Multiple Devices

Cross-Device Targeting: Reaching the Right Audience on Multiple Devices

by admin

Our world is overflowing with consumer electronic devices: PCs, smartphones, CTVs, tablets, and game consoles. The average customer has at least two of them, and many people take advantage of every device on this list. With an average ownership of 3.6 Internet-connected devices per person in 2024, it can be hard to choose the best one for your marketing campaigns.

Fortunately, you do not have to. There is a perfect system that allows you to deliver advertisements to users across several devices, notably with your message being consistent and your ad campaign interconnected. Its advantage is not only the immense reach due to the worldwide abundance of gadgets but also the ability to consistently reach the same customers over and over again in different ways, personalizing their experience and reinforcing the image of your brand in their minds.

The name of this practice is cross-device targeting, and in today’s blog post, we will discuss what it is, how it works on a deeper level, what the benefits are, and how you can advance your marketing to the next level with it.

What is Cross-Device Targeting?

Explained simply, cross-device targeting is a strategy used to continuously reach your audience on multiple devices at the same time. Traditional campaigns can usually only utilize one platform or medium, for example, by serving ads on streaming services.

In contrast, a cross-device strategy would not only target CTVs but also mobile web and PCs. Customers often use their devices for specific activities, and this practice takes advantage of this. The main goal of cross-device targeting is to create a unified experience for each customer using their multiple devices.

We can imagine a hypothetical customer journey. They first see an ad for a product on CTV; it may stick in their mind, but it is not purchased right away as shopping on Connected TVs might be slightly inconvenient. The customer later switches to a mobile phone to kill time, browse the web, and sees the ad message again, in a slightly different format.

With their interest piqued from the previous CTV ad, they may click on it to learn more. Then, the customer continues the journey by switching to a PC, finding the product, and finalizing the purchase. It is a prime example of a cross-targeting strategy done right: we have introduced the brand, reinforced its image, and made the conversion.

With dozens of devices, there are numerous paths like this that can lead to conversions, and this practice does not only create them but can track the journey as well to highlight the most successful one. Because of this, cross-device targeting is seen as a highly effective solution, bringing customer conversions up by 40%.

However, to employ this practice, we need ID tracking. Without it, there is no guarantee that the same customer will receive a targeted flow of ads. There are two main tracking methods: deterministic and probabilistic. Let’s examine their characteristics.

Deterministic Tracking

Seen as more accurate, this method for cross-device targeting relies on knowing customers’ personal identifiers to guarantee cross-device tracking. This identifier can be anything, from emails and logins to phone numbers, names, and even dates of birth. Advertisers can assume that their ads will be served to the same person every time since these data points are rarely shared by different people.

On the surface, deterministic tracking has no downsides: it is accurate, does not need to guess any information, and matching data points seems quite easy. However, it has a very high barrier to entry in terms of obtaining customer data in the first place. Media giants like Google, Meta, and Amazon all have their own enclosed customer ecosystems to track down personal information easily. For example, if one of their users logs in with the same credentials from their smartphone, their PC, or CTV, they can match these entry points automatically. These companies have websites, mobile apps, and CTV apps that all work together to ensure successful cross-device targeting.

Smaller companies may not be so successful. Not only do they need to create an ecosystem with websites and apps, but they also need customers who want to use them. Deterministic data can still be obtained without it; for example, customers may be motivated to share their emails to gain additional perks from your product. But in the end, deterministic tracking requires scale for advertisers to take full advantage of this method.

Probabilistic Tracking

So, gathering personal data like emails and logins is difficult. Here is where probabilistic tracking comes in; relying on more easily obtainable data points serves the same purpose: identifying unique customers. Instead of personally identifiable information, probabilistic tracking gathers information like IP addresses, device IDs, operating system details, and cookie data. A large portion of this does not require active user consent and can be collected automatically when the customer enters the website. At first glance, it may seem like a good alternative, but this method has its own drawbacks.

The main keyword of probabilistic tracking is ‘assumption.’ If several devices share the same IP, advertisers can assume that they belong to the same person. The same reasoning goes for cookie data or device IDs. While statistically truthful, this information may still be incorrect: a PC can be shared between family members, and an IP address may as well be used by a friend of your target customer.

But what it lacks in accuracy, probabilistic tracking makes up for in quantity. With how easy it is to gather data points, this method allows you to target a large number of customers across devices, quickly filling up databases.

This information can later be used in combination with deterministic tracking and machine learning; even a small amount of certifiable deterministic data points can be used to train probabilistic algorithms in order to make more accurate predictions. Put more simply; advertisers can improve the accuracy of probabilistic tracking by using deterministic data.

The biggest current concern here is data privacy. With the imminent disappearance of third-party cookies and stricter GDPR regulations, it may be harder to accumulate probabilistic data. However, brand image, customer loyalty, and transparency are the keys to solving that problem; ensure the customer’s consent when gathering data, and these pitfalls will not slow you down.

Benefits of Cross-Device Targeting

It may seem difficult to obtain data for successful tracking and cross-device targeting. However, persistent advertisers that manage to accomplish that goal reap a wide array of benefits that greatly outweigh any complications they may encounter along the way. Cross-device targeting strategies implemented successfully can reduce CPA by up to 50% while increasing ROI by up to 100%, which are very lucrative numbers for any marketer.

Driving Engagement Numbers

The more pathways you open to your product, the higher customer engagement will be. With cross-device tracking, you create a journey for the user that will linger in their mind for much longer. It reflects in statistics, too: more than 75% of millennials are buying products through cross-device engagement, and the conversion rates of those who see advertisements on multiple devices are three and a half times higher.

Employed together with an omnichannel strategy, cross-device targeting removes the barrier between the advertiser and the customer. The latter can be reached at any time on any device, and it is only natural that an advertisement journey like this will be far more impactful than a one-off ad on a single channel.

Insight and Research

The most powerful tool for any marketer is data. Cross-device targeting gives you valuable information about your customers, which can be used to improve your understanding of your audience and ad campaign performance.

With it, advertisers can learn more about the channels and mediums their users prefer and focus their efforts on expanding the reach of those platforms. Where is the final conversion point? Should they optimize spend on a specific channel? Which customer journeys are the most successful, and which are underperforming? Which touchpoints are worth investigating more? All of these questions can be answered by analyzing the results of your cross-device marketing campaign, and modern advertising platforms will provide the tools for that analysis.

Personalizing Customers’ Experience

By researching the audience, advertisers can also move on to the next step, fine-tuning the ad experience for each customer.

Cross-device targeting is more than just putting the same ad on every device; with the help of modern marketing tools, marketers can create unique messaging for each medium, discovering the most engaging ways to attract customers. From colorful CTV ads and non-intrusive mobile ads to intricate in-app advertisements and PC checkout forms, advertisers can ensure not only a smooth ad experience but a whole personalized adventure. A wide majority of customers appreciate tailored experiences, and cross-device targeting is the best practice to make use of it.

Optimizing The Budget

By learning more about their customers, marketers can learn more about their shopping habits and preferred mediums, including the ones that underperform.

We can imagine an advertiser that focuses only on PC platforms. Even if their audience of interest views these advertisements, they may not convert at the expected rate. The problem here may not lie in the lack of interest in the product but in the fact that the audience rarely purchases products when using computers. With cross-device targeting, this advertiser could monitor conversion points, put more focus on other platforms, and even eliminate PC ads from their campaign altogether if ROI is not improving. Without this practice, they would still be in the dark with a slowly draining marketing budget.

With cross-device targeting, fine-tuning ad spend is much easier, as it provides multiple opportunities to get an image of the average customer and make changes on the go.

Know Your Customer, Know Your Potential

Internet-connected devices are everywhere: in our pockets, rooms, offices, and streets. The advertising world is a vast, interconnected, and complex web of screens and platforms. Focusing on something specific may be feasible, but it pales compared to the power of cross-device marketing.

Finding a more all-encompassing practice is hard: it drives engagement, reduces ad spend, can be personalized, and, most importantly, provides data. A successful cross-device strategy is a self-sustaining, ever-improving machine that can only learn more about audiences over time, and this quality is a true cornerstone of the medium.

Gathering the initial data is demanding, which may deter some marketers. But once you are past that point, cross-device targeting may become the foundation of all future ad campaigns. After all, the power is in the numbers, and numbers are something that cross-device excels at.

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