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Tracking Between Devices

The cross-tracking between devices (Cross-Device Tracking) refers to the cross-device analysis of visitor flows to a web portal. In this method, visitors are not tagged with a cookie, but with an identification.


Whereas internet users used to surf only from their desktop, the use of web content has moved to many different devices. For example, products can be discovered with a mobile device, compared later on a tablet, and finally ordered again in the office on a computer.

Advertisers were able to easily track visitor behavior using cookies for a long time. Now face logistical challenges, since users browse the web with a number of different devices. Device tracking is supposed to handle this situation by making it possible to review user behavior, even if they use different devices to visit the web portal in question. This monitoring method is commonly regarded as the future monitoring model.

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Device tracking is intended to identify specific unique users, even if they enter the Internet using different routes. Based on this analysis, segmentation or remarketing can be better targeted.


In order to track the journey of a customer or prospective customer using Universal Analytics, the visitor must be clearly marked. There are two methods of cross device tracking for this. In one method, users are marked with a Fixed ID. The other method works based on user behavior with a Device ID.

Device tracking with fixed user ID

This method is frequently used when users are clearly identified through a newsletter or login. Social networks such as Facebook or Twitter track between devices by assigning user codes. This method is also suitable for newspapers with a paywall or online stores for registered buyers. Once a user is tagged with a unique ID, the tracking program is notified each time they log in. If the same user uses their tablet later and opens the website in question as an application and connects, it can be accurately tracked.

Device tracking based on device ID

The second method of device tracking also works with user tagging. But here it is done based on various aspects and templates. Therefore considerably more data is collected, which is then analyzed. IP addresses, devices, browsers or apps are marked and combined in a user profile. The downside of this method is that not so precise such as creating profiles using an ID. But you can create IDs with it, without the need for users to register or log in.


Like almost all tracking methods in which user data is collected, cross-device tracking is frequently criticized for violate the privacy policy or data security. Because, in theory, it is technically feasible to associate user logins, their behavior, visitor routes, and personal preferences on the website of a specific person. In this way, it is essential that both advertisers and publishers comply with applicable data protection and privacy regulations and ensure that user IDs are stored without a trace.

Benefits for online marketing

Cross-device tracking enables advertisers, especially when it comes to retargeting, to precisely tailor advertising material to potential customers. At the same time, the change of media between computer, tablet or mobile device can be used for specific marketing activities. Advertisers can target customers even more effectively depending on the medium.

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