Journey IQ: Cross-Device Analytics Connecting your customer's journey across digital brand touchpoints in Adobe Analytics

What Is Cross-Device Analytics?

I Am Not My Devices

When users interact with your brand they do so in many ways and on multiple "surfaces" or "devices." They might use a web browser on a PC or mobile device, or they may use a mobile app. In traditional digital analytics, which grew up in data collection based on cookies, each of these surfaces is represented as a unique "visitor." This means each of your human users is represented as a multiple unique visitors.

Here's an example. Suppose Isabelle interacted with your brand in the following way:

Isabelle is three visitors

Using traditional analytics, Isabelle's journey is fractured into three pieces. She is represented as three unique visitors, each of whom used a different device to perform isolated tasks. What is needed is a unified, cross-device view of Isabelle's interactions. Journey IQ: Cross-Device Analytics provides this view.

Isabelle is one person

A Cross-Device View Provides Better Analytics

Having a person-centric, cross-device view of Isabelle's behavior can make a significant difference to your analysis. For example, the traditional visitor-based approach doesn't give you the complete picture of the customer experience. Let's look at Isabelle's journey once again, focusing in on which activity receives credit for her product view and for her purchase. We'll use last-touch attribution in this example, although all attribution models are affected in similar ways. Using the traditional visitor-based view of the world gives very different results than does cross-device analysis:

Traditional Analytics vs. Cross-Device Analytics

Notice that with the cross-device view, the community question receives credit for both the product view and the purchase, which more accurately represents Isabelle's real world experience.

On the remainder of this page, you will learn about:

  • How Cross-Device Analytics Works
  • Prerequisites For Cross-Device Analytics
  • Interpreting Cross-Device Data
  • Analyzing Cross-Device Data in Analysis Workspace
  • Frequently Asked Questions

How Does Cross-Device Analytics Work?

CDA includes unrivaled capabilities and tools to help your enterprise understand multi-device usage and the customer experience across those devices in their interactions with your brand. CDA sits as a data layer below Analysis Workspace to provide deep insight into person-based audience analysis and cross-device attribution, segmentation and journey analysis using powerful tools such as Fallout, Flow, Cohort, Segment IQ and Attribution IQ.

Co-op Graph, Private Graph, or Field-based Stitching

Journey IQ: Cross-Device Analytics (CDA) uses one of three different methods to identify how devices map to people:

  • The Adobe Experience Platform Co-op Graph
  • The Adobe Experience Platform Private Graph
  • Field-based stitching via a prop or eVar

CDA customers may choose any one of these three options as the basis for cross-device stitching. Each option has slightly different technical requirements, although they achieve a similar goal: cross-device analysis. For more information, see Prerequisites For Cross-Device Analytics below.

The Cross-Device Virtual Report Suite

CDA is presented through a special kind of cross-device Virtual Report Suite. This allows you to continue to use the original device-based report suite as you introduce cross-device analytics into your organization. Setting up a CDA VRS is easy.

In step one of the VRS builder, choose the report suite that has been configured by Adobe as CDA-enabled:

Choose a CDA-enabled base (source) report suite

Then turn on Report Time Processing and enable cross-device stitching:

Enable report-time processing and cross-device stitching

Finish the VRS setup and save it. The CDA VRS will show up in Analysis Workspace with a special icon next to it as shown below:

Select the CDA VRS in Analysis Workspace

You may create as many CDA virtual report suites as you like on top of the CDA-enabled base report suite.

Restating History

Sometimes it takes a while for your users to log in and for the Co-op Graph or Private Graph to identify them and map together their devices. CDA utilizes a lookback window (typically 1 day or 7 days), allowing it to restate a previously unidentified visitor as a person.

How does this help? Recall Isabelle's user journey from the discussion above:

It is possible that Isabelle did not log in until just prior to making the purchase. But CDA's lookback allows it to restate Isabelle's past behavior as belonging to her, providing you with the cross-device view of her journey that you need.

NOTE: Since history can be restated, this means your data may change over time in a CDA-enabled virtual report suite. Keep this in mind as you communicate insights from a CDA-based analysis.

Prerequisites For Cross-Device Analytics

CDA is included with Analytics Ultimate. Analytics Ultimate customers who meet the prerequisites listed below are eligible to use CDA. The prerequisites for CDA are as follows:

  • If your company elects to utilize the Co-op Graph or Private Graph, you must implement Experience Cloud ID (ECID) and ID syncing for the graph. Note that in addition to technical requirements, the Co-op Graph has other legal and contractual requirements.
  • If your company elects to utilize field-based stitching, you must store a hashed user identifier in a prop or eVar when the user is known (typically when the user is logged in.) Note that field-based stitching does not require that you implement ECID, although ECID may still be required for other features of Adobe Analytics.
  • It is not possible to stitch visitors across IMS orgs with the private graph or field-based stitching. In these cases you must standardize on a single IMS org. In certain circumstances it may be possible for a customer with multiple IMS orgs to use the Co-op Graph.
  • Stitching occurs at a report suite level. CDA requires a "cross-device" report suite. That is, the report suite you use for CDA must include data from multiple different device types or "surfaces" such as desktop web, mobile web, and mobile app.
  • The Co-op Graph is available in North America only. Private Graph and field-based stitching are available worldwide.

Out of a spirit of partnership and transparency, we want our customers to be aware of our use of Microsoft Azure in association with Cross-Device Analytics. Adobe uses Azure to store device graph and Analytics data and to perform cross-device stitching. As such, Adobe Analytics data is passed back-and-forth between Adobe's data processing center and Adobe’s provisioned instances of Microsoft Azure.

A note on privacy

Cross-Device Analytics allows you to stitch together data which may include the merging of user data from authenticated and unauthenticated sessions. Please ensure that you are complying with applicable laws and regulations, including obtaining necessary end users permissions, prior to using CDA.

Interpreting Cross-Device Data

People Not Visitors

Within the CDA Virtual Report Suite, you'll see a few changes. For example, the Unique Visitors metric is replaced by two new metrics: People and Unique Devices. These new metrics give you far better insight into audience size.

People and Unique Devices

Segment Containers

In the Segment Builder, the Visitor segment container has been replaced by a Person segment container. Using a CDA VRS, you can create cross-device segments such as:

  • People who use more than one device
  • People who begin their journey on a mobile device and then later purchase on a desktop device
  • Visits where people use more than one device to accomplish a task
Person-level segments

Dimension Persistence

Within a CDA VRS, dimensions such as eVars now automatically persist across devices. For example, an eVar that is configured as:

  • Allocation: Most Recent (Last)
  • Expire after: Purchase

will now automatically persist from one device to another until the Purchase event is fired.

Analyzing Cross-Device Data in Analysis Workspace

Getting Started with a CDA template

Analysis Workspace includes a template for use with Cross-Device Analytics. This template can be helpful for educating new users on key concepts related to cross-device analysis.

Launching the Cross-Device Analysis Template
Cross-Device Analysis template

The Cross-Device Analysis template must be used within a cross-device virtual report suite. For more information on the template, see the Cross-Device Analytics documentation and adobe.ly/aacdatemplate.

Person-Based Audience Analysis

Have you ever wondered how many people are interacting with your brand? Have you wanted to understand how many and what type of devices they use? How does their usage overlap? Using a CDA VRS, you can create cross-device Venn diagrams and devices-per-person histograms.

Person-based audience analysis

Cross-Device Flow

With CDA and Analysis Workspace, you can visualize how people are moving from one device to another over time in the Flow visualization. You can see where they drop out in their journey, and where they carry on.

Flow with CDA

Cross-Device Fallout

You likely use several Fallout visualizations to analyze how well users make it through a given series of steps prior to achieving success. Did you know your view of those Fallout visualizations is limited when using traditional device-based analytics? In order to successfully "fall-through", the next step must occur in the same browser or app as the previous step. In device-based analytics, you are blind to people who successfully complete the next step on another device.

Not to worry, CDA has you covered. CDA creates the cross-device view that makes Fallout visualizations much, much more useful. After all, what really matters is whether the person ultimately succeeded in their task somewhere.

Fallout with CDA

Cross-Device Attribution IQ

Because CDA creates a layer of cross-device data underneath Analysis Workspace, all your analysis will be flavored with a cross-device perspective. One powerful example is through Attribution IQ. Attribution IQ in Analysis Workspace allows you compare multiple attribution models side-by-side. Using this capability with CDA, you can now compare how different devices contribute to success.

For example, suppose you want to understand how often a mobile phone is the first device used in an interaction that ultimately leads to success. This represents the "acquisition rate" of the mobile phone. CDA + Attribution IQ allows you to do this analysis:

Attribution IQ with CDA


Cross-Device Analytics vs. The People Metric

A common question about Cross-Device Analytics is how it is similar to or different from the People metric. The chart below highlights the key differences between these two capabilities:

The main thing to note is that the People metric (available with Analytics Select or higher) is a metric only. A truly cross-device stitched view of your data requires Cross-Device Analytics (available with Analytics Ultimate.)

More information about the People metric can be found in these locations:

Cross-Device Analytics (CDA) vs. Customer Journey Analytics (CJA)

Customer Journey Analytics (CJA) is a new offering that allows you to analyze your customer's journey across channels using any data available to you in Adobe Experience Platform, leveraging the power of Analysis Workspace for rapid insights. Customer Journey Analytics lets you control how you connect your online and offline data in Analysis Workspace on any common person ID, finally allowing you to do attribution, segmentation, and journey analysis across your entire customer dataset in Adobe Analytics.

The chart below provides a comparison of Customer Journey Analytics and Cross-Device Analytics:

Cross-Device Analytics vs. Customer Journey Analytics

Ready for more content?

Visit our Cross-Device Analytics help documentation for more information.

See Nils Engel and Matt Freestone in their 2020 Adobe Virtual Summit presentation about Cross-Device Analytics: Cross-Device Analytics: Top Tips to Tackle the Complex Customer Journey

Visit adobe.ly/aaresources for a full list of Adobe Analytics Spark pages & other helpful resources.

Created By
Matt Freestone