About default channels


Piwik PRO automatically assigns your incoming traffic to five different channels based on data available in the page URL and referer HTTP header. These are the default channels, which you can easily group into custom channels.

In this article, we’ll explain how we define default channels and how we recognize them.

Default channel definitions

Here’s a list of channels and their definitions. Definitions can help you set up custom channel groupings.

Default channel Definition

Source = value from the campaign source (pk_source, utm_source or a custom parameter)

Medium = value from the medium source (pk_medium, utm_medium or a custom parameter)

Note: Detected if the URL contains campaign parameters (utm_*, pk_* or a custom one) or the Google Click ID parameter (gclid).

Direct entry

Source = direct

Medium = direct

Search engine

Source = detected search engine name

Medium = organic

Social (1)

Source = detected social media platform name

Medium = organic


Source = referrer domain name

Medium = referral

  1. The social channel is available in version 16.11.0 and higher. In earlier versions, it’s part of the website channel.

How Piwik PRO detects a channel

When Piwik PRO receives a tracking request, it checks the page URL and referer HTTP header to detect the source of the tracking. This check may include one or more of the steps described below.

Step 1: Campaign

Piwik PRO checks for campaign name parameters (utm_campaign, pk_campaign or custom ones) and the Google Click ID parameter (gclid) in the page URL. When it detects these parameters, it categorizes the channel as Campaign, the source as the value from the campaign source (pk_source, utm_source or custom) and the medium as the value from the campaign medium (pk_medium, utm_medium or custom).

See more about tagging campaigns in Piwik PRO.


  • When a page URL only includes the gclid (Google Click ID) parameter and no other parameters, Piwik PRO sets the source as google and the medium as cpc.
  • If a page URL contains two or more parameters of the same type, Piwik PRO will extract the value from the parameter that appears last in the list in Administration > Sites & apps > Data collection > Campaigns > defined parameter or Administration > Account > Global site & app settings > Data collection > Campaigns > defined parameter.

    Example: The defined parameter is “Campaign name: pk_campaign, utm_campaign, my_campaign.” The page URL is https://example.com?my_campaign=winter_promo&pk_campaign=summer_promo. Piwik PRO sets the campaign name to winter_promo because my_campaign is the last item in the list of defined parameters.

  • When a page URL contains the same parameter multiple times, Piwik PRO will use the value from the last occurrence in the page URL.

    Example: The page URL is: https://example.com?pk_campaign=winter_promo&pk_campaign=summer_promo. Piwik PRO sets the campaign name to summer_promo because it’s the last value for pk_campaign in the page URL.

  • If a page URL includes the same parameter both in the URL and the URL fragment, Piwik PRO will use the value from the URL fragment.

    Example: The page URL is https://example.com?pk_campaign=winter_promo#pk_campaign=summer_promo. Piwik PRO sets the campaign name to summer_promo because it’s in the URL fragment.

Step 2: Direct entry

If Piwik PRO doesn’t detect campaign parameters in a page’s URL, it will examine the referer HTTP header. If this header is either empty or contains one of the domains specified in Administration > Sites & apps > Data collection > Site or app address, Piwik PRO will categorize the channel as Direct entry, the source as direct and the medium as direct.

If Piwik PRO goes through all the steps and still cannot assign a channel, it will default to categorizing it as Direct entry.

Step 3: Search engine

If step 2 fails, Piwik PRO checks if the referer HTTP header contains a search engine (see the full list). If so, Piwik PRO assigns the channel as Search engine,  the source as the search engine name and the medium as organic.

Step 4: Social

If step 3 fails, Piwik PRO checks if the referer HTTP header contains a social media platform name (see the full list). If so, Piwik PRO assigns the channel as Social, the source as the social media platform name and the medium as referral.

Step 5: Website

If step 4 fails, Piwik PRO checks if the referer HTTP header contains any other URL (not the domain defined in Administration > Sites & apps > Data collection > Site or app address, not the search engine name, not the social media platform name). If so, Piwik PRO assigns the channel as Website, the source as the referrer domain name and the medium as referral.

Detected search engines

We detect around 275 search engines. Here’s the current list:

1.cz, 118 700, 123people, 360search, Abacho, ABCsøk, Acoon, Aguea, Allaverksamheter, Alexa, Alice Adsl, All.by, Allesklar, AllTheInternet, AllTheWeb, AlohaFind, AltaVista, AOL, Apollo lv, Apollo7, Aport, Arama, Arcor, Arianna, Ask, Avira SafeSearch, Atlas, auone, auone Images, Austronaut, Babylon, Baidu, Biglobe, Biglobe Images, Bing, Bing Images, blekko, Blogdigger, Blogpulse, Bluewin, Brave, Canoe.ca, Centrum, Charter, Claro Search, Clix, Cốc Cốc, Comcast, Compuserve.com (Enhanced by Google), Conduit.com, Crawler, Cuil, Daemon search, DasOertliche, DasTelefonbuch, Daum, Delfi EE, Delfi lv, Digg, dir.com, DisconnectSearch, dmoz, DuckDuckGo, Earthlink, Ecosia, El Mundo, Eniro, Entireweb, eo, EpicSearch.in, Eurip, Euroseek, Everyclick, Exalead, Excite, Facebook, Fast Browser Search, Findhurtig, Fireball, Firstsfind, Fixsuche, Flix.de, Fooooo, Forestle, Francite, Free, FreeCause, Freenet, FriendFeed, Frontier, GAIS, Genieo, Geona, Gibiru, Gigablast, Gigablast (Directory), Gnadenmeer, Gomeo, goo, Google, Google Blogsearch, Google Custom Search, Google Images, Google Maps, Google News, Google Scholar, Google Shopping, Google syndicated search, Google Translations, Google Video, GoYellow.de, Gule Sider, Haosou, HighBeam, Hit-Parade, Holmes, Hooseek, Hotbot, I-play, Icerocket, ICQ, Ilse NL, iMesh, Inbox, InfoSpace, Interia, Isodelen, IxQuick, Jungle Key, Jungle Spider, Jyxo, K9 Safe Search, Kataweb, Kensaq, Kvasir, La Toile Du Québec (Google), Laban, Latne, Lilo, Lo.st, LookAny, Lookseek, Looksmart, Lycos, maailm.com, Mailru, Mamma, Meinestadt.de, Meta.ua, MetaCrawler DE, Metager, Metager2, Mister Wong, Mojeek, Monstercrawler, mozbot, MySpace, MyWebSearch, Najdi.si, Nate, Naver, Needtofind, Neti, Nifty, Nifty Videos, Nigma, Onet.pl, Online.no, OnlySearch, Opplysningen 1881, Orange, Paperball, PeopleCheck, PeoplePC, Picsearch, Plazoo, PlusNetwork, Poisk.Ru, qip.ru, Qualigo, Qwant, Rakuten, Rambler, Riksdelen, Road Runner, rpmfind, Sapo, Scour.com, Search.ch, Search.com, Searchalot, SearchCanvas, SearchLock, Searchy, SeeSaa, Setooz, Seznam, Seznam Videa, Sharelook, Skynet, sm.cn, sm.de, SmartAddressbar, SmartShopping, Snap.do, So-net, So-net Videos, Softonic, Sogou, Soso, Sputnik, start.fyi, StartPage, Startpagina (Google), Startsiden, Suche.info, Suchmaschine.com, Suchnase, Surf Canyon, T-Online, talimba, TalkTalk, Tarmot, Technorati, Teoma, Terra, Tiscali, Tixuma, Toolbarhome, Toppreise.ch, Trouvez.com, TrovaRapido, Trusted Search, Twingly, uol.com.br, URL.ORGanzier, Vinden, Vindex, Virgilio, Voila, Volny, Walhello, Web.de, Web.nl, weborama, WebSearch, Wedoo, Winamp, Wirtualna Polska, Witch, Woopie, www värav, X-Recherche, Yahoo!, Yahoo! Directory, Yahoo! Images, Yahoo! Japan, Yahoo! Japan Images, Yahoo! Japan Videos, Yam, Yandex, Yandex Images, Yasni, Yatedo, Yellowmap, Yippy, YouGoo, Zapmeta, Zhongsou, Zoek, Zoeken, Zoohoo, Zoznam, Zxuso, 묻지마 검색

Detected social media platforms

We recognize around 75 social media platforms. Here’s the current list:

Badoo, Bebo, BlackPlanet, Buzznet, Classmates.com, Cyworld, Gaia Online, Geni.com, GitHub, Google+, Douban, Dribbble, Facebook, Fetlife, Flickr, Flixster, Fotolog, Foursquare, Friends Reunited, Friendster, gree, Haboo, Hacker News, hi5, Hyves, identi.ca, Instagram, lang-8, Last.fm, LinkedIn, LiveJournal, Mastodon, MeinVZ, Mixi, MoiKrug.ru, Multiply, my.mail.ru, MyHeritage, MyLife, Myspace, myYearbook, Nasza-klasa.pl, Netlog, Odnoklassniki, Orkut, Ozone, Peepeth, Pinterest, Plaxo, reddit, Renren, Skyrock, Sonico.com, StackOverflow, StudiVZ, Tagged, Taringa!, Telegram, Tuenti, tumblr, Twitter, Sourceforge, StumbleUpon, Vkontakte, YouTube, V2EX, Viadeo, Vimeo, vkrugudruzei.ru, WAYN, Weibo, WeeWorld, Windows Live Spaces, Xanga, XING

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