Aq: Acquisition Reports in Google Analytics


How are you acquiring users and traffic to your site?

view the periodic table of Google analytics 4

Today, we talk about acquisition reports in Google Analytics.


ACQUISITION: The acquisition reports are what drew me to Google Analytics, and as we go through these Acquisition elements, you'll see there is good reason why. These reports are insightful and empowering for any marketer who is tasked with driving traffic to your website.

The first question that the reports answer: how did our website visitors find us?

We will learn about search traffic, referrals, and direct visitors. If you have ever wondered what the terms in a traffic report mean, then stay tuned. We also help you understand how you can make these reports much more useful using campaign tracking.


ACQUISITION REPORTS: “The where?” – learn how people are finding your site.

The acquisition reports in Google Analytics is a “broader” element that gives us an overview of this section of Google Analytics. The subsequent elements under the category “Acquisition” are “narrower” elements exploring a higher level of detail within the section.

In the acquisition reports, data can tell us who are the visitors to our website. And more importantly, how did they get there?

Data from these reports will show if the visitors are coming from a direct URL link, social media, email marketing efforts, search engines, or other sources.

These different traffic sources are aggregated into channels. We'll look at channels more closely in a later video.

Acquisition reports also show your ads performance if you're using Google Adwords. SEO and social media reports can also be found in the acquisition reports.

What’s New in Google Analytics 4?

You’ll notice some big changes to the acquisition reports in Google Analytics 4. Now, the acquisition category is divided into three sections. You can see an overview of all acquisition data or a breakdown by user or traffic source.

In Universal Analytics, the acquisition section has more options out of the gate. You can see an overview or click on any of the listed traffic sources from the main reporting menu. But because all your data is categorized by user or traffic source in GA4, information is clearer and easier to access in the new platform.

Another change you’ll notice is that, in Universal Analytics, your acquisition section contained charts that boasted a “behavior” section. In there, you see familiar metrics like bounce rate and conversions, and you also have metrics based on session.

These were the only indicators UA offered in terms of how users were engaging with your site after landing there. But one of the big flaws in the previous version of Analytics is that it doesn’t look at engagement, which is an area GA4 focuses on.

In the new version, you see engagement actions that help you understand the path of your user once they landed on your site and their meaningful actions. Your “user acquisition” section looks at user engagement and the “traffic acquisition” section looks at session engagement. Remember that a user can have multiple engaged sessions, so this distinction helps you look at your acquisition data in several different ways and unlock valuable insights.

Once you’re inside the various tabs of your GA4 acquisition report, you can hover over your graphs for more information, and you can customize these reports with comparisons (similar to “segments” in UA).

You can also customize your acquisition report tables to show any events or conversions you want to track back to a source. Just interact with the graph at the bottom of the various tabs in your acquisition report.

Speaking of insights, another big change in GA4 is the addition of automated insights, which will automatically track trends and changes for you. You’ll see ones related to your user and traffic acquisition, like what source drove the most traffic that week.

Your insights are tracked automatically in GA4, and it’s a big step-up in terms of valuable data for this new platform. You can also set up custom insights in GA4 to track specific behavior and trends.

Skill level

Beginner to advanced. Many will find the acquisition reports in Google Analytics helpful even after many years of using it. The knowledge to be gained is valuable for everyone.


  1. Drill down into each channel groupings. The reporting at the channel level is not detailed enough to give you useful information. You'll need to explore further down to see each specific traffic source.
  2. Check the default settings on channel groupings. The default channel grouping may be misleading as the information may not be what is useful for you, or very accurate.
  3. Block out referral spam. Or make sure the referral traffic sources are legitimate. Ensure that these referrals are traffic you would like to track.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons
Scroll to Top