Cross-Device Tracking Will Expand Mobile Advertising

Tracking activity between desktops and mobile devices is finally a reality.  Google announced it would begin showing advertisers paid search conversions that begin on one device, like a smartphone, and end on another, like a laptop.  Microsoft followed with plans to build its own tracking system across devices.  New companies, like Drawbridge and Tapad, have also developed proprietary technologies that retarget desktop users with ads on mobile devices.  Cross-device tracking will open up incredible advertising opportunities on mobile devices.  But are advertisers ready?  Below are just a few mobile trends advertisers can expect from a cross-device tracking world.

Larger mobile budgets. The data from cross-device tracking could be the key to finally unlocking advertising spend on mobile devices.  Despite the pervasive usage of smartphones and tablets, mobile advertising budgets are still relatively low because back-end conversions, such as sales and subscriptions, are still typically driven through laptops and desktops.   But cross-device conversions, like those Google will provide for paid search, can tip the scales in mobile’s favor.  Cross-device conversions will provide numerical evidence to support mobile’s role in driving laptop and desktop conversions.  As a result, mobile advertising budgets will likely grow.



More sequential messaging. Cross-device tracking highlights the power of using sequential messaging across devices.  To illustrate, imagine an ecommerce advertiser that uses deal-oriented creative across all device types.  With cross-device tracking, the advertiser discovers that desktop sales are always preceded by smartphone activity.  Rather than using a mobile call-to-action to try converting consumers on a smartphone, the advertiser should use smartphone creative that best fuels a desktop conversion.  Perhaps it is review- or research-based content.  By revealing the order of devices that led to a conversion, cross-device tracking lets advertisers use sequential messaging to show the right message at the right time.

Better media mix. Cross-channel attribution credits each advertising channel with a portion of a conversion based on its contribution.  This currently only works on laptops and desktops.  But it won’t be long before companies like VisualIQ and Adobe incorporate cross-device tracking into their own cross-channel attribution algorithms.  This combination would tell advertisers exactly which mobile channels and tactics are working best, even if the conversion happened on a desktop or laptop.  It could be paid search on smartphones or rich ad units on tablets.  Advertisers that embrace the inevitable marriage of cross-channel attribution and cross-device tracking can create media plans that are more effective and efficient.

Cross-device tracking empowers advertisers to make smarter decisions about mobile.  But this is just the beginning.  Industry giants Amazon and Facebook will likely begin using their own login-based data to help advertisers reach customers across devices.  Microsoft is also planning on including the Xbox into its tracking technology, which will add TV into the mix.  Early adopters of cross-device tracking will be in the best position to capitalize on the immediate mobile advertising opportunities as well as future ones that will surely become available as cross-device tracking evolves.

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