Commentary

Here's How Smart Marketers Are Doing Cross-Device

The evolution of a true cross-device ecosystem — smartphones, tablets, and computers, wearables and the Internet of Things — has given publishers and brands an array of powerful new options. The challenge, however, is to better grasp, and more precisely measure, the value of all these devices and the roles they play in driving conversions. Marketers of all stripes can learn a lot from brands getting great results from smart cross-device tactics.

Three-Point Strategy: Audience, Goals, and Sequencing

As has been widely discussed, cookies can be unreliable in the mobile multiscreen space (and won’t work in apps). That leaves the pursuit of cross-device metrics to mainly deterministic (log-in data) and probabilistic (algorithmic) methods for matching: still the two de facto ways to identify a user in tandem with a given device.

So what has changed, and what is changing, for cross-device targeting? We can focus on three approaches that we’re seeing advertisers use:

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First-party data defines audience. As eMarketer notes, brands’ use of customer behavior data to match users to devices is increasing to among 90% of brands surveyed. And that data often belongs to publishers to use already, as it emerges from site traffic, customer-relations management, and the like.

Objectives and expectations must align with cross-device strengths. Cross-device best practices should primarily focus on the goal of reaching a finite number of users many times on multiple devices. In this way, marketing begins to understand consumer behaviors and conversion points within a given user type. This is almost entirely the opposite of a typical omnichannel strategy, but it is the hallmark of successful cross-device programs.

Sequencing: build the narrative. In a well-constructed cross-device program, every device and environment is served its own creative, and each message is served to each device once per user. After users see one video ad on a tablet, for example, and they are assigned to an audience segment, they then receive the next ad on the next device. The concept is one of narrative draw, a journey into the funnel. In this way, marketers can create high-value segments.

Learning from Successful Cross-Device Campaigns

What does it look like when a campaign in the cross-device ecosystem fires on all the cylinders we’ve just considered? Here’s what a major financial advertiser achieved on a recent cross-device campaign.

Mobile prospecting is conversion prospecting. The financial advertiser saw a 40% lift on conversion rate by tracking cross-device conversions.

Cross-device is a lens onto lifetime value (LTV). Cross-device attribution provided new insight into user life-stages and device actions. For middle-tier LTV users, 42% of the measured actions were cross-device. Middle-LTV users converted on a device different from the one they used to consume media 68% more often than users in the highest LTV tier.

Cross-device finely tunes future lifetime-value tactics: Targeting specifically those middle-LTV users across mobile devices, the advertiser saw an 83% increase in conversion rate.

The future that cross-device is helping to create is one rich with a new understanding of value, an understanding not fully available when measured by a single device via last-touch attribution.

As cross-device programs continue to evolve, publishers and brands will continue to shift perceptions of the role device type plays. From discrete models to ones that include a network of interactive components, marketing will be increasing empowered to identify when a given mobile device is in fact a touchpoint that assists in driving a conversion on another device, mobile or not.

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