Here at LDA, we love Google Analytics. And as much as is possible, we try to make Google Analytics the “hub” of all our marketing activities. What I mean is that we like Google Analytics to be the core reporting tool across all channels and all ad networks.
Take a look at the sample Google Analytics report below:
How’s that for a simple, yet powerful report? Why? At a single glance, we can compare various mediums and determine their contributions to our marketing mix. What we notice:
- Affiliate seems like a really efficient medium. We’re pulling back 3:1 on ad costs.
- CPC (google + bing) and retargeting is pulling back more than 2:1
- Channels such as email and organic search which incur little or no costs (none in this example) are running well too
In short, we get a summary of revenue and associated-costs, no guessing! Whether you’re top-level management or in the trenches, having a central place to quickly analyze mediums, ad networks, campaigns, etc. is key to effectively managing marketing spend. Without it, you’re driving blind.
The Challenge: Importing Cost Data Into Google Analytics
With the exception of Google Ad products (ie Google Adwords), there are no ad networks which “automatically” send campaign data (clicks, costs, etc.) to Google Analytics. In the report above, we wouldn’t have most of that cost data without some type of import.
For Google Adwords, this is built-in and is a default setting. You’re likely advertising in other places too though. Some examples of types of campaigns which you might run where you’ll need to import cost and campaign data.
- Bing Ads: A lot of advertisers love Bing. Mostly though, they don’t import cost data to Google so the sample report above would be innaccurate
- Facebook Ads: Facebook is a great ad platform if used wisely. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t plug-n’play nicely into Google Analytics without a little help!
- Affiliate Marketing: Run an affiliate program? Same thing, no way to link your affiliate commissions and costs without importing the data.
That means that this data from all these campaigns needs to be imported, which is what we want to shed some light on today.
Options for Importing “Other” Ad Network Data Into Google Analytics
There are 2 primary ways which we can use to import this data. The first, our favorite, is a one-time setup and the data flows for life. The second, a manual process, is always a good backup plan.
Option 1: Google Analytics’ API
Google Analytics offers an API which can be used to “send” campaign cost data to GA which will then import that data into your account. The main advantage is that, once setup, the data will import daily automatically and you won’t ever need to spend time on it again. Wahoo!
Power My Analytics
Don’t freak out! You need not be a programmer to get this setup correctly. We use a great service called Power My Analytics which anyone can setup in about 10 minutes.
What It Does
- Connects your Google Analytics account to BingAds, Facebook, Yahoo Gemini, and about 10 other services
- Runs daily to send campaign data of your choosing to Google Analytics
Why we love this service is that it bridges the gap to provide updated cost and revenue analysis for almost all ad networks at your fingertips. We also love it because if you have trouble with setup, a quick support ticket and they’ll often do it for you (or hold your hand until you get it right).
For 95% of importing needed, we use Power My Analytics. For the rest, see option 2 below.
Option 2: Manually Importing Ad Cost Data to Google Anaytics
Option 2 is much less sexy but sometimes necessary. Option 2 is a case where you (or one of your minions) can export campaign data from any ad network you use and import it into Google Analytics. This is sometimes necessary in cases where the ad network is very small, cost data is stored offline, etc. Examples:
- Affiliate: Let’s say you work with an affiliate network who promotes your website. In many cases, there will be no existing Google Analytics integration from their network so you’ll need to import costs.
- SEO (organic search): Let’s say you pay an SEO company $1,000 per month to promote your website. This cost is typically handled through invoice so you’ll need to manually import it if you want to include that cost in your data analysis
- Retargeting & Display: If you’re retargeting (we hope you are!) through a network other than Google, pretty good change that you’ll need to import this data too. If you do display ads (we hope you’re not!), same thing.
How It Works?
The manual import of Google Analytics cost data is basically a process that looks like this. You may need a tech-savvy friend to help you with this one:
- Set up the import mapping (Google Analytics configuration). Here, you’ll tell Google Analytics what you’re going to import each time.
- Export campaign data from network X. In this step, you’ll create a spreadsheet containing the cost data
- Upload the ad network export (from step #2) and import it to Google Analytics.
Each time you want to import data (daily, monthly, longer…), you’ll just need to repeat step 2 + step3. Who better than Google to explain the process. Not rocket science, just a process…
The manual import of data is just that, manual. We avoid it at all costs if possible but sometimes it’s just not possible to do things any other way.
Hopefully you’re able to implement one or the other and if you are, the outcome is a marketing analyst’s dream come true. Any number of Google Analytics custom reports will make it possible for you to analyze advertising efforts (ROAS) by campaign, ad network, day of week, and the list goes one. The key, is getting the data to flow the way you need it to so that budgeting and decision making time is productive and data based.
Having trouble, post questions below!
Rick Maggio brings over 15 years of tactical, hands-on experience managing digital advertising campaigns both small and large. Rick has worked in agency-land and on large in-house marketing teams and loves sharing his extensive experience with the LDA community.