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      Digital Marketing & Analytics

      GA4 Update – Google Signals Removed From Reporting Identity

      Jan 05, 2024

      6 minute read

      Google routinely introduces updates that can significantly determine the strategies for the future and encourage consistent innovation.

      The launch of Google Analytics 4 and its improved capabilities was one such step toward enabling marketers to get a unified view of the user journey across devices.

      The integration of Google Signals and GA4 also allowed marketers to identify user visits on websites and apps from different devices.

      But now as per Google’s recent announcement, it will remove ‘Google Signals’ from the reporting identity on February 12, 2024.

      Google signals will be removed from GA4

      This announcement holds significance because –

      a. It allows analysts to leverage this functionality in all reports as opposed to only a few pre-built reports.
      b. It shows Google prioritizing user privacy by using machine learning only for those who opt-in to personalization.

      This blog post explains more about Google Signals, Reporting Identity, and what the removal of these signals means for marketers.

      Let’s get started!

      What are Google Signals?

      Google Signals are session data from both websites and apps, specifically linked to users signed into their Google accounts with Ads Personalization enabled.

      Cross-device reporting, remarketing, and conversion export to Google Ads can be enabled for these signed-in users. Google signals enable you to understand and implement improved reporting strategies across multiple devices.

      Google Signals offers an advantage over third-party cookies because they use aggregate data and anonymize personal data. This ensures that personal user information is protected and is in compliance with GDPR and other privacy laws.

      Furthermore, turning on Ad Personalization allows Google to develop a comprehensive view of users interacting from different browsers and devices.

      What is Reporting Identity in GA4?

      When an individual user interacts with a business using different devices and platforms, it is recorded as a separate session.

      So, browsing about a product or service will be one session, researching more about it from a different device is another session, and purchasing from another device is the third session.

      Google Analytics 4 can combine these three sessions into a single cross-device user journey. It can use the following four methods to achieve this:

      a. User-ID: Consistently assign IDs to users and include them along with the data being sent to Analytics.

      b. Google Signals: Analytics collects all the event data associated with the Google accounts of signed-in users who have also consented to share this information.

      c. Device ID: Analytics can use device ID as an identity space because websites draw the device ID value from the client ID and apps derive it from the app-instance ID.

      d. Modeling: Behavioral data is not recorded for the users who decline identifiers like cookies but Analytics can model the behavior of such users using the data of users who accept cookies.

      The term ‘Identity Spaces’ is used consistently in all reports. It helps prevent counting the same user multiple times and ensures a unified identity across all associated data. In GA4, the ‘Identity Spaces’ specific to your property is referred to as its ‘Reporting Identity.’

      How Does Google Signals Work?

      Google Signals have been around since 2018 and enabled cross-device data collection from users signed into their Google accounts. Before they are discontinued in February this year, let’s quickly take a look at how they work.

      1. Cross Platform Reporting

      Using your User ID or Google Signals data, you can connect data about devices and activities from different sessions. This will help you understand user behavior from initial interactions to conversion and beyond. However, users need to ensure that their Google Signals data includes a monthly average of 500 users per day per property.

      2. Remarketing With Google Analytics

      With Google Analytics, you can generate remarketing audiences using your data and share them with linked advertising accounts. Once you activate Google Signals, audiences created in GA and shared with platforms like Google Ads can be used for cross-device remarketing campaigns.

      3. Advertising Reporting Features

      Google Analytics gathers information as per your tagging configuration, Google Signals data, and Google advertising cookies present.

      4. Demographics and Interests

      Using device identifiers, Google Analytics collects additional information about demographics and user interests who are signed in to their Google accounts with Ads Personalization enabled.

      Why Were Google Signals Introduced in GA4?

      1. Google Signals – The Third Reporting ID

      GA4 had only two reporting identities earlier i.e., User ID and Device ID. But User ID only allows you to track users who are logged into their Google accounts when interacting with a website.

      Device ID, on the other hand, tracks sessions based on devices, and the limited duration of cookies on web browsers hinders reporting.

      Google Signals enabled cross-device reporting, remarketing, and conversion exports, and removed the gaps in reporting data.

      2. Cross-Device Customer Mapping

      Since GA4 records a new session whenever a user visits a website from different devices, it doesn’t map them as a single-user journey. However, activating Google Signals in your GA4 property will give you a combined view of the entire session data for a user.

      3. Better Personalization Opportunities

      Google Signals gave better personalization opportunities to users by offering them Ad Personalization features. Also, the inclusion of user interests and demographics allowed improved user insights and full-funnel analysis to examine how users interact with your website. All these insights can help you improve user experience and the chances of conversion.

      4. Enable Enhanced Remarketing & Conversions

      Remarketing, if done correctly, can elevate your conversion rate. Google Signals enhanced the already existing remarketing feature of Google Analytics 4. Users who are logged into their Google accounts can see your personalized ads on all their devices, provided Ads Personalization is enabled. This increases the chances of them clicking on your ads and converting, hence giving a boost to your remarketing strategy.

      What Does the Removal of Google Signals From Reporting Identity Mean?

      1. Challenges With Cross-Device Tracking

      The removal of Google Signals from the Reporting Identity will limit the ability of Analytics to track users across devices. However, anonymous signed-in Google user data is hardly added to reports. Only a large percentage of data and users opting in to share their information will show an impact on your reporting once Google Signals are removed.

      2. Decrease in Data Thresholds

      A decrease in data thresholds implies that you will be able to see a complete picture of your data in Google Analytics. Thresholds were applicable for collecting smaller datasets and wherever Google Signals is being used. Now that Google Signals won’t be available, your reports are likely to see an improvement in terms of aggregated and segmented data.

      3. Lack of Insights on Demographics & User Interests

      Google Signals will still be collected in GA4 but won’t contribute to reporting identity anymore. This will have an impact on the insights based on demographic data, user interests, age, gender, etc. User behavior, conversions, and campaign performance can fill this gap and fuel data-driven decisions.

      Key Takeaway

      Google will thus be bidding goodbye to Google Signals as part of reporting identity in GA4. If you want to visualize the impact this will have on your reports, you can disable Google Signals in reporting identity from your analytics property.

      After the recent shutdown of cookie-based tracking and the introduction of a new analytical dashboard, marketers worldwide should take note of this major update. It’s crucial to consider and adapt their marketing and analytics strategies accordingly.

      Want More Insights on Google Analytics 4 & Related Features? Talk to Us!

      Our Google-certified experts can help you learn in detail about the latest analytics updates and mold your marketing plan for the next year. To learn more about our digital marketing services, simply drop us a line at [email protected] and we’ll take it from there.


      1. What are Google signals used for?
      Google signals are used to enhance user identification within Google Analytics 4 (GA4) by leveraging data from signed-in Google accounts on different devices. This allowed marketers to see a more complete picture of user journeys across platforms. For instance, it could show a visit on a phone and a later purchase on a laptop from the same user.

      2. How do I enable Google signals in Google Analytics 4?
      As of February 12, 2024, Google Signals are no longer part of GA4’s reporting identity. This means the option to enable them is no longer available.

      3. Are Google signals being removed?
      Yes, Google removed Google signals from GA4 reporting identity on February 12, 2024. This aligns with their focus on user privacy and emphasizes using machine learning for data analysis based on user consent for personalization.

      4. Can you disable Google signals?
      Since Google signals are no longer included in GA4 reporting, there’s no option to disable them.

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