How to activate cross-device reports in Google Analytics

, Posted by Adrian Kingwell in Blog, Phil's posts, Web Analytics

Sid Shah, web analytics manager for Mezzo Labs, explains how to stitch together individuals across all the different devices they might use while visiting your website.

What is cross-device reporting?

Cross-device reporting helps us connect visitor session data across multiple devices. It shows us that the visitor using smartphone A is actually the same visitor who is using tablet B and laptop C. So instead of counting 3 visitors, we only count one.

It provides insights on user journeys with different devices and sessions and helps us to better understand the actual conversion process over time.

This report is not enabled in the standard Google Analytics setup. To enable this report requires custom setup and small developer effort.

It is only accessible with the latest Universal Analytics tagging. If your website has classic Google Analytics tags, you need to upgrade these tags to Universal Analytics.

To activate this report, follow steps below.

Step 1 – Go to the Admin panel in Google Analytics

Under the Tracking Info section, click on User ID (as shown in picture below).

Please note that this requires admin level access.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 5.23.32 PM

Step 2 – Accept the user ID policy

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 5.28.28 PM

Step 3 – Implement the JavaScript code

On acceptance of user policy, Google Analytics will provide some JavaScript code to implement on your site.

This code should be implemented once a user is “signed in” on your website.

The code collects User Identification (“USER_ID”) information about your customer. This User-ID can be the customer ID from your backend system, or it may be a random number, generated uniquely for each customer. For example:

ga(‘set’, ‘&uid’, {{USER_ID}}); // Set the user ID using signed-in user_id.

Do not use an email address, credit card number or any other Personally Identifiable Information (“PID”) as a User-ID. Google Analytics doesn’t permit PID data collection.

Step 4 – Leave the Session Unification option turned ON


Step 5 – Create a new profile view

The data collected for User-ID is not retrospective and is only tracked once User-ID tags are implemented.

Google Analytics recommends we create a new profile view for User IDs. This view will be filtered and contain data from sessions where user ID was detected. This will also enable Cross-device reports.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 5.36.10 PM

Step 6 – View your reports

Once activated, you will see a new section called “Cross Device” within the Audience reports.

The Cross Device section contains 3 reports:

  • Device Overlap
  • Device Paths
  • Acquisition Device

Metrics in these reports are based on Google Analytics with User-ID implementation and data-stitching.

Happy analysing!