Google Signals Removed From GA4 Reporting Identity

Akanksha Chandan
4 min readJan 9, 2024

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.

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 and what does the removal of Google Signals from Reporting Identity mean?

Read the complete blog here.

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Akanksha Chandan

MBA — Marketing & International Management | Senior Marketing Specialist | Sprouting Interest in Psychology