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So What? Social Media Advertising and Attribution

So What? Marketing Analytics and Insights Live

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In this week’s episode of So What? we focus on Social Media Advertising and Attribution. We walk through out-of-the-box attribution models in GA4 and which ones are best for your social media advertising. Catch the replay here:

So What? Social Media Advertising and Attribution

In this episode you’ll learn: 

  • which attribution model to use for your marketing
  • the importance of UTM codes in your campaigns
  • how to take action with the analysis

Upcoming Episodes:

  • Pivoting your agency to GA4 4/21/2022


Have a question or topic you’d like to see us cover? Reach out here:


AI-Generated Transcript:

Katie Robbert 0:26
Well, hey there, everyone, Happy Thursday. Welcome to so work the marketing analytics and insights live. So I’m Katie joined by Chris and John. juggle them around. In this, in this week’s episode, we’re covering social media advertising and attribution. So for the past few weeks, we’ve been talking a lot about Google Analytics 4, and the Google Marketing Platform and all of the changes that are going to be coming and happening and that are already happening. And so what we wanted to focus on this week is specifically social media advertising, and attribution, with a little bit of a focus on Google Analytics 4. Because that’s where a lot of people turn to together attribution models. If you’re looking for those past episodes that we’ve recently done, you can find them on our YouTube channel at Trust Insights, or AI slash YouTube. So Chris, social media advertising and attribution. Where would you like to start this week?

Christopher Penn 1:28
I sat in this week on a friend’s private Facebook group. They did a training on Google Analytics, 4 Social media advertisers. And what struck me was these folks are all you know, professionals. They’re all mid career, I would say none of them, you know, like, the stereotypical social media intern and whatever. And they were just so incredibly resistant to using Google Analytics 4 period. The host did a credible job of covering the bare basics. And that said, something which made me grind my teeth, which was a Google Analytics 4 is basically the same as Google Analytics 3. So you don’t need to use it like well, that big blue banner at the top of Google Analytics 4, it says your data will stop working on July 1 2023. Kind of is negates that statement. And so before we dig in, Katie, I want to ask you, what, what can we do from a change management perspective, even as individuals, like what’s stopping you? Or me from just saying, Okay, from this day forward, I’m using GA for I’m gonna pretend, gee, if he’s not even there anymore?

Katie Robbert 2:40
I think the big thing is that historical data, and so having that baseline of, well, what happened? What have we already done? You know, I think what, and we’ve talked about this, in different episodes and podcast is, a lot of companies spend a lot of time only focusing on what happened, because it’s the only thing that they really understand and know how to do. And so if we suddenly decide to switch gears and move from one system to another, then there’s a whole learning curve, there’s no, there’s no notion of what happened historically. So we’re starting net new, which in some ways can be really good to have that clean slate. But not everybody is comfortable with that, like, we could probably manage with that. But we have the benefit of being such a small company that we really know, every moving piece at any given moment. Whereas a large enterprise sized company, they’re still scrambling to figure out what happened at the end of last year, and we’re already you know, halfway through April of the following year. So in my opinion, from a change management perspective, that’s the big thing, holding people back from flipping that switch is, it’s a whole new skill set. It’s a whole new set of data. We know enough to know it’s not apples to apples. And so there’s a lot of that fear and insecurity involved, because there’s still a lack of confidence with the data that exists. So what’s going to make this new set of data better?

Christopher Penn 4:11
Okay, so the thing that I say the thing that really struck me was that statement that it’s basically the same thing, and in some ways that is correct, in some ways, it’s not. So let’s talk through that. To make Google Analytics 4 work for your social media advertising, you’re going to need a couple things. First, you need to have a conversion of some kind setup. And again, if you are looking for help with that as a basic, we are the entire 15 minute tutorial on our YouTube channel, on how to set up a GA for goal, right with all the different options. So please go watch that because you need to have conversions. If they’re not set up. You can’t do any of this. So that would be part I think, part one. And the second thing and this is not clear. Friends with GA four, you need to have source medium and campaign tags on your URLs using organic, social paid social, you name it anything that’s sending traffic to your website, you have to be using UTM tags. Google Analytics 4 has a an entire sort of hierarchy of how it attempts to guess what a source of meaning and a channel that a piece of traffic is coming from. But you don’t want Google guessing Google’s okay at guessing and GTA four is actually substantially more sophisticated than GTA three in terms of being able to guess and guess, moderately well. But at the end of the day, if you have the opportunity to specify these are our sources and mediums, that is the way to go. And the thing to do with that is to have some kind of, of tracking, you know, a basic spreadsheet that says, on Facebook, these are going to be our Facebook paid URLs, these are going to be our LinkedIn, ad URLs, you name it, whatever the tracking mechanism that users paid services, you can gauge, you’ve got to use his tracking codes. One thing that we’ve done recently, we started posting our, our company newsletter on LinkedIn. And so we’ve had to make separate tracking codes just for that so that we can differentiate what’s our regular email newsletter? And what’s our LinkedIn newsletter? And if you do that, then things work really well. If things if you don’t do that, then you end up with a lot of mixed up conflated data and the nobody’s happy.

Katie Robbert 6:39
Yeah. So that’s, I mean, that’s that’s the challenge as well is that I think that attribution in general mixed up conflated data, you know, all those things that you were just talking about, that’s also a real concern.

Christopher Penn 6:55
Exactly. So let’s go ahead into Google Analytics 4, and say, Where would we even find this stuff? Well, the first place that you will want to go is you’re going to want to go to your configuration, you’re gonna go look at your events. And you’re going to make sure that the events that are important to you are marked as conversions, like our thank you pages, or we’ve gotten new users. Whatever your your goals are, this is where they have to be set. So you want to check the events list first, to make sure that you’re even getting the correct data. And then you can look at your conversions to see Okay, which of these things are conversions, so we have new user booked a call, any thank you page, first visit, all these things would be the different conversions that we want to check. If you’re doing social media advertising campaigns, you’re gonna want to have an event name and event vision for those ads. So they have to be doing something right. They have to be purchasing something or filling out a form or booking a call it is scheduling a demo. And it’s got to be in here. If it’s not in here. You can’t go any further. And I’d actually say if you’re, if you’re watching this on replay, pause it and go go fix that.

Katie Robbert 8:09
What if What if the goal of the ads is just to drive awareness, stress just to drive people to your site, do you still need an event setup.

Christopher Penn 8:18
If this drive people to your site, then you can use one of the built in events like first visit or you know new user as a way to to measure that. The other thing I would think I think would be worth doing and it would require some fancy dancing to do it. But you could create a conversion particularly for something like search where you’d have a new user from search as a as a conversion. That way you could limit the scope of those new users to Hey, these are the people who are finding us somehow by searching for us. So with that, we’re going to assume that you have your conversion, the next place you’re going to want to go to do this attribution is the advertising tab. And the advertising tab is a bit of a misnomer. It’s really the attribution software that’s built into GA for but Google and its attempts to get everyone to use a Google Ads has named as such. And what we see here in the snapshot is, you know, pretty straightforward stuff where we want to spend our time is in conversion paths. So conversion paths, the first thing you would do is you would select the conversion event that you’re trying to analyze. In this case, I’m doing form fills for the Trust Insights website. But we could do any of these other things. As long as they are all valid conversions. For the timeframe. The question you have to figure out for yourself is, how would it How long does it take somebody to convert? So what’s your sales cycle typically, or at least? What’s your your MQL generation cycle if you are a B2B company? I’ve gotten back to the beginning of March here. but you can stretch that time window view. As far back as you have data. The first thing we’re going to look at is the conversion models available to you, you have data driven last click first click linear position based time decay, and adds preferred last click this one here, the data driven is Google’s referred default model. And Google does a, I would say, incredibly poor job of explaining what that model does, or how it works, or Well, I mean, anything. Anyone want to hazard a guess as to how this all works?

Katie Robbert 10:41
Well, did they, they didn’t have the data driven model option. in Universal Analytics. I think the preferred model in universal was time decay, since it most closely mirrored sort of like the human interaction throughout like the different digital channels. You know, the one thing I do know is that the icons next to the title usually give away a little bit of what the model is supposed to do. But this one to me looks sort of like a blend between first loss and time decay. So I’m not really sure.

John Wall 11:21
Yeah, is it just statistic relevant, so they just do in a normal bell curve? No,

Christopher Penn 11:29
although you would think so that what they’re doing is math, a lot of math. The model that it that Google Analytics 4 uses is something called Time to event data driven attribution. And without digging into the mathematics, because nobody wants to watch that for our essentially, let’s see, if we make this little bit bigger here, zoom in. This is the way the model works. You have things happening over time, and then you get a visit, and you and you assign a certain amount of credit to that. And then as time goes by, that loses, that decays, that credit starts to decay. And then another thing happens in that campaign, and then we get some more credit, and so on, and so forth. And so what they’re they start doing is with all the different sources and mediums all the different channels in play, they’re building this really, really, really large machine learning model that says, how much of this conversion can be attributed to activity over time from all the different channels. I’m not going to go into the math, because I barely understand it on a good day. But essentially, it’s similar to the models that we’ve used in the past, like Markov chain modeling. But this one focuses on adding a different measure of time decay. When you do something like Markov chain modeling, you assume that the time between steps is roughly equal. So from a webinar to an email to a tweet, and so on and so forth, you assume that these phase transitions all are essentially equal. With time decay, you’re looking at the actual timestamps. So there may be, you know, a two day gap between when that person went to the webinar, and then when they open an email, but there may be an eight day gap between the email and a tweet. And so you would say, well, that email should get less credit, because it took longer for the person to come back than it did from the webinar, to the email. And so that’s what this model is trying to build. Now. What that means is that in Google Analytics 4, it really rolls up all that math into just this very nice simple bar chart, which says, this channel, in this cross Shala data is remote. This channel has done the most to help you convert fall by direct organic social referral, organic search, etc. And if we had paid search, paid social near which we didn’t, for this, this data that would be in here, if that’s not clear enough, you can break into by source medium or campaign so you can see those same things. So if I switch into campaign mode here, I see direct, I see almost timely referral, and so on and so forth.

Katie Robbert 14:33
So, you know, it’s interesting. So there’s a couple of things. One is we can cover UTM codes, which I believe that’s on the agenda for today. But in terms of the the model when I talk with other marketers, when I talk with people who were in advertised social media advertising and other different skill sets, a lot of times they say, Well, you know, my default is the last time model because it’s the easiest to understand, it’s the easiest to see, you know, the results. And it sounds like Google also defaults to the ads preferred last touch model, because it’s the one that’s going to give the most credit to their apps to Google Apps. And so the same is true for social advertising. And so, you know, I think that having an understanding of how the different attribution models work is good. But also understanding the right model for your organization is even more important, because if you have an agency come in, and they’re like, yeah, we’re just gonna use last touch is always going to make them look best. And but it may not be the most representative. So it sounds like people using Google Analytics 4 who want to use the out of the box attribution modeling, should be looking at the data driven model to get the most. I guess the word fair, the most representative picture of how the data is coming in.

Christopher Penn 16:05
It’s the it’s the model that I think, to Google’s credit, he represents, I think, a reasonable view of reality, right? Because time does matter. You know, staying present in mind, you know, we do a weekly live stream to to stay relevant people’s brains, we have a weekly newsletter, at many of the companies we’ve all worked out in the past, they do, you know, monthly or quarterly newsletters, but one of the things that we learned very, very early on in email marketing is that ad sales, the more at bats you have, the better off you’re going to do, right. So if you have a quarterly newsletter, you have four chances a year to convert somebody by email, if you have weekly newsletter, you have 52 chances to stay in front of somebody and remind them that you still exist. And so the Google model, this model here for a time decay, event driven model makes logical sense in that, and if you’re you, if you are doing advertising, social media ads, in particular, this model makes a lot of sense. Because you are doing ads that are doing double duty, right, you’re even if you’re doing conversion based advertising, and you you’re on Facebook, or LinkedIn or whatever, you are still also staying in front of your audience’s eyeballs. And having this kind of, you know, conversion decay model makes good sense for trying to figure out what are the impacts of the different ads, and which ad Shanell keeps us keep refreshing our share of mind, really, when you think about a time decay model like this one, which is event driven, you’re thinking this is in a way a proxy for awareness. Right? If we keep running ads, and I keep showing you new ad F new ad, and you keep engaging and stuff, and you eventually convert, I want to know, are my ads continuing to nudge you along? Right? Or do they stall out? You stop thinking about it, just like I have a podcast, I want to make sure that you’re listening every week. And if there’s some shows that do less well than others, you know, okay, that show would have a lower conversion intensity, it didn’t do as well. And so for this really helps us as marketers, particularly advertisers, because it helps you understand, like this ad didn’t land, right, this campaign did not land, it did not move people forward, let’s pull and maybe not do that again.

Katie Robbert 18:34
So it goes back to I guess my original question of what if the purpose of the ads is to drive awareness, as long as awareness is an event in, you know, if New Year’s is for the website, you know, whatever the thing is, is an event, then you can run an attribution model against the events in Google Analytics 4. Which is exactly right. Very much like a goal.

Christopher Penn 19:02
Exactly. In fact, I’m gonna switch us to first visit, what got somebody to make their first visit. And then let’s see, switch this from a to default channel grouping here. Right, and so for our default channel grouping for our first event, in that data driven model, it is email search social, right, but it is email by a substantial margin, which we know from our own attribution modeling. But

Katie Robbert 19:33
what’s different here is that organic social didn’t show up in the other event, which was the form fills, whereas organic social is doing some of the work to drive people to our website.

Christopher Penn 19:46
Exactly. And how do we know spent a lot more on our Twitter ads? You might have seen a greater we got to see your Twitter show up as a paid source in here. Again, if we switch out to our source This is you know, you have Google, you have that junk refer there, we switch to our campaigns. We have our Google Analytics, Google Search Console course, emails, were a driver of those first visits. That’s actually very good for us in a lot of ways. Because it means that even though that was a, it was a conversion focused campaign, it did also spur 582 first visits to our to our site within this time period.

Katie Robbert 20:34
So if you want yours

Christopher Penn 20:40
remind me why you don’t work in sales.

Katie Robbert 20:45
That’s another episode.

Christopher Penn 20:47
That’s another episode. So yes, if you can measure it as an event of any kind in Google Analytics, you can then set it as conversion. And then you can have things be like, you know, top funnel, a funnel, conversions, mid funnel conversions, and so on, and so forth, all the way down to, you know, somebody buying the thing, the only thing you’ve got to make sure is you have enough data for Google to be able to build a model on it. Now, the one thing I will say here that is, is tricky to understand is this tells you the overall efficacy of the channel, but it doesn’t help you understand the position of the channel, in conversion. And for that, you’re going to want to take a step back to the traditional time decay model, which says, essentially the same thing, that same half life thing. But when you switch to time decay, you should be able to see, when are things happening. So here we see there are versions, they’re very early on, they’re just really small, because almost everything is happening at the end of the funnel for this particular conversion event. Let’s switch this to any Thank you. And let’s make sure we’re on the right. Okay, and now let’s switch to time decay. And now for filling out forms, we can see the progress of those different channels throughout organic social here. And obviously, if it was social media ads, hopefully it would be here is is higher up, you can see as we step through, it starts it drops further, the further into the funnel, we go, which again, for the way that we use social media makes logical sense. We use it as an awareness mechanism. So if that’s an early touchpoint, then it’s clearly working. Would I like to have it be generating more late touchpoint conversions? Yeah. But I’ll take what I can get.

Katie Robbert 22:37
Well, and I think that that’s something that as our company grows, and we have more resources dedicated to each individual channel, that’s an achievable goal, the the deficit that we have right now is that it’s just the three of us trying to run every single channel, which as we know, is not as sustainable as it could be and doesn’t lend itself to grow. So that’s why we see the data that we see, but we’re completely aware. Exactly. Brian has a question. Brian’s question is, how long do you continue running social ads? If they’re not converting into sales? Do you attribute any value to them for basic brand awareness? In my experience, I mean, I get very impatient. And so if it’s not converting immediately, I shut it off. But that’s obviously the wrong answer. So just want to get that out of the way. It really depends on how big your audiences what, where in the funnel you’re trying to hit, if it’s like a direct sale, if it’s how much money you’re spending. So there’s a lot of different factors that would go into it. So we ran Twitter ads, and Google ads to subscribe to our newsletter for one month, one month, each successor to do a test. And we didn’t get a lot of conversions from them, but we did see it driving traffic to the website. So it was sort of doing half the goal. So in my opinion, it wasn’t a complete waste, we may have opened up the door to a few more new audience members. Fortunately, we didn’t spend a lot of money doing it. Chris John, what do you guys think?

Christopher Penn 24:19
There’s there’s two parts to the answer. One is if it’s a conversion based campaign, and it’s not converting then the campaign is not working it like go do a brand awareness campaign. If you want brand awareness, do a brand awareness campaign and and measure it appropriately. So don’t try to make a campaign to something it’s not supposed to do. The other answer is we generally advisors will thumb to go to extra conversion window right. So if you are wondering if the campaign is working, make it to extra conversion window unhelpfully. Google Analytics 4. puts that right here. If I look at my you know, in my default channel grouping summary, we have an average of 9.3 days to convert So I would say if we were going to run a new campaign tomorrow, they were going to wait 18 days to see if there’s any results. Because if we can’t get people within essentially, you know, to x, the normal conversion window, the campaign is not working.

Katie Robbert 25:12
Now, that said, tools like Google ads have a lot of AI built in. So they will automatically start optimizing, but there is, you know, a certain amount of test window built into that, which is, I think, roughly about two weeks before you can really expect to see anything. So you also have to factor that in by platform of is it trying to, you know, figure out what’s the best way to run these ads? And then will it auto optimize for you? So again, it’s, you know, I think there’s no one like, here’s the hard and fast rule, because it depends on how big your audiences how much you’re spending, how long your days conversion are all of those different things.

Christopher Penn 25:54
What we’ve seen in the past is that your, your training, window time, shortens commensurate with your budget, right? So we’ve saw, for example, we did a, we ran a basic Google ads campaign for ourselves, and it took almost a month for training to occur. For Facebook, when we back in days, when we used to spend money on Facebook, it was like three to four weeks for a minimal spend, you know, we’re talking, you know, 50 $50 a day, when we did a campaign for a client, and they were spending $10,000 a day, we were hitting training windows in two and a half days, because the system had enough data to train on.

John Wall 26:35
Yeah, I think one big thing with this, too, is you do what Chris had said there, as far as basic brand awareness versus sales. I mean, if you’re running sales campaigns, and you’re not getting any traffic, then you know, that’s a complete failure. So at least start at brand awareness to see if you can drive traffic towards free resources, you know, newsletter subscriptions, whatever, and dial down there. And again, you do reach a point where it’s, you know, you’ll never have anything in the funnel, if you don’t get just raw traffic at the very top. So anything you can do to get any kind of resources looked at, in earlier, you know, brand awareness, traffic is worth doing. Unless you find that, you know, organic SEO or some other campaign does a better job of getting people in the front door. But it basically if you’re sitting there saying, Hey, we just don’t have enough traffic at the front door, then you’ve got to start throwing money at ads, if you don’t have a better way to do

Christopher Penn 27:26
it. The other thing that’s really important about brand awareness campaigns is it’s a calibration tool for your ad strategy. So every ad strategy has the same basic three elements, right? Audience offer creative, you know this since 1968? Do you have the right audience? Do you have the right offer in front of the audience? Do you have the right creative to compel the audience you know, landing page ad copy and all that stuff. If you’re running a brand awareness campaign to to essentially free low, you know, low effort stuff, like you’re talking about John, and you’re not getting anybody to engage, that’s a pretty good sign your audiences wrong, right here, you’re just not ever, if I can’t get you to sign up for you know, to read a free PDF, you know, or to, you know, follow my YouTube channel, then I’ve got the wrong audience.

Katie Robbert 28:17
So, I think that starts to bring us into UTM tracking so that we can see properly, where our audience is coming from. So if we decide we need to do ads, we can either do search ads, or display ads, or social media ads. But starting with the organic, of where people are coming from the first place to see where is that audience? Where do they live, and then we can, you know, start putting money behind those things.

Christopher Penn 28:49
Exactly. And the easiest place to find that is in if you go to Google, Alex, just the stock reporting, which admittedly, you know, is a little rough around the edges, and spots. And we look at our traffic acquisition, looking at our session default grouping, which is where we’re getting people from, and then use instead of using the session, you can switch this to session source. And I’m going to log in

with my acquisition of cure sessions was media. I’ll just use social media for now. I can look down at my different channels and see essentially where people come from. Now, there’s two things that are really problematic here. Number one, is this not set not set, right, that means that we incorrectly that’s, I believe in GA four that indicates you’ve screwed up your UTM parameters, right. So they’re there but they’re wrong. And as a result, they come in as malformed. And then there’s direct none, which is Google’s like, I don’t know, there’s, there’s no data for me to make a decision about this. So I’m just gonna say I have no idea where this came from, and call it that. And Google is does have some decent documentation. So one of the things they have in their developer documentation, which is helpfully hidden away from the general public, is, they list out here all the different URLs that we commonly encounter. And here’s the categories that we assigned them to. So if you get traffic from one of these sites, and there isn’t UTM tracking in place, it will attempt to assign it so like Dailymotion will say your source category there is video, right? And so that will be your you will assign a default channel, grouping Deviant Art, you know, social. Now, we, one of the things that is important here is that if you see a site in here that you use, and you think it’s miscategorized, then it is an indicator, you must use UTM codes, right? This is Google’s guessing list. And so for example, Twitch, they have listed a source category of video, I might take exception with that I see Twitch as equal parts video and social network. But they’ve classified as video. So if I’m running a campaign on Twitch, I might want to use UTM codes to override that and say, no, no, I want this classified as social, especially if it’s coming out your social media budget. So if you have that was interesting. When you look in the traffic acquisition here, you can take a look and say, Okay, well, where what are the sources and mediums that I’m getting my traffic from? And are they are they correct? Are there ones that are problematic? Like we know, there’s this bizarre email bot, that throws some junk data, and we can probably should go and filter that at some point. But what else we have some affiliate stuff coming in, which is correctly tagged as affiliates, we have this one here, this ad bitter API that appears to be miscategorized. paid social, right, so that that’s a one to go dig into figure out what happened there. We know that links are classified as referral. There are social that’s Twitter’s link shortener, but there’s nothing you can do to fix that.

Katie Robbert 32:26
Well, you have LinkedIn and Facebook also categorized as referral and not social.

Christopher Penn 32:34
And so those are those are the actual I’m curious. Now let’s look at acquisition here and see if we can see how Google thinks about those things. Okay, so Google helpfully, if you look, even though the source mediums are Are we think are incorrect, Google’s correctly classifying them because I’m guessing they’re going back to their guessing list and going no, that’s that’s not what that is. Right tea that SEO is correctly bucketed as organic social, which is great. Inbox, insights, LinkedIn, that’s interesting. That’s classified as organic social. So our UTM tag is being our UTM medium tags is correctly assigned because we, when we do those links, in our newsletter, we specify inbox insights. LinkedIn is social, it’s not email. So

Katie Robbert 33:25
is this a report that we can use instead of the first one that you had pulled up?

Christopher Penn 33:33
Yeah, because this is just the act. Are you mean for for attribution? Now, this is just traffic acquisition. This is where your traffic?

Katie Robbert 33:40
Yeah, not for attribution just for traffic acquisition. So for example, in Universal Analytics, we don’t have any idea what Google thinks this stuff should be. So this version of the report doesn’t exist in Universal Analytics.

Christopher Penn 33:57
I think it doesn’t just have to add it in in the interface, it just was never made quite as clear that you could just add a whole bunch of extra things. And they used to have that ridiculous like tiny mini drop down saying add your secondary dimension. This one makes it a little bit easier to do that. It’s just more obvious in the face.

Katie Robbert 34:14
Right? I know, you can add the secondary dimension, but it would still so for example, the first version of the report that you were looking at still had it as LinkedIn, Facebook as referral traffic. This one corrects it to what it should be. And that doesn’t exist in Universal Analytics. Right. So I guess my question is, this is a report then that you can use instead of the first version.

Christopher Penn 34:42
Yes, that’s right. Or better yet, if you’re working with stakeholders, replicate this in Data Studio so that they’re not stumbling around trying to find all the widgets.

Katie Robbert 34:53
But of course, your best bet is to have strict governance around UTM codes so that they are being tracked To correctly.

Christopher Penn 35:01
Exactly. So that brings us to Well, so what?

Katie Robbert 35:08
Yeah, what do you do with all this information? Like, that’s great, but what do you do with it? So I think the thing that I’m looking to understand and that other marketers are likely looking to understand is like, okay, so I can look at this bar chart. What do I do with it? How do I take action on it?

Christopher Penn 35:27
And that’s a perfectly valid question, the answer to that question is, do you see results proportional to what? The effort that’s going into them? Right, so we know, for example, and I’m gonna switch this medium here, and conversion paths, we know we invest a lot of time every week in our newsletter, we spend time on it, we write decent copy, we put we put a lot of effort into it, and we see a good amount of effort that goes into that rewarded with, you know, a high level of conversions. Right. So you know, from that perspective, things looks good. Where we have we, I would see some issues would be like, you know, we spend a lot of time creating content for the web. And organic search is not the AI up on the list. So we know that there’s a mismatch there between the resources, we invest in that, and the outcomes we get from it. And we know we were running Twitter ads, at some point in this period, and we don’t see them at all on here for this conversion site. Now, this is the any thank you page, which excludes newsletter. Thank you.

Katie Robbert 36:36
So it was a newsletter? Which was why you wouldn’t see it here.

Christopher Penn 36:41
Exactly. So which is good, because if you saw here, it would mean that our tag manager was set up wrong.

Katie Robbert 36:46
Right? So you’d want if you were looking at the newsletter, thank you, then you should see Twitter ads.

Christopher Penn 36:51
Exactly. And so if you, you know, on a on a percentage basis, let’s say if you’re putting 40% of your budget into Facebook ads, and 40% of your conversions are not happening from Facebook ads, you’ve got a mismatch, and you need to either take, say do we need, we then need to fine tune and re optimize our Facebook ads, or we need to stop running them, because we’re not we’re getting disproportionately worse returns than we are for something else. So the so what have any attribution model always is, what should we do less of what do we do more of?

Katie Robbert 37:25
I think the other thing with that with the caveat that you’re not just arbitrarily setting date ranges for your attribution models. You need to be thoughtful around like, I’m going to look at it every single month over month, and understand what I was doing in the past month or so I’m going to look at the date range in which I was running a campaign to see, you know, if it shows up there, but if you’re like, I’m going to look at January, but I was running the campaign in March, you’re kind of out of luck.

Christopher Penn 37:58
Exactly. So that’s what you do with this stuff. And again, you can look at it in your conversion paths for conversions to set up. And as we saw with traffic acquisition, or user acquisition, you can look at those ways as well. Are we acquiring new users from our campaigns? One of the big things to understand is that Google Analytics still creates this division between users and sessions. So you have users, essentially, traffic acquisition is session level acquisition, and the data will look different. So user acquisition focuses essentially on first touch to say like, what is the first channel that brought these users in. And again, we see you know, email, organic, search, organic, social, and so on, and so forth. And if we switch this up, we can see first user source. I will add in our acquisition, let’s you first use a default channel grouping. And so we see here, interestingly, the affiliates did not get correctly assigned by Google Analytics. So we have to go and check that out to see what happened there. But we could take a look at this okay, well, we’re what’s the first thing somebody does to get to know us? You know, organic searches decently high up with this list? That the Twitter ads stuff that misclassified as organic social, that first user touch, which is interesting.

Katie Robbert 39:29
Okay, let’s the elephant in the room, we keep saying that it was my screw up. I’ve owned it already. I probably screwed up the UTM code. So let’s just stop asking the question of what happened. I happened.

Christopher Penn 39:42
Yes, but for everybody else who’s looking at this in their own data gonna run into these things, and you will have to ask, who did it who did it right? What happened? Why did this happen? And that’s where, you know from an analytics governance perspective, that’s the hard part about about analytics governance is When it becomes pretty obvious, you kind of screwed up, and you don’t have supportive, supportive working environments, everyone go and happen, you move on. Instead you get yelled at for an hour in a staff meeting. Well, go ahead.

John Wall 40:13
Well, as I said, the one thing with that, though, is, you know, now that you see it’s wrong, you can still go dig into those channels, and you can still get to the results, you can see if it actually moves the needle, which is much better than just going through life thinking that it did zero because it didn’t show up in the proper channel.

Christopher Penn 40:29

Katie Robbert 40:30
Now, the question I have Chris, so when you were looking at, gosh, and now I’m getting all these reports confused, because the interface is so different. I think when you were looking at the attribution models, you had switched this version of the report to something that Google had each of these sources categorized, and what they want them to be categorized as

Christopher Penn 40:58
does that oh, that’s, that’s the developer documentation?

Katie Robbert 41:01
No, I know. But you would switch to version, you’d switch to a report in here, I think under attribution, does that work here? So if you, I guess, the second column?

Christopher Penn 41:13
Well, so this is the default, these are the default channel groupings that Google thinks these belong to.

Katie Robbert 41:19
Okay, so in a different report.

Christopher Penn 41:22
So we were traveling acquisition did the same thing. And traffic

Katie Robbert 41:25
the affiliate like so row nine, for example, the affiliate as the channel was correctly labeled.

Christopher Penn 41:33
And that was the medium. So that was the medium. And I guess Google for whatever reason, we got check the documentation to figure out why that medium was not appropriately, who did not get classified correctly.

Katie Robbert 41:47
And I guess this is where I’m totally confused. And I don’t mean to completely derail the episode. But in a different report, the medium was correctly assigned. And now it’s saying it’s unassigned. And that’s where I’m a little confused.

Christopher Penn 41:58
So this is Channel grouping that medium.

Katie Robbert 42:02
Okay, I think this is not a problem that we can solve on this show. Because I think

Christopher Penn 42:07
I just found it. So if you look in the documentation, it’s singular, not plural. So it’s for Google to classify something as affiliates, it has to be affiliate singular and not plural. For the default channel grouping to work correctly.

John Wall 42:23
So you’re saying for the UTM code, if you Yeah, so

Christopher Penn 42:26
if I switch this from from default channel grouping to medium now. It’s affiliates. It’s plural. I see. So one letter difference as screwed up our attribution. So again, we are what we should have done is had a spreadsheet or something with a, a drop down that you can’t edit. So that you because that was my fault, because that was what I sent over to the folks that Convince & Convert. And it should have basically said, No, you can’t use plural affiliates. It has to be affiliate singular in order for Google to classify it properly.

Katie Robbert 43:03
And all of these rules are just dizzying,

Christopher Penn 43:09
dizzying, and Google is a lot less flexible in this version of analytics.

Katie Robbert 43:18
Yeah, but I feel like every time we go through this, as frustrating as it can be, the three of us collectively, along with anyone who’s watching, we’re learning a lot. Because, you know, the three of us here, we’re trying to figure it out as we go, along with teaching. So like we’re, we’re a little ahead of the game in terms of we’re in it every day. But there’s still a lot that Google hasn’t made transparent.

Christopher Penn 43:46
And a lot of that has to do with the fact that their their best documentation is in the developer portal and not the regular

Katie Robbert 43:54
place to go look.

Christopher Penn 43:56
On the wall. Again, this is, as we’ve said, with many Mar tech tools, it’s not just Google with many more tech tools. They’re made by engineers, and very often they’re made for engineers. So what I’d like to close out with this, Katie, what can what what are you going to do to increase your use of Google Analytics 4.

Katie Robbert 44:18
I am going to number one, create a UTM governance spreadsheet with the updated Google Analytics, 4 UTM codes that you can’t add it. And that in the formula auto corrects things, if possible. So there’s that. And number two is I’m going to start challenging myself to build more Data Studio dashboards using Google Analytics 4 data versus my comfort zone, which is Universal Analytics.

Christopher Penn 44:52
John, what about you?

John Wall 44:54
Yeah, the thing for me is like you have to decide when you’re going to pull off the band aid and do it you know, because this is one of those horrible projects that there’s really not a lot of upside. You know, it’s like, if you go through all the pain, you’re gonna have Google Analytics, just like you did before the upgrade, you know, it’s, it’s kind of one of those no one projects yet, you’re gonna have to do it sooner or later. So, yeah, I guess the big thing is, it isn’t seen as that the months are flying by no matter what happens. So it’s got to be up and running and have at least the same functionality by end of year, because you definitely don’t want to be in the first half of next year. But I can’t say at least, especially if you’re doing e commerce stuff, you are probably better off waiting at least another three months just to see if like Shopify integrations finally get built out and some of these other tools, because you’d hate to build a whole bunch of stuff. And then four months later, have somebody come out with an integration that clashes with that, and you have to clean it or fix it or whatever. So yeah, it’s nothing but horrible news really, is my takeaway from this.

Christopher Penn 45:59
My singular piece of advice is if you have Google Analytics bookmarks in Chrome, change that bookmark so that your default behavior now has to be to start with GA for make yourself get used to it, you know, it’s like, you know, changing an ingredient, your dishes, you know, your doctor said, you have to change this ingredient. So the default reaction is not going to be changed unless you force yourself to do it. So change your bookmarks. Delete your browser history with the old URL, save where you got all dashboards. That’s, that’s the easiest and least inconvenient way to start changing your behavior. All right, any final thoughts?

John Wall 46:44
exercise more? Eat? Right? That’s it.

Katie Robbert 46:47
I think honestly, if you are. If you are frustrated with the definitions and Google Analytics, 4, know that you’re not alone. I am happy to be frustrated with you. And you can find me in our free slack group free. And I will be frustrated alongside with you as you try to figure out why affiliates and affiliate are not showing up totally

John Wall 47:17
different. Oh, my goodness.

Katie Robbert 47:19
So yeah, just know that we are here to help.

Christopher Penn 47:25
All right, folks, we will all see you all next week. Thanks for watching today. Be sure to subscribe to our show wherever you’re watching it. For more resources. And to learn more. Check out the Trust Insights podcast at trust AI podcast, and a weekly email newsletter at trust Got questions about what you saw in today’s episode. Join our free analytics for markers slack group at trust for marketers, see you next time.

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