It is now possible to upload cost data from external advertising sources into Google Analytics, permitting consolidated reporting of all you advertising costs and their effectiveness. This enables reporting of data not collected through traditional Google Analytics tracking or UTM tagging. For example, you can upload ad cost, ad clicks, and impressions for Bing and Yahoo! Ads, Facebook Ads, and LinkedIn advertising.
NEXT takes the hassle out of the process. Starting with the raw files downloaded from other systems, NEXT handles the pre-processing into the formats required, and then handles the upload of advertising costs into your Google Analytics account.
Unlike other services, NEXT has no limits to the number of accounts you can upload to from a single license. It is also possible to process a whole month at one time, even uploading historical cost data. NEXT puts you in control.
The process can be summarized into 4 easy steps:
- Set up a custom data source in Google Analytics
- Download the ad cost data from your alternate service (Bing, facebook, LinkedIn, etc)
- Pre-process the data to conform to Google’s required upload format
- Upload the data into your Google Analytics account
Setting Up The Custom Data Source
Google Analytics provides a user interface to create a custom data source. At the time of writing this (circa mid-October 2012), the steps were this:
- Visit Google Analytics and sign-in
- Navigate to the Admin
- Select the Account and then Web Property for which you want to create a custom data source.
- Select the Custom Definitions tab and then the Custom Data Source tab.
- Click New Custom Data Source
- Provide a Name and Description for the Custom Data Source
- The Type can only be set to ‘Cost’
- Select which Profiles to link to the Custom Data Source. The Cost Data for this source will appear in the selected Profiles reports.
Note: At least one profile should be linked to a custom data source so that uploaded data is available for reporting purposes..
Download Your Ad Cost Data
The data to be uploaded would be exported to a data file from any advertising services that provides spend, impressions, and/or clicks data for you to analyze. This includes but is not limited to:
- Bing ads (formerly Microsoft adCenter); or
- Facebook Ads; or
- LinkedIn Ads; or
- Anything that provides spend, impressions, and/or click information
The file should be in either tab delimited (with a .txt file extension) or CSV format (with a .csv file extension). CAUTION: if you edit these files with Microsoft Excel, be sure to save them as CSV (MS-DOS) format.
Pre-Process the Data
The data file will have been exported from a system that doesn’t conform to what Google Analytics allows to be uploaded. More than likely, there are several aspects to the file that will need to be modified. For example:
- Often, the header and detail records do not start on the first record, so the leading lines need to be excluded.
- Sometimes there are trailing text lines that are not valid data, and these need to be excluded.
- Dates need to be parsed and converted to a format that’s accepted (2012-12-31).
- It will likely have columns in it that need to be excluded from the upload.
- Some required fields such as ga:medium and ga:source might be missing from the file and need to be provided.
- The column names that are to be uploaded will need to be altered to match the terminology required by Google Analytics
- Some data might benefit from being normalized, to make it more comparable to other data that’s already in Google Analytics.
- Some data might benefit from being aggregated, to make it less detailed so it can be comparable to other data that’s in Google Analytics.
NEXT has features built-in that address these requirements. When you are working with an exported file, you can also use NEXT Analytics features prior to it being uploaded to fine tune the data in an automated way. For example, you can:
- Use the “Fix” operation to change the data before uploading. If your Bing campaign names weren’t aligned with your adWords campaign names, this is your chance to correct them prior to upload.
- Filter the data. For example, you could remove click or spend or impression events that were below a threshold or used with a test campaign.
All of your operations, performed once, are recorded. The same steps can be automatically re-executed each reporting period.
Perform the Upload
NEXT lets you step through the upload and record it in the same way, so the process can be repeated day after day, or week after week, or month after month, depending on how often you want to process the data. You specify the date column, and have the option of specifying a source and medium value for the entire file, or include them in the file for line-by-line control.
By default, NEXT will replace previous uploads, allowing you to repeat an upload that did not complete or contained erroneous data. NEXT allows you to override this setting, appending up to 19 more uploads to the original data set; useful if you have a lot of data to upload.
After performing the Upload, your data will be available for queries. The entire process is repeatable because it’s all been automatically recorded and a script created in two workbooks.
- At the end of the next reporting period, export the data for the new date range and replace the file you previously worked with, and
- Refresh the first workbook to perform the conversion actions on the new data.
- Refresh the second workbook to perform the data upload
NEXT worked closely with Cardinal Path, a Google Analytics Certified Partner to prepare a case study involving Natural Wellbeing on how they could gain more insight into their online marketing efforts by importing PPC data sources such as Bing adCenter, Facebook, LinkedIn among others into Google Analytics using NEXT Analytics v5.