Rocket Fuel is speeding up the rollout of its device graph. Starting in Q1, the programmatic platform company will make cross-device targeting the default mode for marketer and agency clients of its self-serve DSP.
Those customers include Microsoft, which does its own US digital ad buying in-house. Microsoft's top B2B marketing exec in the US, Grad Conn, says Rocket Fuel's cross-device data gives him a better view into how campaigns perform across devices.
"It's been really interesting to see the move to mobile, to see how many of our campaigns are primarily viewed on mobile devices," according to Conn, who oversees all integrated marketing for Windows, Office, the Azure cloud software and the Dynamics CRM platform.
Those campaigns used to be led by Starcom MediaVest on the digital side, but now Microsoft handles buying internally.
"My team was innovating more rapidly than the media agencies we were working with," Conn said. "We got into the uncomfortable position where we were telling the media agency what to do and what to buy."
Regarding how to market across the multiplicity of devices in the world, Conn says, "I don't look at it as cross-device. That's the technical implementation of it. Where we're going is human-centered. The number of devices will be so large that it'll be almost unmeasurable."
That day is still far off – luckily for Rocket Fuel and its competitors. It's tough enough tracking user touch points across four or five devices.
Unlike some ad buying platforms, Rocket Fuel relies solely on its own device linkage data to drive performance in the multi-screen melee. It does not support other cross-device datasets – such as those offered by Tapad, Drawbridge and Crosswise. By contrast, DSP competitor Turn supports cross-device audience buying courtesy of Crosswise, Tapad, Adbrain, LiveRamp and VisualDNA – buyers can plug in whichever vendor data set they prefer - but it doesn't package its own cross-device data set.
Rocket Fuel senior product marketing manager Ian Dailey said the company is exploring relationships with some of those third parties. And he said there are other ways Rocket Fuel can benefit from outside device linkage data.
"We can also support ingestion of audience data from many different ad-tech platforms in both the DSP and DMP, so we could ingest cross-device audiences where the matching has already been performed, or we can do that in-house," he said.
According to the Rocket Fuel's self-reported data, campaigns using a cross-device measurement standard show 30% better direct response performance and 50% better reach against the target audience than those that track devices separately.
Like most large B2B marketers, Microsoft takes a data-driven approach to prospecting and upselling, using a managed account list to identify key technical and business decision makers. It is a heavy user of LinkedIn Sales Navigator to identify and reach out to some of those prospects.
"The challenge for us is less about getting to the individual company entity and more about creating relationships amongst the people inside the company," Conn said.
On the media buying side, Conn said Microsoft has been satisfied with Rocket Fuel's ability to drive performance and ROI.
"We've brought the cost for end action down by 90% for one campaign. It just keeps optimizing and optimizing," he said.