All About Cross-Device Targeting

There’s no doubt that we’re living in an increasingly mobile world. With recent news that people are searching more on their mobile devices than on their desktop computers in many countries – coupled with Google’s mobile algorithm update – you should be thinking about how you can market to your audience better. How to catch them when they’re on the go, and make sure that experience mirrors the one they’ll have when they’re sitting at their desks. Plus, knowing where your customers spend most of their time can help you narrow down budget allocations.

Target Across Devices

Cross-device targeting is up and coming (if not up and here), though logistics can be difficult. With cookie tracking on its way out (or as some say “dead” thanks to lack of reliability on mobile), following users from desktop, to mobile, to tablet and back to desktop again is a big challenge. As a PPC agency based in Atlanta but serving large brands across the country, we have paid close attention to the trend in this very important direction. Here’s what we’ve noticed: though proper attribution can be difficult at this stage because of the inability to track exactly what device is being used, technology is working toward a solution.

As consumers get more sophisticated and attention spans shorten, cross-device targeting becomes ever more important. Though cookies for tracking are still useful for retargeting, they simply can’t accurately tell you the whole story of a customer’s journey. Optimizing your campaigns for all touch-points is a must. Your website must be mobile-friendly; your ads specific to mobile devices as well as desktop; and your content on these varied devices should be unique to them but consistent with each other. Once these are all checked off, you can look into new and revolutionary ways to keep tabs on your target audience, and understand which points along the customer purchasing journey matter the most.

Growing Solutions, Growing Pains

The key to all of this is that you have to get to know YOUR customers. Survey them to see whether they prefer a mobile experience, and then allocate more budget there (or if they prefer desktop, there).

Several platforms are growing allow for genuinely identifying customers and tracking where they are and where they go. Two of these are probabilistic and deterministic matching, new and revolutionary (albeit controversial) technologies. Privacy concerns abound when consumers think of these following them around, but they can be extremely effective for marketers and advertisers.

  • Deterministic – This uses “Personally Identifiable Information” (PII) to match devices when the same email address is used to login to apps and websites. If users are logged in (which most of us are, at most times), advertisers can theoretically track them and target them in multiple locations. (Enter, privacy concerns).
  • Probabilistic – These type of cross-device tracking uses a slightly less controversial algorithmic method, which analyzes thousands of data points to create “likely” matches across devices. According to this article: “…if a phone, a tablet and a laptop connect to the same networks or Wi-Fi hotspots in the same places every weekday, it’s safe to surmise that all three devices belong to a specific commuter.” The concept is a little futuristic… that’s why we only said “slightly” less controversial!

As vendors roll out platforms that perform these functions, cross-device targeting will grow even more. Managing what ads show to individual consumers on different devices and with what frequency will be key to determining what works and what doesn’t when you follow people who are on-the-go. Understanding the paths consumers take to purchasing will bring more clarity to what touch-points are most important, the timing of reminders, and what most influences purchasing decisions.

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