Import Your Ad Cost Data into GA for Better ROI Analysis

Google Analytics has always been pretty incredible in attributing users’ actions on your website to the marketing channels from whence they came. Add in the ability to track conversion value/revenue, multi-channel funnel analysis and now attribution modeling analysis for all users, our ability to tie revenue to your marketing channels has become a lot more sophisticated.

But that stuff alone doesn’t really allow us to tie ROI to your marketing channels for you to determine what’s working in your marketing efforts (and what’s not). Of course we need cost data in order to calculate against the revenue data.

Imported AdWords cost data has long given us a glimpse of this valuable ROI analysis. Assuming you have your AdWords and GA accounts properly linked and imported, you’ll find something like this in your “Traffic Sources -> Advertising -> AdWords” reports:

“Straight cash homey!”

This is the money shot. Literally. It’s one of my favorite views inside Google Analytics. Whether at the campaign level or down to a specific keyword, I can look at very specific ROI data.  And I love having CPC and RPC right next to each other.  I have cost-per-click versus how-much-I’m-willing-to-pay-per-click. Okay, the second one is of course revenue-per-click but the point is how you can actually interpret this.  You can look at RPC as one way to determine how high you’re willing to pay for your average cost per click.  In the example above if I’m paying $.61 per-click and getting $2.78 in return per-click, I’m going to strongly consider increasing my max bids in the hopes of increasing my volume to get more total revenue with hopefully minimal loss in ROI and margin.  And if my other keyword is costing me $.44 per-click but I’m only getting $.23 in return per-click, that’s my cue to tune down that junky keyword… or turn it off altogether.

That’s all fine and stuff for my AdWords advertising efforts, but we have so many other potential advertising channels that I want to do the same kind of analysis with:

  • Bing Ads
  • display / remarketing advertising
  • social advertising
  • affiliate advertising
  • direct relationship advertising.

The GA Cost Data Upload feature

This feature is Google’s response in allowing us to get this analysis with all of our paid marketing channels. The Cost Data Upload feature allows us to import the following dimensions of our paid advertising channels:

  • source
  • medium
  • campaign
  • adgroup
  • keyword
  • matched kw query
  • ad copy
  • referring URL
  • ad slot
  • ad position
  • display URL
  • destination URL

…as well as the following metrics:

  • cost
  • clicks
  • impressions

…and get magical reports like this!:

Google Analytics Cost Data Import

Excited animated gif

We all should have been using this feature already!

But we’re not. And you know why? Because it does take some complicated work to get the data in there. And sometimes we don’t like doing hard work.

I don't wanna work

So, aside from the technical instructions in the GA Cost Data Upload documentation I linked to earlier, here are a few different options to get this ROI goodness.

The semi-easy way

NEXT Analytics and Analytics Canvas are both incredible tools to use if you want to take GA analysis to the next level.  Plus, they come with features to simplify uploading your cost data into your GA accounts.  I call this the semi-easy way, though, because you still have to manually grab your cost data from your advertising sources, pre-format to the specs, technical blah blah blah.

GA is offering an API to push data.  Most of our advertising sources offer APIs to pull data.  In the world of API’s and smart programmers, it is much smarter to use an application that automates this process of pulling and pushing your cost data . You can either find some programmers to build this application for you, or you can use an already-built service that’s taken care of some of this.

The SUPER-easy way

Let me tell you a little about This is a tool built by some cool folks I know based out of the Chandler, AZ collaborative workspace Gangplank. offers a free tool to automate the process of connecting to your Bing and AdWords advertising cost data and importing it into GA (or even mixpanel!) feeds screenshot

Completely automated daily importing of my Bing Ads accounts into GA. YES!

Also, they keep teasing about adding other advertising data sources to pull cost data from, like Facebook, etc.  Perhaps if they get more users for their tool they’ll consider adding those features sooner. So, for my own selfish reasons, consider trying out the tool so I can benefit from these features 😉

I hope you all start taking more advantage of the Cost Data Upload feature in GA. And with recent feature upgrade in GA that integrates AdWords cost data into the attribution modeling tool, things are looking bright for comprehensive advertising ROI analysis in GA.

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