How to Use Adobe Analytics to Analyze the Success of Your Marketing Channels - dummies

How to Use Adobe Analytics to Analyze the Success of Your Marketing Channels

By David Karlins

Adobe Analytics is a powerful tool for uncovering you audience. As a data analyst, you will inevitably need a considerably detailed view into the channels driving visitors to your site. The marketing channel dimension in Adobe Analytics provides a complete view into each of the categorizes of referrers and ads that drive traffic to your site or app.

Adobe Analytics marketing channel dimension is built on a custom set of rules defined in your report suite’s Admin Console. These rules are called the marketing channel processing rules. You would be smart to sync with your Adobe Analytics admins to understand how these rules have been defined and, if possible, even help decide how they are set up and prioritized.

Identifying marketing channel dimensions in Adobe Analytics

By default, Analysis Workspace has six marketing channel dimensions. To keep things simple, they are grouped into two sets: channel and channel detail.

Marketing channel, last touch channel, and first touch channel are the dimensions associated with a higher granularity bucketing of visits, often containing values of paid search, natural search, email, display, social networks, and referring domains. These dimensions are defined by the first drop-down in the channel settings within a rule set.

The key difference between the three channel dimensions is tied to attribution: Which value, over time, should apply to the corresponding metrics? The following presents a simple example to help you grasp the concept:

Visit Number Channel Action
1 Display Banner Click Research
2 Paid Search Purchase

Note how the table describes two separate visits, the first driven from display and the second driven from paid search. The head of advertising will want to know whether to put the budget for next quarter in display or paid search. As an analyst, you will want to attribute the revenue to one of those two channels, but which one?

For years, analysts have been using a last touch attribution model to associate the revenue to paid search. In this model, whichever channel is the most recent deserves 100 percent of the credit for the revenue.

In this instance, the advertisers responsible for display would argue that the visitor wouldn’t have even known about the brand without their display-driven awareness campaign, so they should deserve 100 percent of the credit. This approach is known as first touch attribution.

As you may have guessed, the last touch channel attributes metrics to the channel value by using a last touch attribution model. The first touch channel attributes metrics by using a first touch attribution model.

When Adobe released Attribution IQ, a powerful way of changing the attribution model of any metric tied to any dimension, they were concerned that the dimensions of last touch channel and first touch channel could be misleading, because technically the last touch channel could be tied to metrics where the attribution model has been adjusted to first touch!

To resolve this potential conflict, Adobe created a more generic marketing channel dimension. Marketing channel has a default attribution of last touch, but doesn’t carry the confusing last touch name distinction because metrics are more customizable now.

The best practice is to always use (or migrate your old projects to use) marketing channel and ignore the first touch and last touch dimensions.

The second set of dimensions created by marketing channel processing rules are set by the value in each rule set, which is the second drop-down in the channel settings. Marketing channel detail, last touch channel detail, and first touch channel detail provide a more detailed view into the channel.

These dimensions are set to capture the keyword for paid search, the campaign name for display, or the search engine for natural search. Because these values are customizable, be sure to work with your Adobe admin team to see how each channel’s value is set in the marketing channel processing rules for each of your report suites.

Adobe Analytics provides three separate channel detail dimensions just as they provide three channel dimensions: first touch, last touch, and marketing channel detail. Marketing channel detail is a duplicate of last touch channel detail and is similarly less confusing when new Attribution IQ models are applied to it. Therefore, the best practice is the same as with marketing channel: Use (or start migrating to) marketing channel detail.

The image below shows the marketing channel dimension, further broken down by marketing channel detail.

Adobe Analytics marketing channel detail
Breaking down marketing channel by channel detail.

Defining your marketing channels in Adobe Analytics

Marketing channel processing rules are defined using a combination of dimensions based on referrer, search engine, query parameter, page, any eVar, and more.

Be careful! Processing rules are permanent, so be sure to avoid accidents when adjusting them in Adobe Analytics.

If your report suite isn’t yet capturing data in the marketing channel dimension, Adobe will suggest a default set of rules the first time an admin accesses their settings (available in Admin Console → Report Suites → Edit Settings → Marketing Channels).

Adobe Analytics marketing channel rules
The automatic setup screen to define marketing channel rules.

A report suite’s marketing channel processing rules are comprised of three key elements. Only an administrator can edit them, but you should understand their capabilities:

  • Rule sets contain one or more rules to set a value for a marketing channel and channel detail dimension. Each rule set defines a single value to the channel dimension and a single value to the channel detail dimension.
  • Rules define how visits should be bucketed into the channel and channel detail dimensions based on conditions that you define. For example, a rule’s condition could be configured to identify whether a visit’s referrer is from a search engine.
  • Processing order is a well-named component of marketing channel processing rules because it defines the priority of each rule set. As soon as a visit matches a rule set, the visit’s channel and channel detail are set based on that rule set. For example, you may have one rule set that defines paid search (based on a search engine referrer and the existence of a CID query parameter) and a second rule set that defines natural search (based only on the existence of a search engine referrer). If the rule set for natural search is prioritized above the rule set for paid search, the paid search channel will never be set because all search engine visits, regardless of the existence of the query parameter, will be bucketed as natural search.
Adobe Analytics marketing channel setup
A helpful visualization on the marketing channel processing rule setup page to show how prioritization works.