Creating a Mobile Profile in Google Analytics

Google Analytics has been improving their mobile reporting but there are two main issues still:

1 - Mobile visits not being captured as mobile.

If the Operating System isn’t captured, it’s coming into Google Analytics as “(not set)” and doesn’t get counted as Mobile traffic. In my experience I’ve seen this come in as less than 1% of traffic to more than 3% of traffic. Not a lot on the whole, but if most of that is would be mobile traffic, and mobile traffic is already a single digit percentage of your traffic, it becomes more significant.

Operating System (not set) is usually Not considered Mobile in GA

Then more recently, there have been issues recognizing iOS 5, as indicated in this report looking at Mobile > Devices  and drilled down to Apple.

Drop in Apple Mobile Device in October

2 - No easy filter to set up a mobile-only profile.

Even if missing a small amount of traffic wasn’t a problem for you, we don’t have a simple way to add a “mobile” filter to a profile. So there isn’t an easy way to create a profile that shows only organic search traffic from mobile devices.

Solution: Multiple Filters to Capture More Mobile Data

So, I’ve developed a set of filters that address both of these issues. In the test cases we used to develop this, the new profile captured between 0.5% and 2.25% more mobile traffic than Google’s Mobile profile. This was significant for one client we were working with, but may not be significant for everyone’s needs.

Here’s the summary (in proper filter order):

SEER - 1) Rename Windows CE SEER - 1) Rename Opera Mini SEER - 1) Rename Sony Ericsson SEER - 1) Rename Nokia Other SEER - 1) Rename Samsung Other SEER - 2) Rename Unknown OS with Small Screen Size SEER - 3) Include Mobile OS All RegEx

These filters rename the Operating System for several variations that should be considered mobile based on browser. Then capture a few more with an updated RegEx for small screen size. Finally, the last filter pulls everything together with one Include filter for mobile Operating Systems (including those we’ve renamed.)

Filter Rename Windows CE

These screenshots are in old GA because you can see more of the filter name. This filter renames the Operating System to Windows CE when the Windows version is CE so our final include filter can capture it.


Filter Rename Opera Mini

I found anywhere from 10-30% of (not set) to use the browser Opera Mini. This filter extracts those and renames them “Unknown OS Opera Mini”.


Filter Rename Sony Ericsson, Nokia, & Samsung

Similarly, I found many variations for mobile browsers, that also had the operating system as (not set) and weren't being captured as mobile:

Samsung Sony & Nokia Browsers for (not set) OS

These next three filters rename as “Sony Ericsson Other,” “Nokia Other,” and “Samsung Other.”


RegEx: sonyericsson*


RegEx: nokia*


RegEx: samsung|gt-s*

Filter Rename Unknown OS with Small Screen Size

We’ve captured a lot already filtering by browser, but there’s still a chunk with both Operating System and Browser set to “(not set)”. So to capture the last of these, I used this method for capturing by screen size. But I updated the RegEx to capture more screen sizes, including the iPhone 4.



Then using this filter rename the remaining “(not set)” that are also a small screen size: Unknown OS Small Browser.


Notably, this does not capture the Kindle 3 or NOOK (600x800) or the iPad (1024x768) because these tablet screen resolutions are similar to small monitors. This makes screen size one of the least reliable indicators of mobile traffic and a last resort in this series of filters to capture what couldn’t be captured by Operating System or Browser.

Filter Include Mobile OS All RegEx

Finally, we pull all of the renames, and other mobile operating systems, with one big Include.

Mobile Filter - OS Include RegEx

Here’s the RegEx:

Android|BlackBerry|^iP|Windows CE|Hiptop|Ezweb|LGE?|MOT|Nokia|NTT DoCoMo|PalmOS|Portable|Samsung|SoftBank|Sony|SymbianOS|Vodafone|other$|Phone|^Unknown


Uses & Limitations

There we go! You can use this mobile filter set on its own to see mobile traffic, or mix it with other filters (keeping filter order in mind) to track other things, such as organic search. With a single mobile profile, you can take a closer look at how your mobile users specifically interact with the site. Some ideas to get you started:

  • Conversion reports, the mobile users convert at a different rate or convert on different items?
  • Organic Search, do mobile users come in on different keywords?
  • Landing Pages, are your most popular landing pages optimized for mobile?

When using these filters, please keep in mind one big limitation: operating systems & browsers change. We started testing these filters back in September, and already had to make one change when “Windows Phone” started to come in as an Operating System on November 15. It’s a good idea to regularly check the profile against an unfiltered profile to make sure you continue to pull in as much or more traffic than is shown in the normal Mobile reporting. On the flip side, the small screen size filter also grabbed additional mobile traffic on Nov. 14 & 15 before Google added “Windows Phone” as an operating system. In addition, there are numerous one-off Operating Systems that may come and go, though if they are only accounting for a handful of visits a year, they shouldn't significantly impact your numbers.

We’ve tested this profile with a few different clients, but if you test it too, let us know if it works for you.

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Michelle Noonan
Michelle Noonan
Sr. Lead, Digital Measurement Solutions