12 January 2024
Google signals removed in GA4
- Google signals will be removed from the reporting identity in the Google Analytics 4 (GA4) user interface from 12 February 2024
- This removal only affects reporting as Google signals will continue to be collected
- GA4 will continue to rely on its three existing identification methods; modelling, Device ID, and User ID
What’s changed with Google signals and why
Google recently announced an update for Google Analytics 4 (GA4): As of February 12, 2024, Google signals will be removed from the reporting identity across all GA4 properties.
This change of direction in GA4 seems to be related to privacy regulatory. Announcing this update, Google re-emphasised its commitment to provide effective measurement tools while complying with privacy and regulatory requirements.
What the removal of Google signals means
The removal of Google signals from the reporting identity means that:
- Demographics and interest data from signed-in, consented users will be excluded from GA4 user reports
- Cross-device tracking and conversion attribution may be impacted as GA4 will no longer rely on Google’s Device Graph (Google signals) to identify and map user activities cross-device
- Less data thresholding in GA4 reports when using the Blended or Observed reporting identity, which means GA4 reports are more likely to report on more data points
Only limited to reporting, not data collection
This change is limited to reporting features and does not cease the collection of Google signals data. This means:
- GA4 will continue to collect valuable user data when consented
- Users can still create GA4 audiences based on Google signals user data for remarketing in linked Google Marketing Platforms
- Users can still create GA4 conversions for bid optimisation in linked Google Marketing Platforms
How to preview the changes now
Prior to the deprecation date, you can get a preview of this change by disabling the “Include Google signals in reporting identity” option in GA4 > Admin > Property settings > Data collection and modification > Data collection > Google signals data collection.
What happens to GA4 reporting identities
As Google signals are being removed, GA4 will continue to rely on its three existing identification methods (modelling, Device ID, and User ID) to report on users attributes and allow for audience analysis. Among them, User ID is the best option to ensure cross-device tracking and conversion attribution are not affected.
For an explanation on the different reporting identities and their use cases see GA4 reporting identities: User ID, Client ID, and Google signals compared. It will give you a better understanding of how you can utilise other reporting methods to optimise GA4 reports.
There’s no reason to panic with this new update. The removal of Google signals will have minimal impact on user reports, but it will not affect other GA4 reports and functions. There will also be changes to GA4 to ensure demographic and interest data are still collected and providing user insights. The update aims to reinforce Google’s continued commitment to privacy compliance while still providing advertisers key information strategic decision-making and ensuring user privacy.