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PHOTO: Travis Wise

It is always nice to have a map for a journey, but for years marketers had no map to understand the journey customers take across devices. 

Google is now looking to provide such a map with Google Analytics cross-device reporting, a capability that the company introduced as part of the realignment of its marketing platform that it announced at Google Marketing Live in July.

The Cross Device reports are designed to allow marketers to see when users visit a website from different devices. Instead of metrics that show, for example, two separate sessions (e.g., one from the desktop and another via a mobile device), Cross Device reports give marketers “a better idea of how seemingly unrelated touch points, sessions, and interactions are connected,” according to Google.

“By understanding these device interactions as part of a broader customer experience, you can make more informed product and marketing decisions,” says Jesse Savage, director of product management for Google Analytics, in a July 11 blog post.


Related Article: Understanding Google Analytics Audience Reports

3 Types of Cross Device Reports

The Cross Device reports system offers three types of reports that cover different aspects of cross-device reporting. Here’s a look at each of them:

  • Acquisition Device reports. An Acquisition Device report “combines attribution and traffic metrics so you can see the relationship between acquisition and conversion,” according to Google. A data table in this report displays a row for each of the device categories defined in Analytics: desktop (which includes laptops), tablet and mobile. Metrics include Revenue for Originating Device, which shows the amount of revenue generated via the type of device on which users were acquired, and Revenue From Other Devices, which displays how much revenue is generated on devices in a category different from the one on which the users were acquired.
  • Device Overlap reports. A Device Overlap report shows how many different types of devices people use to engage with your content, according to Google. It displays a Venn diagram to allow marketers to see what proportion of people use only one type of device and what proportion of people use a combination of different devices.
  • Device Paths reports. A Device Paths report shows the last five device types someone used on a site before a conversion. It offers insight into the way people engage with content and progress toward conversion, and thus, according to Google, helps marketers optimize device-specific experiences and ad strategies to match the engagement activity they expect users to take on a particular type of device at a certain step in the conversion process.

To use the new Cross Device reports, visit the Admin section of a Google Analytics account and select the Google signals setting. Google signals works with user ID, an administrative setting designed to allow marketing and analytic settings to anonymize metrics reflecting site visitors who have opted into personalized advertising. Thus, people who arrive at a tagged site remain anonymous, a nod to privacy protection.

Google states on its site that some accounts have access to Google signals at this time, and it is rolling out the setting to all Analytics accounts over the coming weeks.

Related Article: Google Rebrands AdWords and DoubleClick to Google Ads

Google Cross Device Puts Better Attribution Within Reach

Marketers have long debated about attribution metrics, and that debate is heating up as customers use multiple devices in their daily shopping activities. Marketers used to rely on last-click or last-touch attribution — assigning value to the last action by a website visitor or app user. As use of mobile devices becomes an increasingly essential component of retail activity, marketers are demanding analytics that permit more distributive attribution.

The new Google Analytics reporting capabilities should give marketers the ability to better accommodate and respond to many of the new consumer behaviors that have emerged in recent years.

Google’s Cross Device reports represent an effort to fulfill marketers’ needs for better attribution and provide them with the ability to link customer experiences to goals. Attribution is essential for marketers to know what is driving sales.

With a better understanding of the customer journey across devices thanks to tools like Google Analytics Cross Device reports, marketers will have more information that they can use to craft more relevant and useful experiences for their customers.