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  • Abhishek Karnik

What is not considered a Default Medium in Google Analytics

What is not considered a Default Medium in Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a powerful tool used by digital marketers and website owners to understand their audience better. By tracking various metrics, it provides insights that help in refining marketing strategies and improving website performance. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what Default Mediums are, how they work, and crucially, what is not considered a Default Medium in Google Analytics.

What is a Default Medium in Google Analytics?

In Google Analytics, a "medium" refers to the general category of the source through which traffic arrives at your website. The Default Mediums are predefined categories that Google Analytics uses to classify incoming traffic. These categories help you understand how visitors are finding your site, whether through search engines, direct visits, referral sites, or specific campaigns.

The most common Default Mediums in Google Analytics include:

Organic: This medium includes traffic from search engines that is not paid for. When a user clicks on a non-paid search engine result to land on your site, Google Analytics records this as "organic" traffic.

CPC (Cost Per Click) or Paid: 

Traffic that comes through paid search campaigns, such as Google Ads, is categorized under CPC. This medium helps you track the effectiveness of your paid search efforts.


When visitors come to your site from another site by clicking on a link, it is categorized as "referral" traffic. This excludes major search engines and direct traffic.


This is assigned to direct traffic where the visitor either types your URL directly into their browser, uses a bookmark, or clicks on a link from an email or offline document.


This medium is used for traffic that comes from email marketing campaigns where tracking parameters are properly set up.

How to Create Custom Mediums

Creating custom mediums involves using UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) parameters. These are tags added to the URL that track where the traffic originates from. For example, if you are running a podcast ad that directs listeners to your site, you might use a UTM parameter like utm_medium=podcast to identify this specific medium.

Why Use Custom Mediums?

Campaign Specific Tracking: 

If you are running multiple marketing campaigns across different channels, custom mediums can help you track each campaign's performance separately, even if they are all under broader categories like CPC or referral.

Non-Traditional Sources: 

For traffic sources that are not automatically recognized by Google Analytics or don't fit into Default Mediums, such as traffic from a mobile app or a PDF document, custom mediums provide a way to ensure these are accurately categorized.

Improved Segmentation: 

Custom mediums allow for better segmentation of traffic, which can lead to more targeted analysis and improved marketing strategies.

Scenarios Where Custom Tagging is Beneficial

Influencer Collaborations: 

When collaborating with influencers, tagging the URLs they share with a custom medium like utm_medium=influencer can help track the direct impact of their audience on your website traffic.

Offline Marketing: 

For offline campaigns such as events or print ads, using custom mediums like utm_medium=print or utm_medium=event can help track the effectiveness of these efforts in driving online traffic.

Cross-Channel Marketing: 

If you operate across multiple platforms, custom tagging can help differentiate the traffic coming from each platform, even within the same campaign.

Common Misconceptions about Medium Tagging

While Default Mediums in Google Analytics are straightforward, there are several common errors and misconceptions that can lead to misclassification of traffic:

Social Media Traffic: 

Often, traffic from social media is incorrectly tagged or not tagged at all, causing it to fall under 'referral' or other Default Mediums. Properly tagging social media traffic with utm_medium=social ensures it is accurately categorized.

Misclassifying CPC Traffic: 

Paid traffic needs to be tagged with utm_medium=cpc to differentiate it from organic traffic. Without proper tagging, paid traffic might incorrectly appear as organic, leading to skewed data and potentially misguided decisions.


Relying solely on Default Mediums in Google Analytics can lead to overgeneralized data. Custom mediums allow for more detailed tracking, tailored to the specifics of your marketing strategy.

What is Not Considered a Default Medium in Google Analytics?

Understanding what is not considered a Default Medium in Google Analytics is crucial for setting up proper tracking and getting accurate data about your traffic sources. Here are some examples of what is not classified under Default Mediums:


While many might think 'social' is a default medium, in Google Analytics, social traffic needs to be specifically tagged unless the platform automatically segregates it as 'social'. For example, clicks from Facebook or Twitter are often automatically tagged, but this is not a universal rule across all social media platforms.

Custom Mediums: 

Any traffic that does not fit into the standard Default Mediums needs to be tagged with UTM parameters. For instance, if you are running a specific type of partnership campaign and want to track it separately, you would use a custom medium like "partnership" rather than relying on the default options provided by Google Analytics.


Traffic within your own site, such as navigation from one page to another, is not considered a medium at all. Google Analytics does not track internal traffic as a medium because it does not represent a source of traffic to the website.


Offline channels that bring traffic to your website, such as QR codes or print media, are not automatically recognized by Google Analytics as a Default Medium. These require specific tagging, often using custom UTM parameters, to be tracked effectively.

Non-web Sources: 

Traffic that may come from mobile apps or software that does not naturally pass referrer data is not considered a Default Medium. To track this kind of traffic, explicit tagging and sometimes integration with other analytics tools are necessary.

Integrating Medium Data with Other Google Analytics Data

1. Medium Data and Campaigns

Campaign tracking is integral to understanding the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. By integrating medium data with campaign data, you can observe how different traffic sources contribute to campaign success. For instance, you might discover that traffic from a particular medium like 'email' leads to higher engagement in a promotional campaign compared to 'social' traffic.

To make this integration effective:

Use UTM parameters to tag your campaigns consistently across mediums.

Analyze the performance by medium within the context of each campaign to see which mediums are most effective for different types of campaigns.

2. Medium Data and Content

Content performance analysis can be significantly enhanced by examining how different mediums affect engagement and behavior metrics. For example, understanding which mediums bring users that have high interaction rates with your content can help tailor your content strategy to leverage those mediums more effectively.

Integrative strategies include:

Segmenting content reports by medium to evaluate which types of content perform best for each traffic source.

Using Google Analytics' behavior flow to track how users from different mediums interact with your site’s content.

3. Medium Data and Conversions

Conversions are the ultimate metric of success for many digital marketing efforts. Integrating medium data with conversion metrics allows you to see not just where users are coming from, but which sources are driving valuable actions.

Strategies for integration:

Setting up goals in Google Analytics and viewing performance by medium to understand which channels convert best.

Utilizing multi-channel funnels to see how different mediums contribute to conversion paths, providing insight into the role each medium plays in the conversion process.

Advanced Tools and Techniques for Customizing and Tracking Mediums

1. UTM Parameters

UTM parameters are the most powerful tool available for customizing and tracking mediums in Google Analytics. They allow you to append tags to URLs that track where the traffic comes from, the campaign, and the content type. This makes it possible to get very granular with how you view the performance of different mediums.

2. Google Tag Manager (GTM)

Google Tag Manager can simplify the management of tracking codes and UTM parameters. It allows you to deploy and update tag configurations quickly without altering the code on your website. This can be particularly useful for dynamic or large-scale campaigns where multiple mediums and parameters are involved.

3. Advanced Segments

Advanced segments in Google Analytics let you isolate and analyze specific types of traffic. By creating segments for different mediums, you can compare the behavior of users coming from different sources more directly and accurately.

4. Custom Reports and Dashboards

Creating custom reports and dashboards that focus on the performance of different mediums can help you better visualize and share the results of your integration efforts. These tools can be set up to display key metrics by medium, campaign, content type, and conversion rate, providing a comprehensive overview at a glance.

Why Understanding Non-Default Mediums is Important

Knowing what is not considered a Default Medium in Google Analytics is important because it affects how you interpret your data and make decisions based on it. Misinterpretations can lead to misguided strategies that might not be effective in achieving your business objectives.

Moreover, understanding and utilizing custom mediums allows for more detailed tracking of specific campaigns or initiatives. This capability can lead to deeper insights and more targeted optimizations, making your marketing efforts more effective and efficient.


Default Mediums in Google Analytics are fundamental in categorizing and understanding where your traffic comes from. However, recognizing what does not fall under these Default Mediums is equally important. By properly tagging and tracking non-default sources, you can gain a more comprehensive view of your traffic sources and better optimize your overall marketing strategy.

In this guide, we've discussed the basics of Default Mediums in Google Analytics and what falls outside of this category. Remember, accurate data leads to better decisions, and understanding both default and non-default mediums is key to making informed marketing choices.

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