Cross Device Reports in Google Analytics (without user login)

Introduction to Cross-Device Reports in Google Analytics

Google Analytics provides cross device reports through which you can get a better understanding of how users engaged and converted on your website across different devices and browsers and over the course of multiple sessions.

Traditionally, in order to access and use the cross-device reports, you are required to set up cross-device tracking in Google Analytics via ‘User ID’, and the cross-device reports were available only in the ‘User ID’ view.

But with the advent of Google Signals, the cross-device reports are now also available in the non-user ID views. So as of now, there are two sets of cross device reports available in Google Analytics.

In order to access and use the cross device reports, you would have to activate Google Signals for your GA property. GA starts collecting cross-device data from the day, you first activated Google Signals for your property.

Note: GA cross device data does not work retroactively.

 

The Two Sets of Cross-Device Reports in Google Analytics

The first set of cross-device reports are available in the ‘User ID’ view:

The second set of cross-device reports are available in a ‘non-User ID’ view (provided Google Signals has been activated for your GA property):

This second and new set of cross-device reports is still in beta and it provides one additional report called the channels report.

So with the advent of Google Signals, you can now take advantage of two different sets of cross-device tracking reports in GA:

 

Difference Between Cross-Device Reports for User ID View and Non-User ID view

Following are the key differences:

#1 The cross-device reports for user ID view collect and report on cross-device data related to the logged in users of your website.

Whereas, the cross-device reports for non-user ID view collect and report on cross-device data related to those website users who have signed in to one of their Google accounts (Gmail, Google+, YouTube, etc) and who have turned on ads personalization.

#2 The cross-device reports for user ID view will collect and report on cross-device data only when you have set up user ID on your website. Setting up user ID is not straightforward and generally requires the help of a web developer.

Whereas, the cross-device reports for non-user ID view collect and report on cross-device data only when you have activated Google Signals for your property. Activating Google Signals is pretty straightforward and requires clicking on just a couple of buttons. It does not require any code update or development work.

#3 The cross-device reports meant for user ID view are not exactly the same as the cross-device reports meant for non-user ID view (though they share common names). Their reporting interface is quite different and they both have got different sets of dimensions and metrics.

For example, the Device Overlap report in a user ID view is quite different than the Device Overlap report found in a non-user ID view:

 

 

 

#4 Google Analytics provides three cross-device reports for user ID view but four cross-device reports for non-user ID view. The one additional report called the Channels report is available only in the non-user ID view.

#5 You cannot apply custom segments to cross device reports for non-user ID view. Whereas you can apply custom segments to cross-device reports for user ID view. 

#6 The cross-device reports for user ID view are not in beta. Whereas, the cross-device reports for non-user ID view are still in beta.

 

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Note(1): The data in the cross-device reports are sampled when the date range you are using, exceeds 250k sessions.

Note(2): You can enable your GA property for both User ID and Google Signals.

Note(3): You should take advantage of the cross device capabilities provided by both User ID and Google Signals.

Note(4): Cross-device reports can take an unusually long time to load for some reason (maybe because they are in beta) so do not be alarmed if you see a notification like the one below:

 

Device Overlap Report

Through the device overlap report, you can determine the website users who interacted with your website via multiple devices (desktop, tablet, and mobile).

The device overlap report uses a bar chart and Venn diagram to visualize the percentage of users who used one or multiple devices to interact with your website. 

The horizontal axis of the bar chart plots the number of website users for each device category. The vertical axis of the bar chart plots the various device categories:

Mobile Only => This device category includes only those website users who interacted with your website via a mobile device.

Desktop Only => This device category includes only those website users who interacted with your website via desktop.

Tablet Only => This device category includes only those website users who interacted with your website via tablet device.

Desktop + Mobile => This device category includes only those website users who interacted with your website via both desktop and mobile devices.

Mobile + Tablet => This device category includes only those website users who interacted with your website via both mobile and tablet devices.

User’s interaction => A user can interact with your website by visiting it and/or by completing a transactional / non-transactional goal.

The Venn diagram is the best way to visualize and understand the percentage of users who used multiple devices (desktop, tablet, and mobile) to interact with your website:

Each coloured circle represents a device category and bigger the overlap between circles, the more users interacted with your website via multiple devices. 

On the contrary, if you do not see any overlap then it means, users are not interacting with your website via multiple devices:

Below the bar chart and Venn diagram, you can see the data table:

The data table provides additional insight (like revenue, revenue per user, ecommerce conversion rate, transactions per user) for each device category, in addition to summarizing the data that you see via bar chart and Venn diagram.

The left-hand side of the data table has got the option to select between two dimensions: ‘Device Category’ & ‘Device Category and OS’:

The right-hand side of the data table has got the option to select between transactional goals (ecommerce) and non-transactional goal(s):

So if you select ‘All Goals’ option then the data table will report on: ‘Goal Value’, ‘Goal Conversion Rate’, ‘Goal Completions’ and ‘Goal Value Per user’ metrics for each device category:

That’s how you can slice and dice the device category data in the device overlap report.

Through the device overlap report, you can determine the device combination which is more likely to produce results on your website.

For example, if you concluded that the users who used both desktop and mobile devices, converted at a much higher rate than the users who used only desktop and the users who only used mobile devices then it is wise to advertise on both mobile and desktop devices and not give preference to any one device.

This is the kind of insight you can get from the device overlap report.

 

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Device Paths Report

The device path report shows device paths for each of the following dimensions:

  1. Device Category
  2. Device Category and Campaign
  3. Device Category and Channel
  4. Device Category and Medium
  5. Device Category and OS
  6. Device Category and Source

The device path represents the order in which your website users use different devices (desktop, mobile, tablet) to interact with your website.

For example, the following device path indicates that 725 website users, interacted with your website first via mobile and then via desktop:

These 725 website users generated 2,519 Google Analytics sessions on your website, and on average, spent 5 minute and 29 seconds on your website.

On the right-hand side of the data table you can see the ecommerce / goal performance of the 725 website visitors i.e. what they did after arriving on your website:

From the screenshot above, we can conclude that:

  • The users who interacted with your website first via mobile and then via desktop (i.e. 725 website visitors) made a total purchase of $22,458.11
  • The average revenue per user was $31.00.
  • The ecommerce conversion rate for the users who interacted with your website first via mobile and then via desktop was 6.8%
  • The average transactions per user was 0.236

The concept of the device path is quite similar to the concept of conversion paths in multi-channel funnel reports

Following are examples of device paths for the dimension called ‘Device Category’:

Following are examples of device paths for the dimension called ‘Device Category and Channel’:

The device path report does not contain any chart. It contains only a data table.

The left-hand side of the data table show website usage data (number of users, sessions, average session duration) for each device path and the right-hand side of the data table show ecommerce / goal performance associated with each device path:

You can select a different dimension by clicking on the drop-down menu, as shown below:

You can switch between ecommerce and goal conversion(s) by clicking on the drop-down menu, as shown below:

Through ‘Path Options’ settings, you can also look at the device paths before and after:

  1. Any Goal completion.
  2. Any transaction
  3. Event Action
  4. Event Category
  5. Event Label
  6. Page
  7. Goal

To look at the device paths before/after, click on either the ‘Show steps before…‘ link or ‘Show steps after…‘ link from the drop menu and then select the action (like ‘any goal’, ‘any transaction’ etc) from the second drop-down menu:

For example, to see the device paths before any transaction, follow the steps below:

Step-1: Click on the drop-down menu next to ‘Show Steps’:

Step-2: Select the ‘before’ option:

Step-3: Click on the second drop-down menu:

Step-4: Select the option ‘any transaction’ from the second drop-down menu and then click on the ‘Apply’ button:

You can also search for a particular device path(s) by typing the search query next to the magnifying glass icon and then pressing the enter key:

 

Channels Report (Cross-Device Channels Report)

The channels report (or cross-device channels report) show the performance of cross device channels in terms of acquisition, behavior, and outcome (ecommerce, goals):

Cross-device channels are those marketing channels that your website users were exposed to, as they interacted with your website across devices.

The cross-device channels report show bar chart and column chart at the top of the report which by default, visualize cross-device users by default channel grouping:

If you want the cross-device channels report to visualize cross-device users by another dimension say ‘source/medium’ then select ‘source/medium’ from the drop-down menu in the data table:

In the cross-device channels report you can add a secondary dimension by clicking on the ‘+’ button as shown below:

The secondary dimension that is selected by default is ‘Device Category’ but you can change it by clicking on the down arrow button next to it:

 

Acquisition Device Report

Through the acquisition device report, you can determine whether a user converted on the originating device or on some other device.

The very first device (desktop, tablet, or mobile) a website user used, to interact with your website is known as the originating device.

The originating device is also known as the acquisition device as this is the device through which you first acquired a user.

The first column of the acquisition device report list all the acquisition/originating devices. The fourth column of the acquisition device report show revenue from each originating device. The fifth column of the acquisition device report show revenue from other devices.

If people visited your website for the first time via display ads on mobile and also made their purchase via the mobile then through ‘Revenue From Originating Device’ column, you know that your mobile-only advertising has resulted in sales on mobile devices.

Similarly, if people visited your website for the first time via display ads on desktop and also made their purchase via the desktop then through ‘revenue from originating device’ column, you know that your desktop only advertising has resulted in sales on desktop devices.

On the other hand, if people visited your website for the first time via display ads on mobile but then returned to your website via desktop/tablet to convert then through ‘Revenue From Other Devices’ column, you know that your mobile-only advertising has also resulted in sales/conversion on other devices.

So through ‘Revenue From Other Devices’ metrics, you can measure the cross-device impact of your marketing campaigns.

The acquisition device report show bar chart and line chart at the top of the report which by default, visualize new users by device category:

If you want the acquisition device report to visualize data by another dimension say ‘Device Category and Channel’ then select ‘Device Category and Channel’ dimension from the drop-down menu in the data table:

 

Data Discrepancies In and Between Cross-Device Reports

When you activate Google signals for the first time, there is no campaign history associated with the logged-in Google users who have turned on ads personalization.

When those users returned to your website, they are counted as new users and their traffic is categorized as direct traffic. So you are likely to see more direct traffic and new users in your cross-device reports for the first few weeks.

In cross-device reports, users are deduplicated across devices.

For example, if a user first interacted with your website via mobile and then later interacted with your website via desktop, then that user is counted as a new user on the mobile and a returning user on the desktop.

In other reports where users are not deduplicated across devices, the same user would be counted as a new user on both mobile and desktop devices.

Google Analytics applies a fixed system-defined (and unknown) threshold to cross-device data to prevent you from viewing the cross-device activities of an individual user.

So unless your reporting view has collected enough cross-device data to overcome this threshold, you may not see any data in your cross-device reports or GA may hide certain data values. GA can also hide certain cross-device data if it is not confident in the accuracy of the estimation of cross-device behavior for your user base.

Finally, the cross-device reports are still in beta and they are likely to remain that way for a long time. So expect data discrepancy in and between cross-device reports.

Note: Collect at least 30 days of data from the date you first activate Google signals before you start your data analysis via cross-device reports. Otherwise, your data is not going to be statistically significant and you are likely to draw the wrong conclusion.

 

Introduction to Cross-Device Tracking

People use different devices (mobile, tablet, and desktop) as they interact with your website and/or marketing campaigns, multiple times in a day or over the course of a week or month.

For example, it is common for people to do their initial research on their mobile devices and then make a purchase later, on their desktop computer.

Without cross-device tracking, your Google Analytics reports may tell you that you get a lot of visits from mobile devices but they do not make a purchase. And the people who do make a purchase actually came from desktop devices.

So armed with this knowledge, you may completely stop advertising on mobile devices and shift all of your marketing budgets to advertise on desktop devices.

However, this is going to be a big mistake and may result in a monetary loss as mobile devices are playing an important role in customer purchase journeys.

It is mobile which introduce your brand and your offer to your prospects.

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Another example, say 1000 customers bought $100,000 worth of items from their mobile devices and then later bought $200,000 worth of items from their desktop devices.

Without cross-device tracking, your Google Analytics reports may tell you that:

  1. You got 1000 customers from mobile and another 1000 customers from a desktop.
  2. Desktop customers are more valuable than mobile customers because they made a bigger purchase.
  3. You should be spending more on acquiring customers via desktop.

Armed with this knowledge, you may reduce your ad spend on mobile devices and increase your marketing budget on desktop devices.

However, this is going to be a big mistake and may result in a monetary loss as the 1000 customers that you acquired via mobile are the ones who later spent more on your website, via desktop.

So in order to get a complete understanding of your customers’ purchase journey, their activities need to be tracked across devices. You must be able to track a customer across devices and web browsers. You must be able to identify that this is the same customer who visited your website via mobile before making a purchase via desktop.

Here cross-device tracking comes into the picture. Cross-device tracking is the tracking of people’s activities across different devices as they interact with your website. It is the tracking of your website users’ activities across multiple screens (as different devices come with different screen sizes).

Through cross-device tracking, you can determine all those people (and their activities) who visited your website via two or more devices, and then you can target them separately via marketing campaigns.

So if you have concluded that your customers use mobile devices primarily to do their initial research but almost always make their purchase on a desktop then you can do the following two things:

#1 You can run mobile-only campaigns that focus on the benefit your products/services provide. The objective here is to get landing page views and not necessarily generate a sale.

#2 You can run desktop-only campaigns that retarget customers who either did not start the checkout or abandoned the checkout. The objective here is to generate sales.

 

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Himanshu helps business owners and marketing professionals in generating more sales and ROI by fixing their website tracking issues, helping them understand their true customers' purchase journey and helping them determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

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