Signals from Google? Cross Device Tracking

by Gregory Lett

Let’s talk about a newer feature in Google Analytics called Google Signals and why it’s important to have it enabled in your own Analytics account.  Google Signals is the best (free) solution we have available that can track users across devices.  Prior to Signals, cross device tracking was difficult (or impossible) for many retailers to use.  It involved developing custom JavaScript for your site that would replace the user’s ID number assigned by Google Analytics with a customer number from your own system.  In other words, GA would rely on your website or CMS to assign user IDs to each site visitor.  Difficult. Signals, once toggled on in your Analytics account, can track users who are signed-in to their own Google account across the various devices that they use – mobile, tablet and desktop.  However, these users must also have “ad personalization” enabled in their Google accounts. Turning the feature on is easy.  Simply log into your Analytics account and navigate to the admin panel. In the Property column, click Tracking Info > Data Collection and look for the blue banner across the top of your screen.  Just follow the prompts and after a few more clicks, you’re all set.  If you don’t see the banner, it may be enabled already.

The group of reports called “Cross-Device Reports”, will populate in your account after you’ve enabled Signals.  It contains four new reports: Device Overlap – Displays what devices are used by customers who convert, regardless of the sequence in which they were used, in a Venn diagram.

Venn Diagram of Google Analytics Device Overlap Report

Device Paths – Visually shows what devices were used and in which order.

Image of Google Analytics Device Path Report

Channels – Uses the default “last non-direct click” attribution method to show which channels were engaged by users over time.

Image of New Users by Default Channel Grouping Report from Google Analytics  

Acquisition Device – Indicates which device was first used by a customer on their path to conversion. New Users by Device Category Report from Google Analytics

Keep in mind this report is only looking at users who have signed-in to their Google accounts and who also have converted. So, what’s the big deal?  This is a very easy way to gain a deeper understanding of how your customers interact with your brand and in particular the customers who purchase from you.  You can use this information to fine tune your marketing mix and contact strategy.  For example, you might decide that it makes more sense to spend more of your PPC budget targeting mobile devices if you determine that a large percentage of your new-to-file customers are interacting with your website first on a mobile device. With Signals enabled, you are also able to serve retargeting ads to your audience regardless of which device they are using.  When you segment your users for targeting purposes, you’ll now be able to keep your message consistent across devices.  This means that you can display personalized retargeting ads to a user on their desktop, who initially viewed your products on their mobile device.   In other words, if a mobile user viewed product #1 and product #2 on your website, you can retarget them on their desktop device with a personalized ad containing product #1 and product #2. Signals can help you identify new opportunities that can be gained from cross device tracking in Google Analytics. 

If you would like to learn more or have any questions please contact me, your PPC manager or anyone on the Lett Direct Team!