Digital Innovation Platforms
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Publishers can now access “Cross Device” capabilities through Google Analytics

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In a world where Google and Facebook dominate digital advertising and scoop up most of the ad dollars, one of the ways publishers can increase their share is by using more accountable, accurate measurement tools which reflect the true usage behaviors of their readers.

Audience Behavior Analysis

To understand audience behavior, digital publishers and marketers tend to rely on semi-indicative measures like the last click attribution metrics which show a part of the journey, but not the full picture, giving an incomplete representation of their digital efforts.

For example, a reader might see and click on an ad on a publisher’s site. Later, because she is being retargeted after the first interaction, she may see an ad for the same offering on a social network. Or if she shared her details on the site on the first visit, she might again come across it via an email newsletter.

Sometime later, she might see an AdWords ad and finally make a purchase. In the last interaction attribution model, the final touchpoint— in this case, the AdWords advertisement— would receive 100% of the credit for the conversion.

This is obviously not an accurate representation of the customer behavior, and this is particularly true today, when people are always carrying smartphones and tablets, and more often than not, look things up on multiple devices before finally making a purchase.

“Cross Device” reporting

Google has over time undertaken various initiatives to address this imbalance, and its latest announcement on this issue focuses on Google Analytics, which can now better track audience behavior via “Cross Device” reporting.

“Today, we’re introducing new Cross Device features to Google Analytics. Analytics will now help you understand the journey your customers are taking across their devices as they interact with your website,” Google announced.

The new option will help publishers and marketers better understand their audience behavior, which can then inform their subsequent ad spend and focus.

Benefits for publishers

As explained by Google:

“The Cross Device reports give you the tools you need to organize data across multiple devices into a cohesive analysis, so you get a better idea of how seemingly unrelated touch points, sessions, and interactions are connected. 

The Cross Device reports help you connect data about devices and activities from different sessions so you can get a better understanding of your users and what they do at each step of the conversion process – from initial contact to long-term retention.”

Jesse Savage, Director of Product Management at Google Analytics, explains how this helps to make more informed decisions.

“Cross Device reporting in Analytics takes into account people who visit your website multiple times from different device. Now, instead of seeing metrics in Analytics that show two separate sessions (e.g., one on desktop and the other on mobile), you’ll be able to see when users visited your website from two different devices. By understanding these device interactions as part of a broader customer experience, you can make more informed product and marketing decisions.”

What’s next?

This new option is just one of the new cross-device capabilities Google is looking to add in. Other related features that publishers can benefit from include:

Device Overlap: To find out what type and how many devices are used to access the content.

Device Paths: To discover the last 5 device types used before a conversion.

Acquisition Device:  To see the relationship between acquisitions and conversions.

How to activate

To use these new Cross Device features, publishers have to access the Admin section of their Analytics accounts and choose the setting to activate Google signals. (This setting will be rolled out to all Analytics accounts over the coming weeks.) There’s no need to update the website code or get additional assistance from a developer.

With these new beta features in Analytics, it’s expected publishers and marketers will find that by better understanding the customer journey across devices, they can create more relevant and useful experiences for their audience.