If you are a general marketer and not a digital specialist, you may not have come across Google Signals before. The first you hear about it may well be this banner popping up in your Google Analytics account:
First announced in July 2018, Google Signals is the name given to the Google product that enables cross-device reporting and remarketing. Enabling Google Signals allows you to take advantage of new and improved advertising and reporting features across different devices.
When you activate Google Signals, existing Google Analytics features are upgraded to include more
information from Google users, but only for those who have turned on Ads
These are the areas where more information is gathered when
Google Signals is activated (but only for users with Ads Personalization
No data for individual users is ever exposed, it only reports in
aggregate, so there are no GDPR issues. The retention of data is limited to
26 months, unless you have set your data retention setting to less, in which
case that is respected.
You can read Google’s documentation on activating Google signals for a step-by-step guide and access to more information about
the tool. However, we’ve compiled a quick setup guide based on Google’s
documentation for you right here, so you can get right to it.
To activate Google signals, log in to Google Analytics and click on the ADMIN tab at the bottom of the left-hand menu.
With Google Analytics,
you can manage multiple accounts and each account can have multiple properties
(website, storefront, blog, mobile app, etc.). Now, Google signals is applied
to individual properties, so – if you have multiple properties on Google Analytics
– you need to choose which one to activate it on.
Once you’ve selected
the correct property, click on the Tracking
Info tab in the same column and then click Data Collection. Next, you’ll see a blue notification banner at the
top of the page with a Get Started
button – give that a click and follow the prompt instructions until you see the
Make sure you read and
understand the text on this page before clicking Continue or click the Learn
more about Google signals link if anything is unclear. Next, click Continue and you’ll see the following
Again, read through
this and make sure you understand everything before clicking the Activate button. Also, make sure you
confirm which property you want to apply Google signals to before activating
it. By default, this is set to “all properties” in the account you selected (a
little counter-intuitive) but you can change this to “this property” or select
specific properties assigned to that account.
As long as all the
properties are for the same company, there shouldn’t be an issue with enabling
for all, but if you are an agency that has other companies’ data in your
account, you may have to be more specific with this setting. You will need to
have admin access to the account level (or you’ll get “Access denied”) in order
to set this. If you don’t have account-level access, you will be able to set it
for the properties for which you do have admin access.
If you have not
enabled Data Sharing in your Google Analytics account, you will see a different
second paragraph asking you to turn this on, as Google Signals only works if
you have this enabled.
Google also asks you
to make sure you are letting your users know.
Finally, click the Activate button and you’re all done.
Like much Google Analytics data, collection of the information only starts from when you activate the information, so if you want to make use of it, you should activate it as soon as possible. If you are doing remarketing or using the behaviour reports already, this is a no-brainer.
If you read the information about Google Signals, most of it
pertains to the additional information you get for your Google Ads campaigns.
However, the Cross Device reports works for all users, whatever source or
medium they used (as long as they have Ads Personalization enabled), so this
information is available, even if they came from organic. This is the Device
And this is the Channels report:
However, there doesn’t appear to be any cross-device information
in that report that we can see. Perhaps there’s more to come, as the product is
a beta, after all.
There’s clearly a current push in terms of rolling out the
availability of the beta to different Google Analytics accounts. It’s been
available on some for a couple of weeks, but on others it has just appeared. It
won’t get enabled by default because of the requirement to enable data sharing
features and the data it brings, it is going to take your manual intervention.
If you need help with anything covered in this article, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Google Analytics specialists.
Kerry is Head of SMB SEO at Vertical Leap.
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