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What's the difference between filtering by “referral” traffic and Channel Grouping Referral?

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# 1
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I ran into this question when trying to complete the activity in 3.2 acquisition report. What's the difference between "All Traffic > Source/Medium report, filtering by 'referral' traffic" and "Channels > Referral in the Default Channel Grouping column"? The results are different but I can't figure out why.



Re: What's the difference between filtering by “referral” traffic and Channel Grouping Referral?

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# 2
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In Google Analytics, Medium refer to different mediums through which the user arrived to site. For example, Organic (User directly came from search engine, say google or yahoo). Meaning he/she came 'organically', through unpaid medium, essentially.


Other example could be CPC (cost per click), the paid medium. In broader sense, meaning through a paid add on some site. You probably ran an advertising campaign that resulted in add on some site, say People clicked your add, but on that site. 


Other medium example is referral, meaning people came to your site from some other site. GA tracks this event as referral, and primary site he came from as referrer. This typically indicates that users landed on your site through a medium other than search engine.


Source in this context is which website generated that user in-coming event. 


When you look at "All Traffic > Source/Medium" report, your basic dimension of analysis is a combination of Source / Medium that users used to land to your site. So the report is telling you, for a given combination of source / medium, how many users came to your site.  When you filter by 'referral', you say for any given source, but medium as referral (but exclude any other medium), give me statistics. 


"Channel -> Default Channel Grouping" is giving you current view of default channel grouping. The grouping is rule based. Meaning these definitions can evolve over time. You can also customize it under admin-> view -> Channel Settings -> Default Channel Grouping. 




The key here is that channel matches to Referral are case sensitive and definition is that :

Medium exactly matches referral .


Hence you see the difference in count. 


If you want to confirm a number match to first report above to second (in channel), click over Medium and you should see same number as first report aggregate (for Referral entry) (Source/Medium) 


Same would be the case if you go to channel report, select Source/Medium as primary dimension and filter by referral.


Hope that helps.