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Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnels: How to Use Channel Groupings in Google Analytics

The Multi-Channel Funnels (MCF) reports are generated from conversion paths, which contain the sequences of channels (recorded for each visit/session) that led up to each conversion. By default, only interactions within the last 30 days are included in conversion paths, but you can adjust this time period from 1 to 90 days at the top of each MCF report.

The channels or traffic sources are goruped together in Google Analytics (GA) under Channel Groupings. GA defines Channel Groupings as a rule-based groupings of traffic sources. Throughout GA reports, you can see your data organized according to the Default Channel Grouping, a grouping of the most common sources of traffic, like Organic Search, Social Network, Referral, etc.

If you want to label your traffic in other ways, you can:

Create Custom Channel Grouping (user level)
Admin > Custom Channel Grouping

Custom Channel Grouping is only visible to the user who created it.

Create new Channel Grouping (view level)
Admin > Channel Settings > Channel Grouping

New Channel Grouping is visible to all users with Read & Analyze or Edit permissions.

When you create either a Custom Channel Grouping at the user level or a new Channel Grouping in a view, you can immediately select it in reports as they only affect the display of data, not the data itself. This also means they can be applied to historical data.

Edit Default Channel Grouping (view level)
Admin > Channel Settings > Channel Grouping > Default Channel Grouping

Default Channel Grouping is also visible to all users with appropriate permissions. 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.

When you edit the Default Channel Grouping for a view, you permanently alter the raw data for new sessions and they are labelled according to your updated channel definitions. This historical data won't change.

Channel Groupings in MCF reports

The MCF 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.

Note that unlike Default Channel Grouping, the Default MCF Channel Grouping cannot be modified. And editing the Default Channel Grouping, will not automatically update the default MCF Channel Grouping. They're not the same.

In most cases (eg. when creating content-based channel grouping) creating either a new Channel Grouping or Custom Channel Grouping is recommended. But there are cases that you'd want to edit the default channel grouping.

When to modify the Default Channel Groupings?

You'd rarely need to modify the default channel grouping in GA. One of those rare cases is when you want to exclude your own subdomains (such as go.momently.com for us) from referral traffic and group them under a custom channel.

While the referral channel is the most likely culprit of bad information, you should also not neglect your other channels, such as Email and Social, which frequently contain noise or are missing information. It’s worth the exercise of looking through each one to find erroneous instances and taking the time to set up rules to prevent them from reoccurring.

Under Admin > Channel Settings > Channel Grouping > Default Channel Grouping, we are going to first modify the Referral Channel to exclude any traffic from Momently subdomains. Then we're going to define a new channel to label the excluded traffic:

Modify Referral Channel


Add New Momently Channel


The order of the list of channels in a channel grouping matters. Any channels that aren't included in the first rule (i.e. the first label) fall through to the second rule, if there is one and so on. Any channels that remain after applying all the rules will be included in the fallback label "other".

As a general rule, you want to put your more specific channels at the top of the stack. Google routes sessions into the first bucket that resolves to True.

To learn more on how to use channel groupings in GA to find your content ROI read this post:

How to Measure Content Marketing ROI with Google Analytics


Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnels: How to Use Channel Groupings in Google Analytics

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