Google Analytics 4: User Medium vs Session Medium

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Google Analytics 4: User Medium vs Session Medium

Guilherme asks, “In the acquisition report, when it’s on the user tab, it’s listing the channel that the those users came through on:
A – their first visit ever
B – their first visit within the selected timeframe
C – the last visit ever
D – the last visit within the selected timeframe
E – other?”

This is a good question that the basic documentation doesn’t really answer. You’ll find the answer in the dimensions and metrics guidance, which states:

“Session medium: channel that referred the user’s session.”

“User medium: Medium by which the user was first acquired, based on the Cross-channel last click attribution model.”

For those unfamiliar, the cross-channel last click attribution model is Google’s basic last-click attribution model with a slight twist: it excludes direct traffc (traffic that is unattributed) except when no other data is available.

Thus, the user medium is essentially the first touch, while the session medium is the current last touch for that user.

What do we do with this information? Now that we have a sense of what the two dimensions mean, we start to assemble explorations like this:

Google Analytics 4 Exploration

What we see above is the first touch and last touch, followed by active users, events, and conversions. While this is by no means a comprehensive attribution model, it is for the moment the only kind of attribution model available in Google Analytics 4 at the time of this writing, without building one from the raw data.

If you’re trying to do attribution analysis in Google Analytics 4, the reality is that as of right now, it’s not ready for prime-time compared to the more thorough models that are bundled in Google Analytics 3 (Universal Analytics). Until GA 4 matures, stick with the models in Google Attribution for GA 3.

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One response to “Google Analytics 4: User Medium vs Session Medium”

  1. […] 19 Penn, Christopher S. “Google Analytics 4: User Medium vs Session Medium.” Christopher S. Penn, 12 May 2022, […]

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