Instant Insights The Beginners Generative AI Starter Kit 9


This data was originally featured in the February 7th, 2024 newsletter found here: INBOX INSIGHTS, FEBRUARY 7, 2024: BUILDING REQUIREMENTS WITH AI, GA4 DIAGNOSTICS

As we covered recently on the Trust Insights livestream, Google Analytics 4 can be a bit cumbersome to use. So starting this week, I’ll be sharing a four part series on diagnostic analytics for GA4, to understand whether or not your GA4 is working correctly. It’s important to note that we won’t be examining GA4 for marketing purposes – this is bare bones, bare metal “is it working?” Stuff. Let’s look into your GA4 health.

This week, let’s start with one of the most important visualizations: your source/medium chart. I personally extract the data from GA4 via the API but you can easily build this chart in seconds in the Explorations menu. Choose session source/medium as your dimension, and sessions as your metric, then put up the top 25 or 50 rows:

GA4 Session chart

Here’s what we’re looking for.

  1. Direct traffic: in general, direct traffic shouldn’t exceed 25% of your overall traffic for most websites. Exceptions would be a site where a login page is often bookmarked and returned to. (You can filter out that page if you want to see this chart more clearly, just add Page path and query string as a dimension and filter it in the filters section). When direct traffic exceeds 25% under normal circumstances, it’s an indicator that you may have content out there that has no tagging, like naked links in email programs. It’s a warning sign to check your UTM tagging governance.
  2. (Not set): Anything marked (not set) is trouble. Not set means Google saw the traffic coming in and it was valid, but it had no tracking data. For combinations that look like this: Email/(not set) you have a tracking code problem. One or more parts of your UTM tracking codes are not set up properly or malformed. For (not set)/(not set), that can be both tracking code issues as well as devices and browsers with security settings turned all the way up.
  3. Capitalized anything: generally speaking, GA4’s default channel groupings rely on a fairly strict set of guidelines, one of which is that the medium tag should always be in lower case. A source medium like Facebook/Social will NOT be categorized as Organic Social in the default channel groupings. The correct version of this is facebook/social or better, to ensure the traffic is going into the right default buckets for attribution purposes.
  4. Campaign information in source/medium: it is technically true that UTM tags are arbitrary, and as long as the query parameters are structured properly (utm_source, utm_medium, etc.), GA4 will ingest what you put in those fields. But some pieces of the software like attribution and channel groupings only work properly out of the box if they follow Google’s guidelines. That means not doing things like email-campaign-jun-23/email as a source/medium – that will make attribution reporting more complicated than it needs to be. Campaign information should always be set in the utm_campaign tracking tag.
  5. Garbage: some bots will add garbage traffic to your GA4 instance, like things that look like this: gwefc-asxcyt-sdfy/email. This is garbage traffic from bots, and is something you’ll want to work with your implementation team to exclude entirely, as it’s worthless.

It’s important to remember that despite your best efforts, other traffic will find its way into your Google Analytics installation that will NOT adhere to best practices. You only have control over what you do – but if you’re adhering to best practices, then it becomes clear very quickly what traffic is yours and what traffic isn’t. For certain, you want to ensure any traffic you’re paying for (ads, influencers, affiliates, etc.) is tagged properly so you can do ROI calculations later – that traffic should always be prioritized for cleanliness first and foremost.

In the next post in this series, we’ll look at events and conversions.

Shameless plug: if you want these analyses done for you, rather than you doing them yourself, contact us.

Need help with your marketing AI and analytics?

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Trust Insights ( is one of the world's leading management consulting firms in artificial intelligence/AI, especially in the use of generative AI and AI in marketing. Trust Insights provides custom AI consultation, training, education, implementation, and deployment of classical regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI, especially large language models such as ChatGPT's GPT-4-omni, Google Gemini, and Anthropic Claude. Trust Insights provides analytics consulting, data science consulting, and AI consulting.

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