ve mapped your UTM structure to GA4’s Channel Rules, you’ll be able to analyze your traffic channels & performance.

(if you have not yet setup GA4, learn how to setup GA4 on Shopify in our related guide)

How to Access GA4’s Channel Grouping

Step 1: Log into your Google Analytics 4 Property

Step 2: Navigate to Reports

Step 3: Select Acquisition > Traffic Acquisition

Step 4: Ensure that the primary dimension selected is Session default channel grouping

And now you’ll be able to view your traffic per Channel Grouping!

 

Limitations of GA4’s Channel Grouping

Google Analytics 4’s Channel Grouping is not as flexible as Universal Analytics is. Some key limitations are:

  • You cannot create a Custom Channel Grouping in GA4.
  • You cannot add new channels to the Default Channel Grouping in GA4.
  • You cannot edit the rules for the Default Channel Grouping in GA4.

 

Map the Correct Traffic to the Correct GA4 Channel Grouping

Since you cannot edit GA4’s Default Channel Grouping rules or create a new Custom Channel Grouping with your own rules, you must tag your landing page URLs to match GA4’s default channel group definitions.

Below are the GA4 channel definitions that your UTM structures must match (or should avoid):

 

Direct

Source exactly matches direct
AND
Medium exactly matches (not set)
OR
Medium exactly matches (none)

 

Organic Search

Medium exactly matches organic

 

Paid Search

Medium matches regex ^(cpc|ppc|paidsearch)$
AND
Ad Network does not exactly match DISPLAY
OR
Ad Network exactly matches PAID_SEARCH

 

Organic Social

Source matches regex Google’s internal list of social sites
OR
Medium matches regex ^(social|social-network|social-media|sm|social network|social media)$

 

Paid Social

Source matches regex Google’s internal list of social sites
AND
Medium matches regex ^(cpc|ppc|paid)$

 

Email

Medium = email|e-mail|e_mail|e mail
OR
Source = email|e-mail|e_mail|e mail

 

Affiliates

Medium = affiliate|affiliates

 

Referral

Medium exactly matches referral

 

SMS

Medium exactly matches sms

 

Not seeing your Channel in the above list?

See Google’s full list of GA4 Default Channel Definitions.

 

Note: Case Sensitivity

GA4 ignores case sensitivity in your UTM Parameters. For example:
?utm_medium=email
?utm_medium=Email

Both would be counted under the ‘Email’ Default Channel Group in GA4.

 

Help! My UTM Tagging Has Been Incorrect for Months!

Unfortunately, one area where GA4 and Universal Analytics align is: you can’t edit historical Google Analytics data. So if your tagging has been setup incorrectly & you’ve been sending traffic data to GA4 that’s funneled into the wrong Channel Grouping, there is no way to fix it in GA4.

What you can do is send your GA4 data to BigQuery. There, you can create new channel grouping rules for your data to adhere to.

 

Don’t have a GA4 account yet? Here’s How To Launch Google Analytics 4 (GA4) On Shopify in Minutes!

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