Tracking Conversions Across Devices with Google AdWords


With enhanced campaigns, Google promised advertisers many interesting features for tracking offline conversions such as visits to stores and even purchases made in store. These will all eventually be part of Google AdWords’ new offering, Estimated Total Conversions. Some of these seemed unfeasible at that time, and still do, but it’s Google so we’ll see what they develop. In the meantime, let’s focus on their first step with Estimated Total Conversion s– cross-device conversions.

Tracking Across Multiple Devices & Browsers

Since most people use multiple devices throughout the day, advertisers ultimately want to track users across each to properly allocate their resources. While that’s not possible (yet), Google has given us estimated cross-device conversions. This new metric will give AdWords advertisers some insight to whether their mobile efforts are influencing users more than what they see on the surface. (Please note that they are only providing estimates for conversions that occur through for now.)

Another plus is that you can also track users across multiple browsers. So if a user clicks a search ad in one browser, but for whatever reason converts using another, you can still estimate the value of that original click.

This is not available for all advertisers yet but it should be rolling out over the next few weeks, similar to their other releases. Also, advertisers who have at least 50 conversions in their account each day have a better chance of receiving this information. My best guess is that this ties back into needing sufficient data to provide estimates that are statistically significant.

The Role of Google+

If you haven’t yet, you’re probably wondering how Google is estimating all of these conversions. Well, you can find the answer in one convenient location: Google+. Google made a significant change to their privacy policy a while back that created one single policy for all of their services. Along with that, they basically integrated all of their services together. With the number of users adopting these services increasing, the amount of data Google receives is also growing. The more data Google receives, the more likely they can see trends that are reliable. I don’t know about others, but I’m constantly logged into my Gmail account in multiple locations.

How Google Uses Big Data

Most advertisers have heard the phrase “big data” by now; this is Google using theirs. Google is applying trends that have seen across all advertisers to give you an idea of how users might be behaving. They’re also learning that different industries have unique behavioral patterns which I’m sure they’ll be integrating into their estimations, if they don’t already.

I’ve seen some negative press about this on Twitter and some blogs, stating that it’s just another swing at increasing their perceived value to advertisers and increasing their own profits – but isn’t that what most of us do? Whether you’re an agency trying to obtain new clients or an advertiser trying to sell your product online, one way to increase your conversions is by increasing your value to the customer. In other words, I can’t blame Google for releasing this.

There is some downside to the fact that it’s estimated and not actual conversion data, but I believe it’s ultimately a step in the right direction and cannot wait to see what’s next.



Francis Shovlin has been in the search industry since 2007, most of that time has been spent at Seer Interactive located in Philadelphia and San Diego, where he helps companies achieve their business goals. You can follow his unpredictable thoughts on life, music, beer and PPC on Twitter: @fmshovlin

The First Machine Learning Marketing Platform
Built to Scale Search for Local Resellers & Agencies

Automate, optimize and track more campaigns, more profitably.