The ABCs of Cross-Device Targeting

How to optimize your digital campaigns to achieve the highest conversion rates

Today, consumers of media content aren’t glued solely to a TV or a computer screen. Kids, teens, and adults alike split their time between devices such as mobile phones, tablets, desktop PCs, and even gaming consoles, expanding the digital avenues of target marketing beyond just websites.



Targeting users across all of these platforms, called cross-device targeting, allows for precise marketing to determine where individual users spend the majority of their time, thereby optimizing digital campaigns to achieve the highest conversion rates.

Let’s look at how cross-device targeting works in the real world. Imagine customers using Twitter on their phones. While scrolling through their feed, they see an ad for a new crossover, which resonates with them because they’ve been thinking about a new car to increase their trunk space. They don’t click on the ad, but email a note to themselves to take a look at it later because browsing on the phone can be cumbersome.

Later, when they’re home, they open their email on a desktop computer, do a quick search for their desired vehicle, end up at their local dealer’s website, and browse the inventory on the dealer’s lot. They note the vehicles they’re interested and stop in later that week. This used to be a manufacturer’s and dealer’s nightmare to track and measure. Not anymore.

See the entire journey

Cross-device attribution enables a marketer to see the entire journey, from the ad on the phone to browsing inventory on a dealer’s site. When buyers don’t take any action on their phones (where they originally saw the ad) and didn’t see the ad on any other device, most marketing teams only attribute success in this customer journey to a search click. And doing this is a mistake.

Even though the cross-device method results in greater visibility into the conversion path and as a result, higher attributed conversions rates, many marketers still aren’t doing it correctly. And with technology developing rapidly, implementing a cross-device strategy sooner rather than later is necessary to boost and accurately measure conversions.

Basics of cross-device targeting

The two most important aspects of cross-device targeting that marketers need to know are:

  1. Audience targeting: This allows advertisers to extend reach and control frequency on all of a users’ devices in any combination. It goes beyond PCs, tablets, phones—it reaches users on connected TVs, gaming consoles, and across different mobile browsers and apps. Advertisers can even retarget users that might lead to an impression, based on their particular data, or by utilizing third-party behavioral data to target new users based on their previous online activity.
  2. Attribution reporting: Advertisers can obtain deep insights into users’ conversion behavior by specific device with cross-device attribution reporting. This allows publishers to capture secured conversions, even after the initial ad impression takes place. For example, users see an ad on their mobile device but make the actual purchase of the advertised product or service at a later time using their desktop computer. In automotive, of course, manufacturers and dealers need to take it one step further by applying offline to online conversion and mixing it with cross-device. This isn’t hard, but it requires a smart digital partner and advanced planning.

Implementing cross-device targeting

Once the two basic concepts of a cross-device strategy are understood, the following steps are necessary to implement and use cross-device targeting to its fullest potential:

  1. Gather data: Companies that specialize in building cross-device graphs continually gather individual consumer data from users’ IP addresses, cookies, time-of-day visitation, app usage, regular site visits, and device IDs.
  2. Analyze for insight: This gathered data is fed through an algorithm, which creates the cross-device graph. Marketers can then gain a visual understanding of specific device usage as it relates to an individual user.
  3. Implementation: After the analysis, marketers obtain the insight and ability to create customized campaigns with optimal targeting techniques, earning a higher rate of conversion success. They also gain the ability to assign attribution to the specific media platforms, tied to individual users, for all of their outreach efforts—not just the sale or conversion. This means they can sharpen their outreach efforts the next time around. Multiplied among tens of thousands of consumers, cross-device technology has the ability to bring campaigns into a much more refined focus.

What cross-device technology really does is close the gaps in digital campaigns, bringing a better understanding of the entire process, not just conversion rates. This means OEMs, regional associations, and dealers no longer miss specific target audiences or their activities across particular marketing channels.

The cross-device methodology allows these three advertising tiers to cover all of their targeting bases, while attributing both behavioral impressions and conversions. Instead of targeting on one platform here or one platform there, a campaign can now stretch across multiple devices, finding users where they spend most of their time. In addition, they can then track the full cycle of ad impressions, indicating exactly when and where the actual conversions took place.

If knowledge is power, then cross-device technology is going to be powerful in changing how we reach consumers and measure the impact to reduce days supply and increase conversion rates on digital ups.

Jay Friedman is the COO of Goodway Group, a leading managed-services programmatic partner to local, regional, and Fortune 500 brand agencies. He is also the author of 30 Days to Digital Media Expertise and 30 Days to Digital, available through Amazon and Scribd.

Jay Friedman

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