A clear cross-device strategy is more important than ever. While there are increasingly more smartphone users and tablet owners, most digital consumers are not necessarily planning on replacing one type of device with another. Rather, they are using multiple access points to get online.

On average, 67 per cent of people shift between devices during their online purchase process. That is as much as two out of every three transactions.

The Need for Cross-Device Tracking

It has become habitual for users to toggle between laptops and desktops to tablets and smartphones throughout the day. Without the right insights about your customers and their behaviour, including cross-device activity, it will be hard to communicate effectively and reach them with the right message at the right time.

Figuring out the cross-device process can help to reduce the risk and losses of putting your advertising budget in the wrong placements and help you identify the first point of impact to earning repeat lifetime business. At the same time, it is important to balance this with a focus on building good customer relationships — viewing consumers as unique individuals, rather than simply working to reach particular devices.

It is quick for us to jump to the conclusion that people are spending more time on mobile, or people are more likely to finish their transactions on desktops; but bear in mind that each device can have a different connection with different people, and each of them can play a different role in the purchase cycle of different products.

With cross-device tracking, a marketer can know if a person using smartphone X is actually the same person who uses tablet Y and laptop Z, and then retarget that same individual accordingly.

The inability to track consumers across devices is a hindrance to accurate marketing attribution. Imperfect, single touchpoint measurement tactics disproportionately give all conversion credit to the last ad — and as a result last device — clicked. If a mobile device is proved to result in a later purchase on desktop, then brands may possibly be willing to spend more on mobile, so the thinking goes.

The Current State of Cross-Device Identification

The most exact way to establish a user’s identity on mobile is through deterministic matching, which relies on login or personally identifiable information such as an email.

Facebook, for example, has the deterministic ability to do cross-device reporting, which helps advertisers understand the user’s path to purchase and the device a person used when he or she made a purchase. Users have to sign in for both their desktop and mobile experiences, thus allowing Facebook to offer precise retargeting capabilities across devices.

The other method of cross-device tracking is through probabilistic tracking. This is a far more complex method that uses data analysis and algorithms to associate multiple devices to a specific consumer. Companies like Drawbridge have developed proprietary ways to identify users without using login data.

What’s Next for Marketers in the Multi-Device World?

Accurate measurement helps advertisers grow their business, and cross-device insights will help advertisers understand which ads can help move their customers along the path to purchase.

Some of the latest and greatest ad formats are primarily mobile-first in design and mobile-optimised. This is important in the context of a marketer’s entire program. Take Dynamic Product Ads — Facebook can decide which of your products to show a consumer using a variety of techniques such as co-purchasing and co-browsing behaviour. For example, if people on your web site or mobile app frequently purchase pants, Facebook will learn to cross-sell shirts whenever pants are sold.

Cross-device success is more than delivering ads across devices. Tracking and measurement will help marketers understand the consumer engagement and actions attributed to different consumer patterns.

By working with partners — like Kenshoo — that are actively exploring ways to solve cross-device challenges, marketers can make decisions and optimise campaigns based on a full understanding of customer lifetime value and path to conversion across desktop and mobile.

About the author

About the Authors

Kent Toh is the Strategic Services Manager at Kenshoo in Hong Kong which is a corporate member of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Members contribute their expertise and insights to Which-50 for the benefit of our senior executive audience. Membership fees apply.


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