Cost Analysis in Google Analytics

If you start advertising in different services (Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Twitter, Instagram), then how can you estimate the results and efficiency of these campaigns? It’s possible to consider data in each single service, of course, but it’s at least inconvenient. And it’s necessary to maintain the goal settings in each account. In this article, we describe how to add data to a cost analysis report in Google Analytics and how to compare the profitability of different advertising channels. 

Having established an active connection between services, you’ll be able to measure the efficiency of advertising campaigns and make decisions accordingly.

What data on advertising campaigns goes into Google Analytics by default?

Only data from connected Google Ads accounts is available in Google Analytics by default. You can find more useful information about Google Analytics settings in our detailed instructions.

Google Analytics product linking

To pull in data from other services, you need to set up data importing. Further, we’ll describe different ways to do that: manually with a Google Sheets add-on or automatically with OWOX BI.

How to add data to an advertising cost analysis report in Google Analytics

There are several ways to import cost data. Your choice depends on two things:

  1. The number of advertising platforms with which you work

  2. How often you need a cost analysis report

If you need a report once a month and you’re using no more than 3 or 4 advertising services, then manually uploading data to Google Analytics won’t take a lot of time. It’s possible to do it:

If you know how to code, you can use a semi-automatic method of importing data with the help of Apps Script and the API from your advertising service. You can read about this approach on Ryan Praskievicz’s blog and on Google’s official site for developers.

Importing advertising cost data via the Google Analytics admin panel

The steps are quite simple: create a file in CSV format with the data obtained from your advertising service and load it into Google Analytics. The downside of this method is that every time you need a cost analysis report, you need to upload this data manually. 

Before loading the file in Google Analytics, it’s necessary to create a data set. For this purpose, we go to settings and click on Data Import in the admin panel.

data import menu

To create a new set:

  1. Choose Cost Data as the data set type.
Selecting data set type
  1. Enter a name for the data set and choose the view into which data will be loaded.
Entering data set details
  1. Define the schema for the data set (what parameters will be imported to Google Analytics): 
data set scheme

The following data set parameters are obligatory:

  • Medium
  • Source
  • Date (added when you press save)

It’s also necessary to choose at least one of the following options:

  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Cost
parameters of the data set scheme

And the last step – you can choose any number of the following parameters:​

Selecting parameters of the data set schema

Aside from options in the Advertising section, these parameters are:

  1. Acquisition:
    • Referral path
  2. Other:
    • Final URL
    • Creative line 2
    • Creative line 3

Note: A zero value will be assigned to null indicators. You can find more details in the official help center.

  1. Choose an action to perform when importing data.
import behavior options

Now Google Analytics is ready to load your CSV file with data. In the Data Import menu, choose Manage uploads for the data set with which you’re going to work.

manage uploads menu

Click the Upload File button and select the CSV file with your data. ​

upload file options

Note: The structure of the CSV file has to coincide with the structure of the data set. If you have any mistakes when importing data, you can look at the most probable causes of failure here.

Importing cost data from Google Sheets with the help of the free OWOX BI Data Upload Add-on

Excellent news — it’s possible to import advertising campaign data collected in Google Sheets directly to Google Analytics. For this purpose, you just need to install the free (!) OWOX BI Data Upload Add-on. 

This add-on can be installed from the Chrome Web Store or directly in Google Sheets from the Add-ons menu.

Installing the OWOX BI Data Upload Add-on in Google Sheets

To load data using the OWOX BI Data Upload Add-on:

  1. Create a data set in Google Analytics (you can find detailed instructions in the previous section above).
  2. Install the OWOX BI Data Upload Add-on in Google Sheets.
  3. Open your table with costs for advertising campaigns. (Note: The data structure has to be the same in the table and in Google Analytics.)
  4. In the Add-ons menu, choose OWOX BI Data Upload —> Upload data.
  5. In the side panel, choose an account, a resource, and the created data set to which you’re going to import data. Then press the Verify & Upload button.
upload data with OWOX BI add-on

Your cost data will be loaded! It’s the marketing specialist’s dream — all data is checked and loaded automatically in five simple steps! 

Note that when working with this add-on:

  • it isn’t necessary to prepare separate CSV files for data import
  • data is transferred directly
  • if there are mistakes in the structure of data, the add-on will indicate them and help you correct them.

Automatically import advertising expenses using OWOX BI Pipeline

If you track cost data more than once a week, you should set up automatic importing of data. It will allow you to avoid routine work and leave more time for decision-making. We recommend using OWOX BI Pipeline. Why? The data flow needs to be adjusted only once, after which the service will automatically transfer cost data and check it for mistakes.
You can use OWOX BI Pipeline to import cost data from many advertising systems including Facebook, Instagram, Criteo, AdRoll, Trafmag, Bing Ads, Twitter Ads, Sklik, Outbrain, Yahoo Gemini, and Hotline. Try it for free!


To get started, create a data set in Google Analytics. You can find detailed instructions above.

Follow these steps to set up automatic importing:

  1. Create a project in OWOX BI and set up a new pipeline from your advertising service.

pipeline creation with OWOX BI
  1. Choose where to load data (Google Analytics), and provide access to both your Google Analytics and advertising service accounts.

  2. Define a resource and a dataset to which costs will be imported. We’ve described how to create such a dataset above.

pipeline settings
  1. Choose a start date for importing data. The current date will be specified by default, but you can change it.

  2. After choosing a view in Google Analytics, press the Create button and — voilà — your data flow is set up!

Note: Your data flow from the advertising service will be loaded within 36 hours. Google Analytics will be processing data for the first 24 of those hours.

Where to look for advertising expenses in Google Analytics

Now that you’ve loaded cost data for advertising campaigns into Google Analytics, it’s possible to start your analysis. In the Acquisition / Campaigns section in the Cost Analysis report, it’s possible to look at the cost and profitability of advertising across a selection of channels.

Cost Analysis report in GA

To analyze data on advertising campaigns belonging to one source of traffic, choose, for example, Google/CPC. In the table, data on all loaded campaigns will appear:

advertising campaign report

Note: Additional data on the Cost Analysis report can be found in the official help center.

How to learn the profitability of advertising campaigns in Google Analytics (ROI/ROAS and calculated indicators)

To estimate and compare the efficiency of investments in advertising campaigns, the return on ad spend (ROAS) metric is used.

ROAS report

Thanks to ROAS, it’s possible to define whether a campaign was successful. Don’t forget that ROAS can be both positive and negative. If ROAS is higher than 100%, it means your advertising campaign is profitable.
Note: The ideal ROAS depends on your business. You can read more about ROAS, ROI, and tools for automating calculations in our detailed article on what is ROI. 

Regularly tracking ROAS helps you redistribute your advertising budget smartly. When you see a negative indicator, you’ll be able to quickly disconnect an unsuccessful campaign and increase the budget for campaigns with good results.

It’s desirable to control ROAS at least once a week. For big budgets, it’s good to control it daily. 

If standard indicators from the report (CTR, CPC, RPC, ROAS) are not enough, it’s possible to use calculated metrics. They’re created manually for special reports and widgets.

calculated metrics menu

Note: For one view, it’s possible to create up to five calculated metrics in Google Analytics and up to 50 in Google Analytics 360.

adding of a new calculated metric

To set up a new indicator, it’s necessary to fill out four fields. Pay attention: According to the rules of syntax in Google Analytics, double braces are used in the Formula field.

Currency conversion

One of the most widespread mistakes and headaches of marketing specialists when working with reports is incorrectly specified currency in a view.

By default, the US dollar is used in all Google Analytics views. However, in different advertising services, different currencies are used. So as not to make mistakes in calculations, it’s necessary either to standardize these values manually or automatically convert them with OWOX BI.

If you set up automatic importing of data with OWOX BI (which we considered before), in the last step additional settings are offered:

  1. VAT. In contrast to Google Ads, some services transfer cost data without VAT. To avoid mistakes, you can specify a VAT percentage for calculations in the cost analysis. You can change this percentage at any time in the settings tab for the page of your stream.

  2. Currency. The currency of an advertising service will be automatically converted in OWOX BI using API Open Exchange Rates.

You can also convert currency using the following formula:

{{Income}}*exchange rate

calculated metric - currency conversion

If other currency is used in your transactions, you should specify it as global. You can find the list of supported currencies here.

Key takeaways

To conveniently assess the success of advertising campaigns from different sources, it’s necessary to import advertising expenses into one service — for example, Google Analytics. This way you’ll be able to estimate the balance of expenses and revenue, monitor changes in real time, and disconnect inefficient campaigns. The most convenient way to do this is using OWOX BI, which automatically checks UTM tags and converts currency.

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  • Can I use cost analysis in Google Analytics for non-advertising campaigns?

    Yes, you can use cost analysis in Google Analytics for any campaign involving costs and revenue. For example, you can track the cost and revenue of your email marketing campaigns or influencer marketing campaigns.
  • What type of data can I see in cost analysis reports in Google Analytics?

    You can see several important metrics in cost analysis reports in Google Analytics, such as total cost, cost per click (CPC), cost per acquisition (CPA), return on ad spend (ROAS), and conversion rate. These metrics help you understand the cost-effectiveness of your advertising campaigns and make data-driven decisions to optimize them.
  • How do I set up cost analysis in Google Analytics?

    To set up cost analysis in Google Analytics, you will need to link your Google Analytics account with your advertising platforms like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or Bing Ads. Once linked, you can create cost analysis reports in Google Analytics and analyze the performance metrics of your ad campaigns.