A Guide to Audience Signals in GA4 | GlowMetrics

Aug 8th 2023

Google Analytics

3 min read

Posted by Kyle Crooks

A Guide to Audience Signals in GA4

To put it simply, the Audience Signal feature in GA4 is a method of collecting additional data on Google Users who are signed into their Google account or have Ad...

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To put it simply, the Audience Signal feature in GA4 is a method of collecting additional data on Google Users who are signed into their Google account or have Ad Personalisation enabled. Audience Signals allows a number of tracking features within GA4, granting the property owner more data on user journey, user interests and demographics.

The following information has been taken from Google’s Official Support Documentation. We recommend consulting your legal team before enabling Audience Signals in GA4, as your site must adhere to the policy requirements for Google Analytics Advertising. A number of official Google sources and documentation are listed at the bottom of this blog post.


Why should you turn on Audience Signals in GA4?

You may ask yourself, ‘Why do we need this?’ or maybe even ‘is this actually a legal requirement?! – this sounds scary and too much effort’, though the positives definitely outweigh the negatives for any business that uses data to make business decisions. The following features are enabled as part of Audience Signals in GA4:


– More reporting data/more data on the users on your site

Audience Signals allows your GA4 property to track users cross-device based on their Google accounts/if the user has Ad Personalization turned on. GA4 can then associate collected data (across numerous sessions) to users who visit your site across a user journey via numerous devices (that a user is signed in to Google on).

Therefore, turning Google Signals on can allow you a better ‘understanding of user behaviour at each step of the conversion process, from initial contact to conversion and beyond‘.


– Remarketing with Google Analytics

Because you can track users across multiple devices, you can now remarket to them across multiple devices. If you have Audience Signals enabled and GA4 linked to advertising accounts/Google Ads audiences can be created in GA4 and then published to Google Ads. You can then ‘serve ads in Cross Device-eligible remarketing campaigns to Google users who have turned on Ads Personalization.‘


– Demographics and Interests

Similar to what was collected and reported on in GA3/Universal, enabling Audience Signals will collect and report on the demographics (gender & age) of users who engage with your site and what Google-defined interest buckets they fall into based on their web engagement.


– A few other things to note:

– ‘By default, Google signed-in data expires after 26 months. However, if the Analytics Data Retention setting is set to anything shorter than 26 months, the Google signed-in data will respect this shorter time frame.’ Currently, user and event data retention is restricted to either 2 months or 14 months. Setting it to 14 months will allow you to hold data for longer.

– Google Signals does not support iOS 14+ and any devices using the new version of the iOS software.

– For reports in GA4 to show Audience Signals Data, the account must have an average of 500 users per day per property. 


What you’ll need to do before you turn Audience Signals on?

Of course, turning audience signals on sounds like a great idea – though before you do, you must ensure your site complies with the policy requirement for Google Analytics Advertising Features (of which Audience Signals falls under*). – This is the main reason why Audience Signals is not enabled by default.

*Google Analytics Advertising features include:

  • Remarketing with Google Analytics
  • Google Display Network Impression Reporting
  • Google Analytics Demographics and Interest Reporting
  • Integrated Services that require Google Analytics to collect data for advertising purposes. 


While you must ensure your site adheres to the policy, you must also declare to users by disclosing the following information in your sites privacy policy:

  • Any Google Analytics Advertising that has been enabled
  • ‘How you and third-party vendors use first-party cookies (such as the Google Analytics cookie) or other first-party identifiers, and third-party cookies (such as Google advertising cookies) or other third-party identifiers together.’
  • ‘How visitors can opt-out of the Google Analytics Advertising Features you use, including through Ads Settings, Ad Settings for mobile apps, or any other available means (for example, the NAI’s consumer opt-out).’

You must also comply with the European Union user-consent policy, the Japan user-consent policy and any applicable policies of any Google services linked to your GA4 (see the source ‘[GA4] Policy requirements for Google Analytics Advertising Features’ for more information).


How to turn on Audience Signals in GA4:

Go to the ‘Admin’ Section in your selected GA4 Property:

In the ‘Property Menu’, select ‘Data Collection’ under the ‘Data Settings’ dropdown.

Toggle the ‘Google Signals Data Collection’ and the ‘Granular locations and device data collection’ switch and confirm your agreement with the user Data Collection Acknowledgement. 

Once all three have been completed, your property will start to collect the described data. 


Official Google Sources:

[GA4] Activate Google signals for Google Analytics 4 properties 

[GA4] Policy Requirements for Google Analytics Advertising Features

Google Analytics linking and property moving

EU user consent policy

Google Analytics Opt-out Browser Add-on

Google Advertising Cookies Policy

Google Ads Data Protection Terms Troubleshooter


If you found this blog useful and would like to read more blogs from the GlowMetrics Team, check out our Digital Marketing Blog and Digital Analytics Blog. Or if you would like updates on all things GlowMetrics, then Sign Up for our Newsletter

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Posted by
Kyle Crooks

Kyle is a Digital Marketing Executive at GlowMetrics, working on digital marketing campaigns for a range of clients via Google Ads, Bing Ads, social media, and other platforms.
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