Google Signals in Google Analytics 4 is one feature you encounter when setting up your GA4 property. Should you activate it? It depends on a few critical points that this article will disclose.
What is Google Signals in Google Analytics 4?
Let’s start with the definition. According to Google documentation:
Google Signals are session data from sites and apps that Google associates with users who have signed in to their Google accounts and who have turned on Ads Personalization. This association of data with these signed-in users is used to enable cross-device reporting, cross-device remarketing, and cross-device conversion export to Google Ads.
To summarize, Google Signals is a feature of Google that allows you to merge the data about the same user using your app or website on multiple devices and browsers and use this data to get a better understanding of the complete user journey, use this data in GA4 audiences for Google Ads remarking campaigns.
How does Google understand that it’s the same user? Everyone who uses Gmail accounts and logged into them on multiple devices will be counted as one user.
So if you are log-in to your Gmail account on your desktop Chrome browser and mobile browser, you will be counted as one user even if you visit the website or app many times. It’s called deduplication.
In addition to that, you can look at the table below to better understand how this works.
|User||Google Signals Status||Visit #1||Visit #2||GA4 “Total Users” metric value|
|User #1||ON / OFF||desktop, chrome browser||desktop, chrome browser||1|
|Users #2||OFF||desktop, chrome browser||android phone, chrome browser||2|
|Users #3||ON||desktop, chrome browser||android phone, chrome browser||1|
Benefits of activating Google Signals in GA4
Benefit #1 – Deduplication
As mentioned above, deduplication is the main benefit of activating Google Signals in Google Analytics 4.
So GA4 will be able to use data from their partners’ and your websites to associate the data about the same user in one user profile, and you will have a better view of your users’ journey. It can be much more critical when someone lands on your website using mobile for the first time and decide to buy your product on a desktop. Thus, your data will be more accurate.
Benefit #2 – Demographic data: Gender, Interests, and Age
Activating Google Signals in Google Analytics 4 allows you to see gender, interests and age data about your users.
For instance, it’s how your GA4 property can look if Google Signals is not activated.
And it’s how it will start to look if Google Signals in GA4 is turned on.
It’s also worth mentioning that demographic data such as country, language, and device are available in Google Analytics 4 by default. Google Signals doesn’t change it, but it deduplicates your users.
Benefit #3 – Google Ads cross-device remarking audiences
Along with the second benefit of having more data about your users in Google Analytics 4, you can also use this data to create audiences in Google Analytics 4 and use them for remarking purposes in Google Ads.
Since the Google Signals feature helps Google to define the same user on multiple devices, you can show remarking ads for the same user when they use the internet using any of their devices.
It’s a critical feature to reach as many abandoned users as possible using GA4 data. Therefore Google Signals is an excellent choice for companies that relies on Google Ads significantly.
How to activate Google Signals in GA4
The process of activating Google Signals in Google Analytics 4 requires you to do a few following steps:
- Navigate to Google Analytics 4 Admin Page and select Data Settings -> Data Collection
- Read the policy and toggle on Google Signals
If you want to collect even more information and use GA4 data for google ads remarking audiences, you can activate “Granular location and device data collection” and “Advanced Settings to Allow for Ads Personalization” as well.
Selecting the right reporting Identity option in GA4
After you enable Google Signals in Google Analytics 4, you should also decide how you want Google Analytics 4 to handle user detection in your reports.
As mentioned early in this article, Google Signals allows GA4 to determine better users using different browsers and devices if they log in to their Google (Gmail) account. Google Analytics 4 allows you to select one of the options: blended, observed or device-based.
You can select yours in Google Analytics 4 -> Admin Page -> Reporting Identity page.
Before we dive deeper into the difference between these three options, I want to tell you that the most often used and recommended one is “blended”.
However, if you don’t use consent mode on your website and don’t pass this information into Google Analytics 4, using the “observed” reporting option makes sense.
The last one is device-based, and it’s what you will receive if you won’t use user_id and Google Signals. The same user visiting your website using two different browsers and even with passing user_id will be counted twice. Therefore this option looks less functional to me, but if you have your own practical case, you can share it in the comment section below.
So, all in all, I recommend using “blended” if you use consent mode on your website and “observed” if you don’t.
The blended option will use a machine-learning algorithm to fill this gap by using the data of similar users who accept cookies from the same property to model the behaviour of the users who decline cookies.
Other critical facts you should know about Google Signals in GA4
Although we covered almost 90% of the information about Google Signals in Google Analytics 4, there are still a few critical facts you should be aware of.
Google Signals data is not imported into Google BigQuery
The first one is that Google Signals data is not imported into BigQuery even if you have linked GA4 with BigQuery. Therefore, don’t try to find it in BigQuery. It just doesn’t exist there.
Google Signals GDPR complaint
Yes, Google Signals is GDPR-complaint because to collect this demographic data, users need to give access to it in their Google accounts. Therefore, you are safe.
Google Signals or Demographic data is subject to threshold
The sensitive data in Google Analytics 4 should meet the minimum threshold to appear correctly.
The minimum data Google requires you to have is a monthly average of 500 users per day per GA4 property.
It doesn’t mean that you won’t see data. It means you will see your data when it meets this threshold. One of the options to see it is to expand the time of your analysis, for instance, from 30 days to 90 days.
To summarize, activating Google Signals in Google Analytics 4 allows you to better understand your end clients by seeing such data as interests, in-market interests, age and gender. You can also use this data to create audiences in GA4 and use them for Google Ads remarking campaigns.
Along the way, it improves your GA4 reports by deduplicating total users and showing one user using multiple devices and browsers as one user.
Google Signals is an excellent feature that you should activate if one of your primary acquisition channels is Google Ads.
Frequently Asked Questions
Google Signals is a feature of Google Analytics 4 that allows you to merge the data about the same user using your app or website on multiple devices and browsers.
To enable Google Signals in your GA4 property, take the following steps:
1) Navigate to Google Analytics 4 Admin Page and select Data Settings -> Data Collection
2) Read the policy and toggle on Google Signals
Here are a few critical reasons to activate Google Signals in GA4:
1) Better reporting by showing the more accurate number of users
2) Access to demographic data: age, gender, interests
3) Ability to use demographic data for remarking campaigns in Google Ads
Unfortunately, Google Signals data doesn’t upload into BigQuery.
Yes, Google Signals are GDPR-complaint because to collect this demographic data, users need to give access to it in their Google accounts.