How to import cost data in Google Analytics

Posted on Posted in Google Analytics

The data import feature in Google Analytics lets you import data such as campaign costs from non-Google platforms e.g. Bing or Facebook. This means you can use Google Analytics to compare the performance of non-Google platforms all in the same place and over the same metrics!

The good news is that it’s a quick job once you’ve got the hang of it!

How to Import Cost Data
  1. Click ‘Data Import’ in the Admin tab
  2. Select ‘Cost data’ from the range of import options

  3. Google Analytics Data Import Options

  4. Name your data set and select which views to add it to. We recommend that you first add it to your testing view so that you can check it’s appearing correctly before adding it to your main view.

  5. Choose the metrics (e.g. Clicks, CTR, Cost) and dimensions (e.g. Source, Medium etc.) that you would like to import into the system. Source, Medium and Date are automatically included for dimensions but you can then add other factors, such as Campaign (which you’ll always want to include) or Keywords. If the data is for Bing then you’d want to include Keywords and Ad Groups, but if this is social media data then you’ll just need to use Campaigns. If you want to be able to dive down further you could include dimensions like Destination URL, Ad Content and Display URL.

  6. Once this is saved, Google will give you the option to ‘Get Schema’ which provides you with the format that your data needs to be in. You can even download a CSV file to use. It’s fairly basic and you just need to populate it with the data exported from your chosen platform.

  7. We’d recommend that you export the data from your chosen platform segmented by day (where possible) as this will allow you to dig down into more specific date ranges.
  8. A peculiarity of this system is that it requires you to use the date format YYYYMMDD. To convert your dates into this format, you can use this basic Excel formula: =TEXT(cell,”YYYYMMDD”)
  9. You can now upload your file and Google will tell you immediately if there are any problems with it. If you’re having trouble at this stage please feel free to send me an email.

It can take up to 24 hours for the data to be populated in your view so don’t panic if it’s not there immediately.

Unfortunately this process can’t be automated, but once you’re familiar with the process it’ll only take a few minutes each month.

How to use Imported Cost Data in Google Analytics

Now that you’ve got your data into the platform you can start learning from it!

By having data from a range of channels you can start to review the performance of a specific campaign across the multiple channels to get an idea of the CPC and CPA. Particularly useful for this is the Attribution tools.

You can view this data in two sections of GA:

  • Acquisition > Campaigns > Cost Analysis
  • Conversions > Attribution

Cost Analysis
Here you can get a view of this data across these metrics:

This is also where you can dive down into any additional dimensions you might have included such as Destination URL. Through this you can start to compare CPC’s of different campaigns without having to mess around in Excel combining different data sets.

Attribution is a really powerful section of Google Analytics. If you’re not looking into attribution it’s something that you should seriously consider as it gives another perspective on the performance of campaigns rather than measuring everything on a last click model.

By including cost data for campaigns / channels we can now look at the CPA based on different attribution models. For example, we might find that the CPA for a campaign on Facebook is a lot higher than the same on Twitter, however, when we look at a Linear model we might find that Facebook actually plays a part in more conversions than Twitter does. Digging into the various CPAs across channels can help you understand where to invest money in the future.

If you’ve got any questions on how to use this tool then please drop us a line.

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