Multi-Channel Funnels & Assists Coming To Google Analytics

Google Analytics NavigationFollowing the recent launch of Google Analytics v5, Google is launching (in limited pilot) an important set of reports that will help marketers understand which marketing channels customers interact with prior to a website conversion.

These reports are a natural evolution from Adwords Search Funnels, which helps understanding which Adwords campaigns drive conversions and which of those are helpful in assisting conversions.

With this update, Google is bringing the issue of conversion attribution to the masses. This subject has been discussed over and over on the Web Analytics community, but few companies could deal with it as the tools that provide this functionality are usually expensive.

According to Brian Clifton, former Head of Google Analytics EMEA, one of the reasons for Google Analytics being free is that it “proves the value of online advertising to potential new advertisers.” This feature looks very much in this spirit, it will provide a more transparent picture about online advertising as a whole.

This new set of reports will improve Google Analytics marketing measurement capabilities as it shows what really works in terms of online marketing campaigns, be it Adwords, Youtube, Facebook, banners or any other acquisition channel.

Note: Google Analytics has let us know that the feature called Multi-Channel Funnels discussed in this blog post is in limited pilot. That means that Google Analytics is testing the feature and its usefulness to a small group of trusted testers, and have not made any plans or a timeline for a full launch.

Let’s dig into the main highlights of Cross-Media Funnels and the reports available.

Cross-Channel Mix

Marketing Cross Channel Mix

The Cross-Channel Mix is a great visualization on the interaction between a website’s acquisition channels. It can be found in the Overview tab (inside Conversions, click on Cross-Media Funnels) and it shows a Venn Diagram with each circle being a traffic medium (Paid Advertising, Organic Search, direct, etc); we can decide which mediums will be displayed.

On the image above, we can see that 0.21% (8 conversions) were from visitors that visited the website using both Direct, Paid Advertising & Referral in the last 30 days.

Assisted Conversions

Assisted Conversions

This report can be found under the Assisted Conversions tab. According to the report help:

This report shows how many conversions were assisted by each channel (Assisted Conversions), how many were completed by each channel (Last Interaction Conversions), and value of these conversions (Assisted Conversion Value and Last Interaction Conversion Value). The ratio of Assisted/Last Interaction Conversions shows whether the channel primarily assisted conversions (values of 1.5 and higher) or completed conversions (values approaching 0).

This view can be changed (above the scorecard) to “First Interaction Analysis” which will show how each channel performed as an initiator of conversions, i.e. the number of conversions for which each channel was the first interaction on the conversion path.

Assist Interactions

Assist Conversion Interaction

This report can be found under the Assisted Interactions tab. According to Google, this report shows:

The number of assist and/or final conversion interactions from conversions that have been counted so far. If additional conversions occur, the interactions from their associated conversion paths will be added. For example, this channel may be assisting a conversion that hasn’t yet happened. Once the conversion occurs, the number of interactions from this channel will be increased. As a result, the number of interactions may be larger the next time you look at this report.

Top Paths

Google Analytics Top Paths

This report is very straightforward, it shows the conversion paths that led to conversions, the number of conversions from each path, and the value of those conversions.

This can be very interesting when analyzing the customer buying cycle. For example, a company advertising in multiple channels might see that Google Display Network or Facebook advertising is driving many first time interactions (branding) which leads to second interactions using branding search terms and, ultimately, purchases coming from direct traffic source.

Time Lag

Google Analytics time lag

As we can see in the screenshot above, the Time Lag report shows us the number of conversions resulted from conversion paths that were x days long.

Path Length

Google Analytics Path Length

This report shows the number of conversions resulted from conversion paths that contained x channel interactions. This will show how many touch points the customer goes through before converting.

Video: Using Multi-Channel Funnels In Google Analytics

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Closing Thoughts

In summary, this is a massive feature that upgrades the tool, a much wanted capability that is currently lacking in the Web Analytics market.

Related Topics: Channel: Analytics | Features: General | Google: Analytics | Top News


About The Author: is the Founder of Conversion Journey, a Google Analytics Certified Partner. He is also the founder of Online Behavior, a Marketing Measurement & Optimization website. You can follow him on Google+ or Twitter.

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  • George Michie

    Great write-up, Daniel. This is a terrific product at a great price. I would caution folks that “assists” can be highly misleading if not considered with eyes wide open. I fleshed out those arguments over at RKG Blog:

  • Krinal Mehta

    Much of it seems to be coming from Google’s acquisition of HubSpot. Anyone agrees ?

  • searchengineman

    Hmmm..I wonder if Google will allow us to tweak the Data to Weight the Assists? (Not all assists being equal)

    Does this mean Google is going to scrap the Remarketing feature in favor of this method in Adwords UI – Seems like this analytics feature treads on that function.


  • Michael Martinez

    I am SO looking forward to Google Analytics 6 (SIX). I stopped using the beta because it’s basically useless at this point.

    How they could make something barely usable even less usable is beyond me. Who is advising them on how to design metrics for Website performance? You have less drill-down, you can’t even click on the referring sites, AND THERE’S NO WAY TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK.

  • A.M.

    You’ve got to love a thorough review on a powerful product enhancement, especially when its Google’s: thanks! Multi-channel analytics can increase insight by orders of magnitude: as a company that delivers actionable data to marketers, often using third-party analytics tools like Google’s, we’re always thrilled to see more of it :) Thanks again for the useful review!

  • Jeremy Templer

    Can we anticipate some transparency as to how assist conversion values are calculated? Will the sales value be equally apportioned across all marketing program touch-points within the cookie window, for instance? I’ve not found anyone at Google who can or will answer that question regarding the Assist conversion values reported within AdWords. It seems to me at least that understanding how that value is calculated is fundamental to appropriate usage.

  • chao

    Hi Jeremy,

    Assisted conversions for a given channel represent all conversions where that channel was a non-last interaction, and the Assisted Conversion Value is just the total value associated with those conversions. Note that these count whole conversions and don’t do any value splitting or weighted attribution, so there can be double-counting if you look across rows or look across assisted and last conversions. The data only describes how many conversions had those channels as a non-last interaction, and doesn’t prescribe credit. It’s still up to the person interpreting the data to experiment with various assumptions to improve overall ROI using these new metrics.

    Please refer to (specifically the Assisted Conversion Value section) for more details.


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