In a previous post about campaign tagging for inbound links from emails, we saw that the three values that Google Analytics uses by default for Medium – that is, the medium through which visitors arrive on your site – are organic, referral, and (none) for direct traffic.
CPC traffic (“cost-per-click”, also referred to as PPC, “pay-per-click”) is analogous to traffic from inbound links from emails to the extent that Google Analytics does not record a special Medium value for either type of traffic by default. As with email links, we need to make sure that CPC traffic arrives with a Medium value of its own.
It’s not surprising that Google allows data-rich campaign tracking for AdWords traffic to your site. Autotagging provides not only the usual three campaign values for Medium (“cpc” for Autotagged AdWords traffic), Source, and Campaign, but also a range of additional data such as keyword, paid ranking, and cost data. From within the Google AdWords interface, you can link AdWords to your Google Analytics profiles and then verify AdWords Cost Source within the Profile Settings.
Conversely to AdWords, and also not surprisingly, there’s no real equivalent to AdWords Autotagging for other CPC sources, such as paid Bing listings (or any other paid source). For this reason, you should make sure that inbound links from all other paid campaigns contain the manual Medium, Source and Campaign tags, which the Google URL Builder tool can help you configure.
You may also be able to include non-AdWords cost data by using the new Google Analytics Cost Data Import Tool.
Circling back to the introduction of this discussion, what happens if you don’t Autotag or campaign-tag inbound links from paid search engine listings? All resulting traffic is recorded with the “organic” Medium value, which does not help you evaluate the performance of paid traffic.