“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 Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, founder and CEO at Drawbridge
For the past five or six years, we’ve been told that it will be the “Year of Mobile.”
Not this year. With companies like Google likely making big moves, 2015 will be the “Year of Cross-Device.”
Mobile growth will still be dominant, but the brands that adopt mobile as a real channel to reach consumers in 2015 will do so because cross-device solutions make mobile attributable. Increasingly, it’s because of cross-device that big brands are beginning to think beyond mobile and across all connected devices, including smartphones, tablets and personal computers, connected TVs and even smartwatches and other wearables.
Since cross-device will be a major topic in 2015, let’s define a few pieces of cross-device jargon. “Attribution” in this case means tying a digital ad impression to an action, such as a purchase or store visit. “Identity” may seem self-explanatory, but this can and should refer to an anonymous identity, too, not just one tied to a consumer’s personal information. “Reach” and “scale” mean the size of an audience.
- Google will make a big cross-device move
Google has been relatively dormant in terms of a cross-device solution. Its position has largely solved issues around attribution, but not reach. Currently, Google can show marketers what consumers are doing across devices and it offers the ability to leverage cross-device behavior, but the company does not offer a specific tool for marketers to reach the same users across their connected devices with integrated marketing campaigns. That will have to change in 2015.
Facebook put Google on notice in 2014 with the relaunch of Atlas and the releases of Cross-Device Reports and Audience Extension. Google can no longer afford to stay out of the cross-device game and will need to bring a cross-device solution to market in 2015.
Similarly, Twitter will respond to these challengers. By leveraging its 2013 acquisition of mobile RTB exchange MoPub, cross-device reach and attribution will become standard offerings for Twitter’s advertising customers. With these big players all moving aggressively to provide cross-device solutions, brands will certainly start adopting a cross-device mindset.
- Mobile games will eat the ad world
I’m not talking about console games here. Mobile game developers have become major spenders on TV in a trend that will continue. Last year, Supercell took over the airwaves with commercials for its “Clash of Clans” game, and this year Machine Zone has gone a step further by running a truly integrated marketing blitz across TV, digital and social media for "Game of War."
Two years ago, who would have thought that mobile games would have the same brand recognition and living room presence as traditional consumer brands? These aren’t one-hit-wonders. Mobile games are redefining how to seamlessly market to consumers. Expect mobile game companies to be the fastest-growing media buyer across all screens in 2015.
- Cross-device advertising and marketing automation to join forces
We’ve seen some collaboration and integrations between advertising and marketing companies, especially ad tech with marketing automation providers. As cross-device technology becomes more prevalent in 2015, we will see an even tighter marriage of these tech sectors.
Both ad tech and marketing automation rely on large amounts of data to make smarter decisions, and cross-device consumer identity is the pinnacle of those efforts. We’ve seen some signs already, such as Oracle’s rumored $400 million purchase of BlueKai this year, which is just the beginning of ad tech being folded into marketing cloud platforms through M&A activity. We will see companies like Adobe, Salesforce and Oracle bring even deeper cross-device strategies to their larger marketing cloud solutions to help clients reach the right consumers at the right times on the right devices with the right messages.
- TV will become ‘digitally’ measurable
Cross-device identity has already come to smart TVs and streaming devices, and pretty soon we will see linear, or traditional, television follow suit. By linking a smart TV or streaming device to a consumer, marketers have been able to complete the picture of that consumer based on observed or inferred behaviors on mobile and other devices. In 2015, we will see a similar capability come to fruition for traditional linear TVs, enabling them to truly close the attribution gap between TV viewership and online and offline conversion events.
Speaking of connected TV’s – the early-adopter phase is over. 2015 will see smart TVs and streaming devices go from an emerging market to widespread adoption. For the first time, more than half of US Internet users will own a smart TV or streaming device, and marketers can’t afford to ignore this trend. We will see these devices increasingly leverage sophisticated targeting abilities and attribution solutions.
- Wearable marketing will stay in hype mode until the Apple Watch surpasses 10 million consumers
Wearables are the next desirable screen on which marketers can continue their conversations with consumers. With the Apple Watch hitting the market in the spring, everyone is waiting to see what marketers will do with this new category of devices. Will we see ads on our wrists? Or notifications from beacons about local deals? While there will be some innovations around smartwatches and other wearables, it is ultimately just one more screen that marketers and consumers need to contend with. I don’t think we’ll see a cohesive solution in 2015, and much of this is predicated on scale. It will take 10 million units before smartwatches will move the needle beyond PR buzz.
Do you agree with my predictions? Is there anything I missed? Let me know in the comments.