Tracking Mobile Devices in Google Analytics

Today, people are more mobile and so is the Internet. People pay bills, read news, do shopping, and more using their mobile devices.

Website owners should be aware of this fact and design their sites to be mobile-device friendly.

The first questions a web analyst will be asked by website owners are: how many people visit my site using mobile devices, what is special about this segment of users, and what can I do to optimize my site for mobile device marketing?

Thanks to Google Analytics, answering these questions is as easy as 1, 2, and 3!

  1. Create a data filter to include only traffic from mobile devices.
  2. Create a profile and include the filter created in the first step.
  3. View data.

1. Create a new data filter to capture only traffic from mobile devices

  • Go to: Analytics Settings -> Filter Manager -> + Add Filter

  • In the “Filter Pattern” box, add the list of mobile devices you would like to include in your report separated by the pipe character | (Vertical Bar).

Note: Google Analytics can only track web browsers that execute JavaScript.

2. Create a profile (Ex. Mobile Devices)

  • Go to: Analytics Settings -> Add Website Profile.
  • Check the “Add a Profile for an existing domain” radio button.

  • Apply the filter created in step 1 – Mobile Devices Users – into this new profile

3. View data

Select the Mobile Devices profile. All of the data in this profile is now just for mobile devices’ visitors.

25 thoughts on “Tracking Mobile Devices in Google Analytics”

  1. This is a great post. I’m looking for a master list of devices to put in the filter pattern. I can’t find anything on GA’s help section. Where did you discover that list?


  2. This list was compiled from looking at the Operating System report for several different websites.

    Maybe someone else who reads your comment might know of a website that has a list of the most common mobile/non-computer operating systems.

  3. Lol – hmmm hate to say this but how exactly is this going to work for the 90% of handsets that dont work with Google Analytics……?

    There are 9 specialist mobile analytics vendors out here.
    You can only track mobile browsers accurately by using one of these specialist vendors.

    Dean Collins

  4. Thank you for your comments, Dean.
    At this point Google Analytics is not specialized at mobile tracking.
    And obviously it only works on mobile devices that support JavaScript.
    For very detailed and precise mobile tracking, you would need to go with a specific solution.

    However, the number of devices that support JavaScript is growing.
    And you might only be interested in seeing how owners of popular devices like the iPhone are interacting with your website.
    And for that, Google Analytics gives you what you need to know.

    We know Google Analytics is only going to get better and more powerful.
    We hope one day it will include better mobile tracking.

  5. WURFL gave me just the following.

    Hiptop OS
    iPhone OS
    Linux Smartphone OS
    Palm OS
    RIM OS
    Symbian OS
    Windows Mobile OS

    I still doubt this is everything…

  6. Thanks for the reminder, Gavin.

    We are slowly working on preparing a new post regarding the new mobilie tracking features, and then will update this article to point people to the new post.

  7. most mobile browsers out there can’t do javascript

    Google Analytics needs javascript.

    If you want to see all mobile devices you will need to look at your server logs.

  8. Hi Michael,

    The percentage of phones that can do javascript is growing quickly.

    Maybe someone who has a dinky old phone that can barely handle WAP won’t be visiting your website or doing anything useful.
    Not tracking them might not be a huge loss.

    The guys on their blackberry, iphones, and others, they interact with websites and tracking them is definitely useful.

    There are non javascript methods of tracking mobile visitors too.
    Mobile tracking is a very dynamic field and one year from now we might be wondering how we ever lived without mobile tracking!

  9. This list was compiled from looking at the Operating System report for several different websites.

    Maybe someone else who reads your comment might know of a website that has a list of the most common mobile/non-computer operating systems.

  10. What about ASUS with Interenet Mobile Explorer. It has JS but I did not succeeded to track visits to our pages

  11. Check out the new Google analytics, it has support for much more mobile devices and improved reporting. It’s pretty switch. You can also track social signals better now.

  12. You are absolutely right! The new mobile report in GA is fantastic and offers what my little hack suggested. I wrote this post back in 2008 which is way before GA announced the new feature :)

  13. Hi Ancy,

    It really depends on:
    1) how you are reporting data from the different digital properties
    2) the interaction between the mobile site and the main site

    If the mobile site is 100% independent of the main site, then maybe reporting each web property in a separate profile or event account is a good idea. But, if the mobile site depends on the main site for conversion and other main functions, then linking the two sites and reporting them to the same profile is a must.

  14. Hey all, no need to do this filter thing now, new interface of google analytics has they power to do it. Just open it and in search window type mobile and you will see 2 options, select mobile devices and done :)

    Dhanesh Mane

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