Cross-device conversions can now be reported at keyword-level in Google's search, display and shopping ad products.

This means advertisers can optimise for cross-device conversions within their automated bid strategies, for example looking at cost per acquisiton (CPA) across mobile, tablet and desktop.

What does this mean in the context of other recent Google product updates?

Marketers will further understand the impact of mobile

Mobile searchers now represent the majority in a number of markets. Yet the device is under-represented when comparing conversions with desktop.

If a user clicks an ad on mobile, fails to convert but returns to desktop to complete the action, Google will chalk this up as a cross-device conversion (for both search and display ads).

This is done by extrapolating the behaviour of signed-in users. Watch the short video below for a basic explanation.

The reason for doing this was obvious, Google wants to convince tunnel-visioned marketers of the value of mobile advertising.

That's because many users of AdWords adjust down their mobile bids because they see it as a device that does not convert, rather than one that snares the users through 'micro-moments' (Google's term) and as a vital part of the funnel.

Certainly, there are some industries where mobile is responsible for more micro-moments than others.

Google released data in June that detailed average conversion uplift when cross-device behaviour was taken into account. Retail AdWords conversions in the US increase by a whopping 16% with cross-device tracking enabled.

With these benchmark uplifts, Google was explicitly telling advertisers to spend more on mobile inventory.

Cross-device conversions effectively lower the cost per acquisiton (CPA) of advertising through mobile, so advertisers can increase mobile budgets and bids, without affecting ROI.

Of course, there are some caveats here. The concept of a conversion varies wildly and only by experimenting will companies truly determine the relationship between mobile advertising and desktop conversions (and vice versa).

But Google is still trying to shorten the funnel 

Google has been busy improving the mobile ad experience, both through improved ad extensions (e.g. location information) but also by introducing new mobile ad formats.

'Buy' buttons in Google shopping are one example of a new ad format.

What this means is Google is increasingly trying to guarantee a smooth customer experience within mobile ad formats.

So, the hope is not just to track how mobile plays a part in cross-device conversions but, of course, to increase mobile conversions, too, as much as possible.

Jerry Dischler, VP of Product Management at Google Adwords, discussed Google's intention to create new ad formats for all sectors.

Aside from general purpose updates we’re going to be doing a lot more there, we have a lot planned for 2016.

The whole point of vertical-specific formats is to drive people from their initial expression of intent, to conversion as quickly as possible. ...We’re also doing this in financial services, travel and automotive. ...We’re intending to expand that set of verticals in a scalable way so that all advertisers have these more structured formats.

buy now in google ads

Tracking multi-device conversion rate will offer insight

Multi-device conversion rate is a metric that many will already track but Google's rollout of cross-device conversions makes this easier.

By looking at device conversion rate (individual device conversions as a percentage of all-device traffic) over time alongside multi-device conversion rate, it will be possible to track trends in contribution by each device.

Advertisers will be able to further understand how different ad groups perform across device and change their strategy accordingly.

It's not just devices Google wants us to understand 

This cross-device rollout can be seen alongside Google's 'Store Visits' product, allowing the tracking of store visits prompted by AdWords, and call tracking as Google's tying up of data to state the full value of its ads.

With Customer Match now allowing advertisers to target known users, too, it's exciting times for AdWords practitioners keen to prove their worth.

Ben Davis

Published 28 October, 2015 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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