You pay good money for your ads on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest! So don’t let all that valuable traffic get lumped in with your other visitors from social media, in the general “Social” Channel.

It’s important to clearly separate social media traffic you’ve paid for (advertising) and organic traffic (from your own and others’ posts). In this guide, we’ll create a new Channel called “Paid Social” that will automagically capture all our social ad visitors, where they can be analyzed separately.

IMPORTANT: These instructions are for Universal Analytics. Google Analytics 4 comes with a Paid Social Channel built in, so you can start using that right away by simply tagging your links with the correct Medium value: paid-social

Stop! Protect that data.

This is a configuration that will permanently change your data. It’s important that you have a separate Test View to do these in, just in case something goes wrong!

Preparing Google Analytics with backup & test Views

Before you continue, read how to create “backup” and “test” Views. Do this once and always rest assured that you have a backup in case anything goes wrong.

How to Copy Google Analytics Settings in Minutes

If you already have a Test view, and you’re totally happy with the filters that are running in it, now’s a good time to apply them to your main view before making any new changes.

What’s a Channel?

Channels are the biggest “traffic buckets” in your Acquisition reports. They group your traffic from lots of different places that have a similar purpose. For example, traffic from Google searches and searches on Etsy should both be in the “Organic Search” channel.

Some of the other default Channels include Email, Display (advertising) and Social. Very broad! (Read more about the Google Analytics default Channels here.)

Channels in GA4 are broadly similar but have slightly different definition. Learn more about them here.

How do Channels work?

Google Analytics uses other information about each session (usually its Medium) to decide which Channel bucket to put it into. The rules it follows are called the Channel’s “Definition”.

For example, the rule for the Email Channel is: If Medium exactly matches “email


Some other rules are more complicated (especially if you’ve customized your Definitions for Etsy), but they still work the same: if a session meets the rules, it goes in the Channel.

Create a Paid Social Channel in Google Analytics

These instructions are for Universal Analytics and will be valid until 1 July 2023.

The new Channel we’ll create will capture visits with the Medium social-paid”.

Open the Default Channel Grouping definitions

  1. Head to the Admin section
  2. Select your Etsy shop’s Account, Property and Test View from the drop-downs.
  3. In the right-hand column, open
    Channel Settings > Channel Grouping
  4. Open the Default Channel Grouping

Create the new Channel

  1. At the top of the list of Channels, click [Define a new channel]
  2. Name the new Channel Paid Social
  3. Define the first rule like this: Medium contains paid-social
  4. Click [Done]

Re-order and finish up

  1. Click-and-drag your new Channel so it’s positioned between Organic Search and Social.
  2. Click [Save] at the bottom of the page.

If you already have a Paid Social Channel

If you created and have been using a Paid Social Channel before reading the latest version of this article, you can add the suggested rule above in addition to whatever rules you already have in place.

Your rule definitions might look like this:

Choosing “OR” will make sure traffic goes into this bucket when it has either of these Medium values.

Send your ad traffic to Paid Social

For your social ad visits to appear in the new Paid Social Channel, the traffic must match the rule: the Medium must be “paid-social“.

You can control the Medium by using Campaign Tags on the destination URLs for your ads.

Learn how to use Campaign Tags (on ads and more!)

UTM Campaign tags: marketing pixie dust that you control!

If you’ve hung around here for a while, you’ll have heard a little about UTM Campaign Tags. They are the magic ingredient for making sure that visits from Instagram, Pinterest and anywhere else show up in your Google Analytics reports correctly. Why doesn’t this happen right in the first place?? To know where a visitor came from,…

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