Cross Device Attribution

Cross Device Attribution

By Ryan Koonce

More than ever, people are visiting your product from phones, tables, laptops and work computers.

Cross device tracking is going from an optional nicety to a necessary call. Identifying your users on each device is the key to correlating their sessions and properly attributing referral sources.

Identifying Users

Identifying users with a unique user ID is essential. When identify is called for a specific user, all previous and future events on that device will be associated with that user. The key here is that previous events are associated as well. This allows for properly tracking many different cross device scenarios, such as the following:

  • Marcus is browsing his news feed on his phone and clicks a post about your product. He’s interested, but doesn’t sign up right away.
  • Later that week, Marcus decides to checkout your product again, but this time visits your domain directly from his computer. He decides to sign up. When he does so, your software makes anidentify call with a unique user id.
  • In a couple days, Marcus logs in to your app from his phone. On login, your software makes an identify call with Marcus’s unique user id. All of his browsing history on this device is now properly tied to his account and that original click from his news feed will be properly attributed for his conversion.

This might seem like an edge case, but these days it’s too common to ignore.

How To

Properly tracking this scenario is simple:

  • Make an identify call on your client side software (JS, iOS, Android, etc) whenever a user signs up or logs in (and pass a unique user id)

In order to associate traits with your user, we recommend making an additional server side identify call. This way you can associate information that you might not have in your client software.

It’s sometimes common to call identify using the email address instead of a user ID. This is, of course, a problem when a user changes their email. Tracking with the ID is really the best practice.