Channel Grouping (Other) and how to fix it in Google Analytics

Written by Joanne Kearney

Joanne has over 10 years’ experience working in digital analytics, executing and managing many large scale projects across the UK and Ireland. Joanne is also an experienced trainer, having developed many customised corporate training schemes and regularly speaks at digital and analytics events.
November 9, 2021

Have you ever had a look at your Acquisition > Default Channel Grouping report and noticed a channel group you don’t recognise called (Other)? Don’t worry- you’re not alone. Most Google Analytics account owners will experience this at some point!

Each channel group is built on rules, then each rule groups your traffic source and mediums together into a defined channel. Every channel in Google Analytics will have a Source and Medium behind it and the Default Channel Groups are those groups that Google have defined using their own rules. When in the Default Channel Grouping report, you can use the SECONDARY DIMENSION option at the top of the table to view the raw source and medium behind each channel.

Google Analytics will automatically group some of the most common sources of traffic into a channel e.g. Organic Search will always have the medium = organic + source = popular search engine, while other source/mediums might not fall into the ‘default’ channel group rules set by Google Analytics and are therefore segmented into ‘Other’.

This means that you might find you have a lot of traffic classified as ‘Other’ when ideally, you’d prefer it categorised instead into a Search/Social/Email/Display channel. Take for example, the 3 lines below within our own account, showing traffic from LinkedIn and Twitter that we’d categorise as ‘Social’ traffic instead of ‘Other’:

To create a new rule and force Google Analytics to recategorise this traffic we have to go back to our Google Analytics settings page (click the ADMIN option on the bottom left-hand corner of the page) and select CHANNEL GROUPINGS from the menu:

Then, select the Default Channel Grouping channel and clicks Actions to edit:

When there, you’ll see all the system defined channels – all the channels that Google Analytics have pre-defined:

Going back to our original example, we want to EDIT the social channel (by clicking the pencil) to include our 3 lines of traffic of social traffic that we know is currently coming in under ‘Other’. When we click to edit the social channel we can see there is currently just one rule for our social traffic that is system defined:

We can include the other 3 types of traffic here by first looking back to see what the source and mediums were:

Knowing this, we can then create an OR match and then select: Dimension: Source/Medium Rule: exactly matches …and include the exact source and mediums that we want to recategorise (listed above). If you click on the box, this should bring up the source and mediums that are currently categorised under ‘Other’ that you’d like instead to be categorised under ‘Social’:

If your option does not appear on the list then you can filter the list to make it more specific by starting to type the source and medium you wish to use:

Make sure that if you are using ‘exactly matches’ that you type the exact-matching source and medium and choose OR between each combination so Google Analytics will know to include each separate combination of source and medium within the one channel.

You can also use other matching types if you have a multiple variations of source and mediums that you want to recategorise in one swoop:

That’s it! Once we save this, our channel groupings for the channel Social will now include the source and mediums defined going forward. Recategorisation of the default channel grouping does not apply to historical data. Our next blog will cover Custom Channel Groupings – building your own channel groupings that work in grouping traffic retrospectively.

 

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