Marketers and website owners need to clearly understand where their website or app traffic originates from and how their marketing campaigns are performing. In Google Analytics 4 (GA4), Google introduced a new default channel called the “cross-network” default channel. By the end of this article, you will clearly understand what the cross-network default channel stands for and how it can enhance your marketing insights in GA4.
What is a cross-network default channel in GA4?
A cross-network default channel in GA4 (Google Analytics 4) is a default channel grouping that combines data from multiple advertising networks. Before I explain further, what exactly is a default channel in GA4?
In Google Analytics 4 (GA4), a default channel is a grouping mechanism that categorizes the source or medium of the traffic to your website or app. It helps you understand where your traffic comes from and how these users interact with your digital product.
Some of the default channel grouping in GA4 includes the following channels: Organic Search, Direct, Referral, Organic Social, Paid Social, Email, Paid Search, Display, etc. You can read our article on channel grouping, a comprehensive write-up on default channel grouping in GA4.
These default channels provide a high-level overview of your traffic sources, allowing you to analyse and optimise your marketing efforts. However, you can also create custom channels in GA4 to further categorise and analyse your traffic based on your specific needs.
Now, back to our discussion on cross-network default channel, the cross-network default channel in GA4 provides a way to categorise and view data from various advertising platforms together. In a nutshell, it stands for Google Ads traffic from Discovery, Performance Max, and Smart Shopping campaigns. These are campaigns that can be promoted across multiple networks simultaneously, such as Google Display Network, Discover, Gmail, and YouTube.
It eliminates the need to manually create custom channels for each network, making it easier to analyse and compare the effectiveness of marketing efforts across different platforms.
This feature is particularly valuable for marketers who run campaigns on multiple advertising networks. It enables them to gain insights into the overall performance of their marketing efforts, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions to optimise their campaigns effectively.
It’s important to note that the cross-network default channel is a new addition in GA4 and was not available in the previous version of Google Analytics (Universal Analytics). Its introduction has brought greater convenience and efficiency to marketers, allowing them to view their cross-network advertising performance within a single view comprehensively.
To access the cross-network traffic data in GA4, simply click on Reports ->Acquisition->User/Traffic Acquisition. If you have traffic from any cross-network campaign, you will see it listed as “cross-network with the other default channels under the session default channel group in the acquisition reports.
How does default grouping work for Google Ads traffic?
As mentioned earlier, GA4 groups users’ traffic into different default groups based on various criteria. For Google Ads traffic, GA4 groups them based on the platform source, which is Google Ads, and the network type or campaign type. So, let’s look at the default channel groups in GA4 for Google Ads traffic.
- Paid Shopping: Google Ads with campaign type “Shopping.”
- Paid Search: Google Ads with ad network type “Google Search” or “Google Partners”.
- Paid Video: Google Ads with ad network type “YouTube Search” or “YouTube Videos”.
- Display: Google Ads with ad network type “Google Display Network”
- Cross-network: Google Ads with ad network type “Cross-network” (Discovery, Performance Max, or Smart Shopping)
- Paid Social: Google Ads with ad network type “Social”
Cross-network channels refer to campaigns that can be promoted across multiple networks simultaneously, such as Google Search Network, Discover, Gmail. By tracking campaigns across different networks, businesses can gain insights into the performance and effectiveness of their marketing strategies.
GA4 offers default channel groupings and the ability to create custom channels, allowing for a comprehensive analysis of marketing campaigns and optimization of resources. A cross-network default channel in GA4 refers to a default channel grouping that combines data from multiple advertising networks: Discovery, Performance Max, and Smart Shopping campaigns. Overall, cross-network channels in GA4 play a crucial role in understanding marketing performance and driving better results.
Frequently Asked Questions
A cross-network default channel in GA4 (Google Analytics 4) refers to a default channel grouping that combines data from multiple advertising networks, which includes Discovery, Performance Max, and Smart Shopping campaigns.
The default channels for Google Ads traffic include Paid Shopping, Paid Search, Paid Video, Display, Cross-network, and Paid Social.