You Ask, I Answer: Source/Medium Governance in Google Analytics?

Jakes asks, “With the switch to GA4 Source/Medium is becoming so much more important, can you recommend any resources that I can share with our advertising stakeholders to upscale them on the best use of of these parameters?”

This is a question of power and process. First, you have to have the organizational power to impose the change on stakeholders, which may require some time to build and a business case to be made. Second, you need a process to do it – even something as simple as a shared Google sheet.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

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In today’s episode Jake asks with the switch to Google Analytics for source medium is becoming so much more important.

Can you recommend any resources I can share with our advertising stakeholders to upscale them on the best use of these parameters? So it’s good question.

Source medium absolutely is now the way we’re going to measure and do attribution channel groupings are gone, because as we discussed in yesterday’s episode, they’re mostly wrong most of the time.

So to make effective changes, we need two things, we need power and we need process.

First, you need to have the organizational power to impose a change on stakeholders, whether it’s vendors or partners, or the departments in your company.

And it’s gonna require some time to build, you’ll probably need to make a business case for it.

Now, with a vendor partner, that’s actually pretty easy to say, look, we’re going to be measuring via source medium, because that’s the way you’re the future, we’re going to be building attribution models from it, if you want credit, for the work that you’re doing.

If you want us to be able to reliably analyze your ROI, you need to get on board with our system.

And that’s generally a pretty easy case to make.

And that really the same is true for internal stakeholders as well to be able to say, Hey, we want you to get credit for the work that you’re doing.

Right? This this whole category in Google Analytics called direct, which means Google doesn’t know and you don’t want your work falling in the I don’t know a bucket, because we don’t know if it’s yours, you want credit for what you’re doing.

So that means making sure that you’re using tags, UTM tags, and that you’re using them properly.

The thing that people don’t understand is that they assume source medium or equivalent and their hierarchy, right medium is the broadest category, and it’s the one that people need to, to figure out sooner rather than later.

Source gives clarity to medium source explains medium.

And sometimes when you’re dealing with issues where there’s tracking problems, it’s just because people don’t know that they don’t know the importance of those two and how they relate to each other.

And that the medium is the least arbitrary of these these defined channels.

So that’s the first part is just getting everybody to understand that requires education, a lot of education.

Second, you need a process to do this to help manage this.

Because if you don’t, it will remain a free for all because people get stuck in their ways.

And the way we recommend this, it can be a super complex system, you could build a shiny web app, all this stuff or make a spreadsheet, right, a shared spreadsheet.

So let’s flip over here.

Take us real simple spreadsheet, and do some things like date, owner, maybe a campaign that it’s part of, and then a source and a medium.

Right.

And that’s the five big things Oh, and a URL, I would help, wouldn’t it.

And then final URL, and what you’re, what you’re gonna do is put together real simple formula.

That’s going to do things like equals concatenate.

We’re going to do the source URL with a question mark.

And then UTM source equals this.

And UTM.

Medium equals this, I get fancy.

And UTM.

campaign equals, and then this.

That’s the very, very simple version, right? You’re just gluing all this stuff together.

So if I put in today’s date, which is 1029 20, but my initials, I’ll call this you ask I answer the source.

In this case, I’m going to putting this on YouTube, the medium is going to be let’s do well, let’s do this.

Let’s make a list of mediums we want people to be using, right so we’re gonna do referral, organic display.

Let’s see.

paid search, paid social, social, regular social, email, affiliate.

Let’s see the other sources that we want to use mediums that we want to use.

Let’s call those mediums Then we’re going to go here to this medium, we’re going to choose format, and we’re going to do data validation.

And I’m going to show a drop down from a range, choose our range.

And then reject input.

If you don’t use what’s in the drop down, save.

And now you kind of have to choose which one of these you’re going to be doing your work in.

Right? And that helps.

And then let’s put the URL here.

And then let’s fix my error.

I, where did I screw up? See, there we go.

And so what you see is, it’s glued together everything into one nice tracking code.

Now, this is a very straightforward thing to do.

And you can there’s, you can get super fancy when we’ve done this for clients, we’ve actually built a JavaScript on the back end that will control all sorts of stuff going on, you know, removing spaces, changing punctuation, making everything lowercase, etc.

But this is, this is the starting point.

And you share this with folks and say, Hey, everybody enter your stuff, right? So that it, it’s in one place.

That really helps.

Just something as simple as this really helps keep things clean.

Especially when you do stuff like with medium where you control it, you apply some control on it and say, okay, you’re not allowed to choose something’s not in the list.

If you need something that you know, and the list isn’t there, you can put it in.

But fundamentally, you got to stick with what’s in the list.

That’s how you apply some governance to this.

The hard part is getting people to do it.

And then making sure there’s a system in place that gives them the flexibility they need to get their work done, right.

You don’t want to be a bottleneck or stakeholder.

But is easy, right? And it still lets you go in and go wow, you know, if there’s an engineer, you know, Bob wrote something and just did it all wrong.

You can then diagnosis and reach out to Bob say, Bob, that that’s not what we talked about.

We need you to be doing this way instead.

And again, programmatically, you can control a lot behind the scenes to help clean things up.

If you again, if you wanted to build a web app, you certainly could.

But I don’t know that that’s necessary.

I think it’s a little bit overkill sometimes.

So that’s how we do this.

Like I said, it’s education.

Its process.

So be quiet.

You’ve got follow up questions, leave in the comments box below.

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