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Cross-Device Targeting Expands the Pool of Prospects

Cross-Device Targeting Offers New Sales Funnel

February 24th, 2016   ||    by Duane Craig

As the screen, and not the network it’s attached to, becomes the focus of today’s advertisers, the urgency to bring cross-device targeting to its full potential is increasing. That’s because cross-device targeting helps advertisers move from compartmentalized to sequential ad delivery—something more important with each new screen consumers pick up.

People have unique ways of using their respective devices, but they typically tend to use the one that’s closest to them, without any consideration for where it fits in the connected world. All the while, expecting a seamless experience across devices.

Traditionally, however, marketers have considered things in segmented ways. But that tendency is fading in the digital world and is set for disruption in the TV ad space too. The data used for tracking devices is increasingly more accurate, becoming laser-focused with multi-touch attribution software and platforms that simplify machine learning.

Advantages of Advanced Cross-Device Targeting

The foundation for advanced cross-device targeting has already been set, opening the door to reaping its advantages, which include:

  • Extending desktop activity tracking to mobile devices and beyond
  • Expanding the data points available for tracking and measuring consumer interests and ad engagement
  • Creating messages in a sequence across multiple screens that respond to the user’s interests at the moment
  • Retargeting across all devices
  • Delivering a consistent experience across devices
  • Gaining a deeper understanding of the audience
  • Boosting user connection

So, what is the science behind cross-device tracking today? The technical process relies on “device graphs” which are used to identify users and their devices, and they are created in a few different ways.

The Determined Route

When a person logs into an app using an email address and then logs onto a website using the same email address, advertisers and publishers can link them across the devices they used, and assign unique identifiers. This unique identifier accurately targets the person across multiple screens. This route to identifying users is referred to as the “deterministic method.” This is typical where a user logs into a social media platform and then uses the same credentials for other sites on different devices. Set top boxes, OTT, and connected TVs bring addressable TV advertising into the mix— which promises enhanced cross-device targeting opportunities involving television.

The deterministic method requires scale though, so it’s reserved for very large companies with huge tech footprints. And, for marketers, the deterministic path usually means they have to rely on data that is commingled with the media interests of the business providing the data, often companies like Facebook or Google.

The Probable Route

Another current way of establishing user identity is called “probabilistic.” In this case, algorithms do the heavy lifting by analyzing anonymous data points to create statistically likely links between devices and specific persons or households. An example is when a marketer notices two IDs that consistently connect through the same IP address when there are seldom any other IDs connecting on that address, making it probable it’s the same user. The probabilistic process doesn’t require the scale that deterministic needs, and it comes unbridled by other business’ media.

When targeting across devices, data reliability is critical. Accuracy between 90 to 95 percent is currently possible when using deterministic data to validate probabilistic data, according to an Adbrain spokesperson during an Ad Week Webinar on cross-device targeting. One way to do that is to make the login data the “source of truth” and then overlay it on the probabilistic data to find matches.

There are hurdles to targeting across devices, like privacy concerns and ad blocking. But those aside, the methods and technologies used to link people and their devices promise to make multiple screens a new sales funnel.

Interested in learning how programmatic TV and cross-device targeting work together? Contact Videa.

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