“Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Gareth Davies, CEO at Adbrain.
The market is flush with new devices and categories, resulting in our lives – and our bodies – becoming increasingly tethered to the Internet. Whether it’s the new phone, the wearable or the connected car, mobility and connectivity are redefining how people interact with the world around them.
The common currency here is the digitalization of just about everything around us, creating unparalleled data exhaust fumes begging to be mined for commercial and consumer benefit. It’s no surprise that we’re seeing tech, media and automotive giants make serious investments to further increase their access to people across multiple touch points.
As a result, we’re seeing cross-device driving the bottom line in several ways.
With the average US consumer owning 5.2 connected devices, more devices means more fragmentation (PDF). But this also presents marketers with increasingly powerful opportunities to connect with people in new and relevant ways. We will continue to see the emergence of new, device-specific unique IDs, such as Google’s Advertising ID and Apple’s IDFA, which are baked into wearables, cars and the home.
In a mobile-first world these non-personal, opt-outable device anchors make it possible to reliably identify people and devices far better than yesterday’s cookie-based tracking, since the cookie is a relatively poor proxy for a unique user. Tech giants like Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon are well poised to package this rich behavioural data alongside proprietary device IDs to power their consumer services. But this cross-device behavioral data could remain under lock and key.
A Battle For Identity
The current hype around cross-device is a sign that the market is finally shaping up to tackle this people-based marketing challenge, championed of late by Facebook and Atlas, among others. Semantics aside, this isn’t just a race to reach people – it’s a battle for identity.
Against this backdrop, future proofing one’s business means building a truly holistic, deduplicated user and audience view at scale, enriching this view with proprietary data, such as CRM, offline and online, while respecting user privacy and ensuring your data remains yours and yours alone. Somewhere along the line, marketers and publishers also need to make money.
The Bottom Line
How can cross-device drive the bottom line? First, the undeniable killer application of cross-device, multiscreen attribution offers powerful insights as to how users interact with different devices and media along the path to purchase. The marketing implications of the new consumer journey extend well beyond paid advertising to offer a transformative and deeply nuanced, data-driven view of the marketing funnel and the impact of device, media and environment on user behavior and corporate bottom lines. It is simple in theory and tougher in practice, but attribution is rapidly becoming an achievable and transformative reality thanks to advances in cross-device technology and data management.
Another powerful use case is cross-device targeting, which includes positive or negative device targeting, retargeting and sequential messaging. Whether desktop-to-mobile, mobile-to-desktop or mobile-to-mobile, we’ve seen cross-device performance uplift of anywhere from 10% to 24%, but the upside can be much higher. Both cross-device retargeting and sequential messaging, for example, are particularly valuable for driving and attributing ecommerce transactions that start on a mobile device, often via a third-party app, but typically convert on the retailer’s mobile web or desktop site.
Cross-device is not just for the buy side. Publishers also have a lot to gain, especially the ability to instantly increase yield via direct sales, programmatic guaranteed or increasing the value of mobile impressions on private and open exchanges. A cross-device impression or audience segment is often more valuable to buyers than a desktop or mobile impression alone.
Finally, there is “off-deck” reach, which gives publishers and data owners the opportunity to extend their rich first-party data and audience reach, typically cookie-bound, across web and in-app inventory and beyond their walls. Overall I anticipate significant publisher yield uplift when valuable audience segments can be reached across devices outside of the media owner’s owned and operated properties. With the desktop to mobile CPM discrepancy, there is gold to be mined for those brave enough to cross the frontier.
A New Intelligence Layer
These are just a few examples of how cross-device can drive incremental value. In the near future, I anticipate significant investment and repurposing in the world of search, social, email, CRM and data management, including offline data onboarding.
As an industry we’re often guilty of thinking in terms of media, audience and cross-device data being coupled together but I’d argue we’re rapidly shifting to a world where stand-alone cross-device technology and data as an intelligence layer, with no media impression in sight, can power unique marketing and enterprise applications, offering deeper user insights and more memorable and rewarding consumer experiences for our increasingly digitized selves. The sooner this happens, the better off we’ll be.