Understanding Cross-Device: 3 Things Marketers Need To Know

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, October 20, 2017

Today's consumer is device- and channel-agnostic, and switches seamlessly from device to device throughout a given day. This Thanksgiving, for example, you may research a piece of jewelry on several different blogs from your smartphone before dinner, and then purchase it on Cyber Monday from your work computer.

In light of this diverse multi-device behavior, the introduction of cross-device tracking -- the ability to identify engagement that starts on one device or browser and tie that behavior to a transaction on a different device or browser -- was a significant step for the industry. The ability to view, measure and accurately attribute sales occurring across devices and browsers is enabling marketers and publishers to understand where their customers are initiating their product research and ultimately making their purchases. They can also understand how sales are impacted by unique combinations of messages across different devices, as well as the final influencing factor that drove someone to make a purchase.

From this data, we are learning more about “cross-device shoppers” and how marketers can best engage them.

Desktop is still preferred for purchases. According to eMarketer, the average U.S. consumer spends 3.2 hours per day on mobile devices, up from 0.4 hours per day in 2010. Despite the fact that time spent on mobile is usurping time spent on desktop, cross-device shoppers overwhelmingly prefer to make purchases on desktop. This can likely be attributed to the fact that checkout experiences on mobile, although improving, are still not as optimized as desktop. More importantly, the sense of security of sending payment via mobile is secondary to that of a home or office desktop. In fact, the number of consumers with concerns about the security of using ApplePay grew from 15% in March 2015 to 20% in March 2017 (26% for Android Pay).

When it comes to search, mobile and desktop are equally important, as consumers are engaging in search across all devices (including desktop) and cross-device shoppers's path to purchase is varied, especially considering the amount of time spent in mobile apps. With search playing a key role in product discovery as well as with purchases, it's important to invest in search on both mobile and desktop for maximum exposure during the path to purchase.

Consideration is important. Cross-device shoppers spend more time in the consideration phase of the shopping journey. With a mobile device always nearby, there are more opportunities to discover, research and evaluate products while on the go, and shoppers are making purchases later on as a result. For example, within our network, 62% of cross-device transactions are occurring between the 2nd and 35th day after the initial click, compared to 13% of same-device transactions occurring during the same time frame. We are seeing fewer conversions within 24 hours of the initial click and higher conversions after day 35, compared to same-device activity. In addition, all types of publishers in our network are seeing an uptick in transactions later in the shopping journey.

In light of this behavior, marketers should deliver relevant messages that reach shoppers throughout all phases of the shopping journey to ensure their brand is top of mind up until the point of purchase. This can include content that educates consumers about the brands, products and trends they are passionate about, as well as messages focused on driving conversions.

For example, an apparel company could provide an ad highlighting how they make their products to a blog dedicated to the craft of clothing, while supplying an incentive publisher (i.e,. a website that offers cashback or points for purchases) with more commission (so they can offer their users a higher cash-back rate) in order to directly drive a conversion. Either scenario presents a unique opportunity to purchase the same products while keeping the brand top of mind.

Average order value (AOV) for a shopper who initiates product consideration on one device and completes a purchase on another is 21% higher than single-device transactions. In fact, the AOV of cross-device transactions that originated on a mobile device is three times higher than average.

Marketers can leverage this trend by creating compelling mobile product features and rich creative assets (i.e. engaging mobile banners), and making these available to mobile-oriented publishers and publisher networks.

As multi-device shopping behavior becomes more common, these strategies present exciting new angles to engage cross-device shoppers, and it's important for advertisers to diversify and expand their publisher partnerships accordingly for the remainder of 2017 and beyond. 

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