Mastering Cross-Device

This week at AUSAM HQ we're really excited to have AUSAM board president, Kara Feldman, author a blog on the trending importance - and usefulness - of Cross-Device identity and advertising. You can catch more from Kara at our upcoming April panel on online to offline measurement.


How many devices do you have on your desk while you read this? If you’re anything like the average consumer, anything like me, the answer is at least two but probably three. At the end of 2016, there were over 3.4 billion internet users on the globe owning over 4 billion smartphones, tablets, computers, connected TVs, and wearables.

Internet adoption and device usage keep us all connected, and there are new devices and applications coming to market every single day. But that’s not why you’re reading this post. You’re reading because it’s getting harder and harder for us, the brands, agencies, and enterprises of the world, to deliver ideal and personalized customer experiences across consumers’ multiple devices.

Our consumers are everywhere. Marketers can glean some pieces of their behavior on smartphones, get another glimpse about their habits and preferences on tablets, and then find additional information on desktop and smart TV. But how can we connect all that information? We call this “identity fragmentation,” and for marketers, it sucks!

But it doesn’t have to. A good cross-device platform can eliminate your consumer blind spots and knock out the guessing games. There are some very robust platforms out there built with mobile-first, cross-device capabilities. If you’re not utilizing them now, in 2017, you’re missing the mark.

What is the difference between cross-device & cross-platform?

Cross-device is different from cross-platform. Think about a sprinkler: a sprinkler sprays water on everything in its path, whether the plant needs it or not. Similarly, a cross-platform strategy is to spray out a single “one-size-fits-all” ad across all the ids on a graph. Maybe the message is hitting your targets’ apps, mobile web browsers, desktops, tablets, and smart TVs. But then, maybe it’s hitting the 90-year-old neighbor checking his email down the street, the 5-year-old girl borrowing her dad’s iPad, and oh I don’t know, me! When cross-platforms spray out their message, they just hope the ad reaches the people they’re intended for, but there’s no way to know.

Contrarily, a truly cross-device plan knows the person behind the device ids on its graph. It connects all those device ids to a single owner, and then serves ads that actually interest them, and might really be useful.

But, why are there so many “cross-device” vendors out there?

Everyone knows that cross-device is the future of advertising. 215.7 million US internet users are already multi-device, and that stat is growing every day. Realizing that, a ton of advertising platforms are scrambling to offer clients a multi-device capability. Unfortunately for them, it’s too little, too late. Platforms that weren’t built to handle mobile advertising are adding simple, quick fixes to catch up in today’s multi-device, mobile-first world.

Cross-device isn’t an add-on for advertisers anymore, it’s a necessity. Consumers expect to be reached on a user level across all of their devices. By implementing modern targeting techniques on a cross-device platform, you can deliver better than ever before. Take just these few tactics, for example:

Identifying influencers. No matter your vertical, there are influencers. Politics – who are the people attending rallies? CPG – where are the mommy bloggers with pull? Auto – you get the idea. Cross-device platforms can use location signals to find the influencers you need and reach them precisely across all the screens they’re engaged on. Better yet, import your own first- or third-party data and reach the influencers you’ve already identified across all of their digital devices.

Cross-device storytelling. With that sacred identity you can cater a message about your product that will catch consumers’ sleepy eye during a morning mobile browse, hit them again while they’re surfing the web on desktop at lunch, and finish strong a few days later on a tablet over wine and The Bachelor – all because you know who your audience is across all of their devices.

Hyper-local targeting. From shopping malls to auto dealerships – you tell me who wouldn’t benefit from hyper local ads? It’s a new year and granularity in the digital world is as available as it is in the physical world with geofencing, regional, DMA, and even ZIP+4 targeting. You can literally reach the consumers who are looking on their devices and are already nearby!  More importantly with an identity graph - you can leverage that location as an asset for reaching audiences visiting relevant or competitive locations to your business across tablet, and connected TV. 

Universal frequency capping. Look, I’m a millennial. I get it. Sometimes advertisers over do it. But not on cross-device. Just because we can reach consumers all the time doesn’t mean we should. Protect your brand sentiment with a universal cap on ads, across all devices, all the time. No one likes an overstayed guest, in real life or virtual.

The world we live in is becoming more cross-device every day. There are so many ways we, as advertisers, can use that to our advantage. With the chance to maximize exposure and reach to the right users, on the right devices, at the right times, with the right messages… why would you not use cross-device?

Still want to learn more? This recent IAB study has a lot of information about the effectiveness of cross-media advertising.