Data and Insights

Measuring Conversions Across Devices

Earlier this year, Google hosted an event on measurement, data and actionability, covering the technical elements of implementing Google Tag Manager and AdWords conversion tracking, in order to improve measurement of digital marketing performance.

The data section revealed measuring data points that currently may not be reported but provide a great deal of insight. Aside from on-site conversion, conversions can take place cross-device, on apps, via phone calls, offline (store visits), first-party audiences and bids and this is what we’ll be taking a deeper look into as it will help us provide more valuable insights.

What are cross-device conversions?

Cross-device conversions start as a search or display ad click on one device and end as a conversion on another browser, device or app.

It has previously been stated that cross-device attribution is “nothing but an approximation of conversion. It’s guess work at best”. Of course, Google has proven this assertion wrong.

Google started estimating cross-device conversions two years ago, and now with their recent development are in a position to more accurately measure cross-device conversion. Despite this, only 33% of agency respondents report to their clients on cross-device data.

How does Google measure cross-device conversions?

Google, Facebook and Twitter all use their user log-in data to track cross-device conversions for those who log-in to a service on multiple devices.

Google measures cross-device conversions from millions of users who have previously signed in to Google. The Google ecosystem (Gmail, YouTube, and Android) does most of the hard work and for users that aren’t signed in, Google has developed an algorithm to extrapolate all conversions. Essentially, Google uses the data of VISIBLE users to build an algorithm that guesses the behaviour of INVISIBLE users.

Let’s look at an example (assuming that the user is signed in to Google services on mobile and laptop):

  1. Customer researches holidays on mobile and clicks on an ad but does not purchase
  2. Customer visits site directly on laptop to purchase last minute holiday
  3. Conversion attributed to mobile ad click in ‘cross-device conversion’ column in data

We have three scenarios below. For each scenario, we can see where the conversion appears and its value:

Conversion Attribution

What does this mean?

  • It’s even more evident that Google is watching you and using your data. It should give marketers more confidence to spend on mobile, as cross-device attribution will improve the measurement of mobile marketing ROI

  • It gets everyone thinking about the different behaviours/user states typically found with users of mobile vs desktop, and this should be considered in marketer’s strategies when planning media

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