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Google Analytics 4: source/medium report

ga4 source/medium report

One of the most popular reports within the Universal Analytics version is definitely the Source/Medium Report.

In this Report, you can quickly observe the source and medium of users landing on the website.

In UA we can find it under Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium

source/media report google analytics

The new version of GA4 offers many features but there is still no Report with this dimension.

In fact, if we try to explore the Acquisition report we find several entries but not the one with source/medium.

In this post I want to show you how the new Google Analytics 4 behaves and what dimensions we have available.

Acquisition Report in GA4

A number of Reports are available in Google Analytics 4 that offer a more qualitative User Interface than the Universal Analytics version.

Within the Acquisition Report it is possible to find a series of reports:

  • Acquisition overview: shows an overview of the channels from which users land on the website;;
  • User acquisition: shows which is the first channel of a user who landed on your website;
  • Traffic acquisition: shows which are the channels of the different sessions that have browsed the site;
ga4 acquisition

Each of these Reports offers a set of primary and secondary dimensions that can be added to analyze user behavior, as you see in the image below:

ga4 dimensions

However, exploring the primary dimension of Acquisition reports, we do not find the ‘source/medium‘ dimension that was in Universal Analytics:

dimensions in ga4 acquisition report

Despite this, thanks to the enormous flexibility offered by the GA4 UI, we can create by ourselves the Report with the dimension of our interest and update the list of available Reports.

However, we need to pay attention to the name of the new dimensions in GA4 and get some clarity on where they apply, before creating our Report.

Also, remember that GA4 is different from UA: as also written in the Official Guide, each session is associated with only one Source or Campaign and does not start a new session if GA4 encounters a new Source or Campaign.

Source and Medium Dimensions in GA4

Scrolling through Google’s official guide we find several dimensions that refer to the Source and Medium of the users’.

In addition, we also find different Scopes for the Traffic’s dimensions.

Let’s try to make a summary list to clarify:

DimensionAvailable inScopeParameterCoreReporting API
Source/MediumAttributionEventutm_source, utm_mediumsourceMedium
First user source/mediumUser AcquisitionUserutm_source, utm_mediumfirstUserSourceMedium
Session source/mediumTraffic AcquisitionSessionutm_source, utm_mediumsessionSourceMedium

As we can observe, the ‘source/medium‘ dimension seems to be different in GA4 than in UA.

It is available for the Attribution Report and is event-scoped so it is a dimension that is about what brings the user to a new session within which a Conversion occurs.

Also, Google tells us that event-scoped dimensions have the feature of having only the “dimension name” within them, such as “Source“.

Let’s make a test, comparing the ‘source/medium‘ dimension with the ‘Session source’ and ‘Session medium‘ dimensions.

In the next steps I’ll explain how to try to create the ‘Source/Medium’ Report and then we’ll see the differences between the traffic dimensions.

Create Source/Medium Report in GA4

To create our Custom Report and save it to always have it available, just follow these simple steps.

Step 1 – Acquisition Report

Go to one of the Acquisition Reports in Google Analytics 4.

In my example, I will go to the Traffic acquisition report:

rapporto acquisition ga4

Step 2 – Click on ‘Customize Report’

Now click on the top right of the pen icon where it says ‘Customize Reports‘.

custom report in ga4

Click on the icon to edit the report you are viewing.

Step 3 – Select the dimensions to modify

Now that we are inside the customization of the Report, let’s select ‘Dimensions‘ in order to modify the dimensions that interest us:

modify a report in ga4

Then we click on ‘+ Add dimension‘ and choose the ‘source/medium‘ dimension.

add a dimension in google analytics 4

We look for the ‘source/medium‘ dimension:

source/medium dimension in ga4

Step 4 – Remove the dimension that do not interest us

Now we need to clean up the report, removing the dimensions we don’t care about and leaving only the ‘source/medium‘ dimension.

Just click on the three dots and click on the command ‘Remove‘.

remove dimensions in ga4 report

Once we have removed all dimensions, we can click ‘Apply‘ to save the report:

source/medium in ga4

Step 5 – Save the source/medium Report in GA4

Once we have changed the dimensions, we can save the Report by clicking on the ‘Save‘ tab.

We see that the new Report will already have the name with the newly inserted dimension i.e. ‘Traffic acquisition: Source/Medium‘.

rename report in google analytics 4

There will be two options that you can choose based on your needs:

  • save changes to current report: modifies the current Traffic acquisition report, replacing it with the Source/Medium dimension only
  • sava as a new report: creates a new specific Report with the source/medium dimension only

In my example I will select ‘save as a new report‘ to add the report among the others already present:

save a new report in ga4

Step 6 – Rename the Report

If you save the new report as ‘new report‘ you will need to give it a name so that you can easily find it in the Google Analytics 4 UI list.

source/medium report in ga4

Step 7 – Go to GA4 Library

Once the report is saved, you will need to go to the Library to make the Report available.

To access the Library simply click on ‘Library‘ under all Reports:

library ga4

Now, select ‘Life cycle‘ to be able to edit its structure:

life cycle in ga4

Look for the report you just created, the one I called ‘Traffic acquisition: Source/Medium‘ in my example, and drag it from the right to the left block in the ‘Acquisition‘ Report:

customize collection google analytcs 4

And save it.

Once you have saved, the Report will be available in the Google Analytics 4 User Interface:

ga4 source/medium user interface

Edit Report in GA4

If you find that you want to make changes to the name of the report you just created, remember that you can do so at any time.

Go to the ‘Library‘ part and click on the Report you just created to, for example, rename it: click on the three dots and select ‘rename‘:

rename ga4 report

You can edit the name and save.

edit and save the name of the report in ga4

Within Library you can also change the dimensions and metrics of the report you just created or move it to another position.

Differences between ‘Source/Medium’, ‘Session source’ and ‘Session medium’

Now that we’ve created the Custom Report with the ‘source/medium‘ dimension, let’s try to see the difference in values that are collected compared to the other dimensions.

To view the Report with the ‘Session source‘ and ‘Session medium‘ dimensions, simply:

  1. Go to the Traffic acquisition
  2. Select ‘Session source‘ as a primary dimension
  3. Secelct ‘Session medium‘ as a secondary dimension
source and medium ga4

If we compare the Report’s data with the ‘source/medium‘ dimension vs. the Report with the two dimensions above, the difference is as follows (values taken as an example from a GA4 Property):

ReportMetric: UsersΔ%Metric: SessionsΔ%
Report ‘Session source’ and ‘Session medium’625,366835,790
Report ‘source/medium’93,491-568,9%409,549-50,99%

The difference is clear and the reason is the Scope on which the chosen dimension is based.

Conclusions

In this post, we started from the ‘source/medium‘ dimension in a dedicated Universal Analytics Report and tried to look for the same dimension in Google Analytics 4.

What we have observed is that the name of the dimension is the same between the two versions of GA, however the purpose, underlying the dimension, is different.

We can conclude that the closest dimension to ‘source/medium‘ in Universal Analytics is the ‘Session source/medium‘ dimension in GA4.

However, the ‘Session source/medium‘ dimension is only available in the Explore section of GA4:

session source/medium ga4

Alternatively, I can use the combination of primary and secondary dimension within the Traffic Acquisition Report:

traffic acquistion report ga4

I hope that soon Google will also make the ‘Session source/medium‘ dimension available as a primary dimension in the Traffic Acquisition Report, not forcing us to create a Report in Explore to have this primary dimension available.

GA4 is constantly being updated, so I wouldn’t be surprised if, shortly, this will happen

Good analysis!


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