Google Analytics Deep Dive: Understanding Google Signals

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Craig Smith  |  Founder & CEO

In July 2018, Google announced its top tool to improve cross-device tracking: Google Signals. This feature is found within Google Analytics and gives companies an idea for how much their audiences overlap and which campaigns need cross-device support the most. For the past year, the feature has largely been in beta. However, it is now commonly found and used in many Analytics interfaces.

Let’s take a deep dive into Google Signals to learn how you can use it and apply its insights to your marketing campaigns.  

What Are the Capabilities of Google Signals?

Google Signals is meant to enhance your current analytics usage. Many of the benefits of Google Signals are already available within Google Analytics, but Signals improves upon the data and capabilities that you already have. The top four benefits, as explained by Google, include:

  • Remarketing with Google Analytics: brands that create remarketing campaigns can now launch cross-device promotions.
  • Advertising reporting features: Google Analytics will be able to collect more information from the behavior of users.
  • Demographics, and Interests reports: Google Analytics will be able to collect additional information on various demographics and interests of users.
  • Cross-device reports: Google can model the behavior of different user types to better help develop campaigns to target different audiences. These models are user-based rather than session-based.

The key to Google Signals lies in users who have turned on Ad Personalization. None of the Google Signals features are available for users who do not turn on Ad Personalization. This means that the data will only be collected from part of your audience. The users who do not turn on this feature cannot be remarketed to and you will not be able to better understand their demographics.

However, Google estimates that enough users have turned on Ad Personalization to the point where the sample size collected from this group reflects the entire body of web users. While you may not be able to reach your entire remarketing audiences, you can trust the reporting that Google Analytics presents to you.

How to Activate Google Signals

You can turn on Google Signals within the Analytics interface. The whole process can be completed in less than a minute.

  • Sign in to Google Analytics.
  • Click on the Admin cog.
  • Follow the navigation Property (middle column) > Tracking info > Data Collection.
  • Click on the section related to Google Signals (currently in a blue banner at the top).
  • Click Continue and then Activate to turn on this feature.

You can manually disable Google Signals easily. Google uses a toggle that you can click on or off to collect data from users. If you need to stop collecting data or pause the collection for a short period of time, you can do it in this section.

You can see a screenshot of the path to the Google Signals section of Analytics below. This is what your Analytics page will look like once you have turned this feature on.

Google Signals

What Insights Can You Take Away from Google Signals

Once you are familiar with the features and reports of Google Signals, you can apply these insights to your data analysis. Below are a few use cases for Google Signals that you can follow to improve your overall digital marketing efforts.

See Where Your Device Use Overlaps

What percentage of users access your content from multiple devices? This feature will provide immediate insight into how people engage with your brand. You can see the percent of users who access each device and the percentage that use multiple features.

For example, a brand like Indeed might have a high overlap rate because users like to search for jobs on their mobile devices and then apply for them on their desktops. This is because they have access to their resumes and can edit and attach their cover letters easier. With this information, Indeed can develop a plan to make saving jobs across devices easier or work on a campaign to encourage more people to apply for jobs on their smartphones.

See Which Campaigns Have the Most Overlap

One of the biggest issues that marketers have is tracking assisted conversions, or conversions that moved consumers to buy but weren’t necessarily the first or last touch. Cross-device reports can prevent brands from cutting certain marketing channels and losing an important part of the consumer journey just because they don’t drive immediate sales.    

Recapture Customers With Cross-Device Remarketing

Move customers deeper into the sales funnel with remarketing across different devices. For example, your user clicks on a paid ad to your website while on the bus. The scroll through your pages and consider your brand. Then they become distracted when the bus reaches their stop. Your remarketing ad brings them back to your website when they see it later on their desktop. At this time, your user is more focused and ready to make a purchase, turning a top or mid-funnel customer into a bottom-funnel converter.

Learn How Specific Personas Behave

Because the data collected from Google Signals is user-based rather than session-based, you can better understand how your audiences behave. This, paired with better demographics and interests reporting, allows you to line up different behavioral patterns with different profiles. Brands can better create campaigns for specific target audiences based on their behavior and change the campaigns based on audience response.   

For example, a brand might create a cross-device remarketing campaign for less tech-friendly audiences that prefer to use their desktops for purchases.

Discover Other Analytics Tools and Capabilities

While the Google Signals feature is a valuable tool for better exploring your audiences and their behavior, it is only one part of your data ecosystem. The vast majority of marketers have a disjointed data process. Each individual marketing channel has its own reporting and data.

At Trinity Insight, we want to take that a step further. We work to grow your data maturity so that all systems are connected together and centralized in one platform. If it sounds complex, it isn’t for you. You will benefit from looking at one centralized information source that you can base your decisions off of.

Start by taking our five-minute self-assessment to determine your organization’s data maturity to see how your company can improve.  

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