Much like direct traffic, branded queries often occur when a searcher learns of your brand through a previous marketing effort, communication, or product search – and this makes optimization of your non-branded channel a bit more complex. If branded search is truly the result of a previous marketing effort, such as a non-branded search campaign, then it’s important to properly align non-branded marketing expenses with the branded sales which were impacted by that spend. Luckily, there’s an easy way to improve search attribution by re-attributing those sales which were closed by branded that really should be credited to non-branded.
The Status Quo
Google Analytics provides both custom channel groupings and multi-channel funnels reporting, which can be used to re-attribute sales that were credited to branded but were actually impacted by non-branded. However, these methods have two drawbacks:
1) neither functions with the Google Analytics API (at least, not in the way this analysis requires); and
2) these are fairly manual processes which will need to be repeated regularly. That’s a tall order for any business owner who is also handling all of the marketing.
There is actually a much easier method for re-attributing these sales which will also function with the Google Analytics API, and thus, can become a fully automated component of your regular account analysis; the utm_nooverride=1 parameter.
How The New Parameter Works
Essentially the utm_nooverride=1 parameter tells Google Analytics not to overwrite the existing referral data for a visitor. So if a visitor previously came to the website via a non-branded search ad, then returns via a branded search ad, rather than attributing the new session to the branded ad, the utm_nooverride=1 parameter tells Google Analytics to instead attribute this session to the previous one – in this case the non-branded search ad. If this user converts during this session, the conversion will be attributed to the non-branded search ad – the previous source.
There are two steps to implementation. First, append the ‘?utm_nooverride=1’ parameter to the final ad URL on all branded ads. Do not append the tag to all ads – only branded URLs. Your URLs should appear as domain.com/?utm_nooverride=1. Next, enable the manual tagging override setting in Google Analytics (if you are using AdWords auto-tagging).