Enhanced Channel Groupings in Google Analytics

In this video Gravitate digital strategist Steven walks through Enhanced Channel Groupings in Google Analytics and how to set them up for improved tracking.

Your data is wrong.*

*Okay, your data is probably wrong… but by the end of this post, we hope you roll into your next marketing meeting with the confidence of Ron Swanson.


Real talk.

Have you ever looked at your channel report in Google Analytics and noticed that you have a great deal of traffic coming in through direct but not the other channels? Or perhaps you are running Facebook ads but are not seeing any traffic coming through a paid social channel?


There are several challenges with the default settings Google provides in Google Analytics, out of the box traffic is sorted in general buckets that aren’t always helpful for making informed marketing decisions.

Breaking out channel groupings (also known as creating Enhanced channel groupings) is helpful for several reasons, the main one being deeper segmentation of your data. With deeper segmentation, you can directly attribute goals, clearly see where traffic is moving, and assign value where value is due.

Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to update channel grouping settings and properly assign channels in Google Analytics if you have some experience under your belt. If you are new to UTM parameters and channel groupings in general, we recommend checking out the following posts before moving on.


None of what we are about to discuss below matters if you’re not using UTM parameters in your marketing URLs. It’s pretty straight-forward and amazing once you get your sources/mediums mapped out. You can view and make a copy of our UTM Builder. You’re welcome!

Here’s how you get started with custom channel grouping in analytics

Login to your Google Analytics account and navigate to “Admin”. Done? Ta-Da! Step one complete.

Now for the trickier stuff. There are two different ways to set up Enhanced Channel Grouping. First, under Channel Settings there is a drop-down option for Channel Grouping. Second, under Personal Tools and Assets, there is a new Beta option Custom Channel Grouping

Essentially both of these options do the same thing. The difference comes down to access. Channel Grouping under Channel settings is controlled at a view level and not the individual user level. In other words, they are accessible to any user that has access to that particular view. Custom Channel Grouping under Personal Tools and Assets is only visible to the user who sets up the channel grouping. Both do the same thing, one is more public-facing and the other provides a more personal view.

PRO TIP: We recommend using the setting at the Channel view level, as then you are safe if you ever lose your login info to the particular view you set up your enhanced channel groupings.

After you click into Custom channel grouping click “+New Channel Grouping”, you will then see the default defined channels Google has set in place.

There are a couple of opportunities to break up the channel groupings, for example…

Organic Search vs. Local Search

One of the main opportunities for brick and mortar businesses is to break up organic search from local search. To do this, all you need to do is define rules within “Local Search” to contain “local” by setting medium to contain local.
png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAAGQAAAABCAQAAACC0sM2AAAADElEQVR42mNkGCYAAAGSAAIVQ4IOAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC And then defining rules within “Organic Search” to not contain “local”.


Paid Search vs. Paid Social

The other option is to break up Paid Search and Paid Social you can do this by using the same method of defining the medium of paid social as “paidsocial” and excluding “paidsocial” from Paid Search definition.


Non-Brand vs. Brand

Another option is to add another layer of segmentation including brand vs. excluding brand traffic. To do this you just need to add another definition rule upon Organic Non-Branded to exclude your brand as a keyword.


Then for Branded traffic define the rules to include your brand as a keyword.


PRO TIP: If you have a variance of your brand name or different lines/products for your brand. Then you can use the below setting “manage brand terms” to paste in all of the branded terms you want to include or exclude.

Wrapping it all up

Will I have to do this for each of my analytics properties?

Not really! You can actually share the same Enhanced Channel Grouping with other views. Just click Actions > Share > Share Template Link. Keep in mind that every website may vary slightly in sources/channels so ensure you are making tweaks to your channel groupings as needed.


How do I actually see my custom channels?

Anywhere you see “Default Channel Grouping” there will be a drop-down and your enhanced channel groupings will be shown below. Then when you click on one of those groupings you will see your dashboard change and show the enhanced channel groupings that you created.


Is this going to be retroactive or only for future traffic?

Retroactive! As long as you have been using UTM parameters in the past, the channel groupings will be retroactive to the filters you have set up in your channels. If you are just starting with your UTM tracking initiatives, you’ll only see the custom channels from here on out.

Happy channel grouping!

With this quick tutorial and tips, we hope that you can better group your channels and make better data-driven marketing decisions now that you have the ability to do more detailed analysis of the channel traffic you are receiving every day.