Customers use multiple devices throughout the day and switch interchangeably between them. Customers might want to use a smartphone whilst on public transport in the morning, a laptop or desktop during working hours, and a tablet on the sofa in the evening.

Because more than 60% of the UK population uses more than one device to make a purchase, it is now becoming essential for marketers to deliver personalised experiences to customers across devices. In this article, we’ll talk through the key applications for cross-device technology and show you how you can get started with cross-device campaigns.

Cross-device retargeting

A recent study by retail analyst GlobalWebIndex highlighted the importance of building relationships with customers across devices via retargeting. The study found that customers own 3.64 devices on average, and that buyers are 1.16x more likely to shop with retailers who provide a seamless customer experience across devices.

To illustrate this, let’s look at the hypothetical example of Helen, who is shopping for a new coat. Helen first reads about the coat in a sponsored article on her tablet, but doesn’t buy anything. She checks the retailer’s website again on her desktop device during her lunch hour. Later that day, Helen is show an enticing advert with a discount coupon as she is browsing a fashion blog on her smartphone. Helen is intrigued by the advert, and clicks through to make the purchase.

This is quite a simple example, but it demonstrates how easy it is for retailers to lose customers across devices. The coat could easily have been forgotten about as Helen was going about her day: it’s only by re-engaging her that the retailer gets to record the purchase.

Cross-device measurement and attribution

Similarly, it’s important that all of the devices used during a customer’s journey receive the appropriate credit. If a customer begins a purchase process on one device, but completes the purchase process on another, marketers need to be able to give each device the appropriate credit for the transaction. If the transaction would not have happened without initial research taking place on mobile, the mobile channel deserves some credit (and spend on the mobile channel to support it). Cross-device measurement helps marketers achieve this.

By providing a single view of the customer across devices throughout the customer journey, cross-device measurement and attribution provides marketers with a more accurate view of the customer journey. For instance, if you find that particular devices are successful in different parts of the buying cycle, you can use this to target your buying strategy and offers to different stages of the funnel.

How to test cross-device campaigns

One of the most effective ways to assess the value of adding cross-device to your marketing campaigns is to conduct a performance uplift test.

In a performance uplift test, you run a single-device version and a multi-device version of your campaign, and compare the results. The test will show you the incremental impact of adding cross device on KPIs such as conversion rate, add-to-cart rate and time spent on site.

We’ve helped many organisations run cross-device performance uplift tests, and have developed the following set of best practices:

1. Keep your audience targeting as broad as possible. Keep in mind that you should:

a. Have a high bid CPM (in the same way you would single-channel retargeting)

b. Keep any whitelist as open as possible

c. Avoid any specific channel or vertical targeting

d. Use the most prevalent ad sizes for the environment in which you’re serving (e.g. 320x250 on desktop-web; 320x50 on mobile-web)

e. Keep the frequency cap as open as possible

2. Test using an audience segment that already has delivered good results on a single-device campaign so you have a control group with a strong baseline.

3. Testing one campaign at a time helps you pinpoint which types of campaigns are most responsive to cross-device.

What's next for cross-device?

Developing and executing a cross-device strategy can be a daunting task. However, with the right focus and deployment of cross-device technology, and working alongside cross-device experts, this process is completely manageable.

Cross-device marketing is already paying dividends for tech-savvy retailers. A recent project by OnDevice Research with Adbrain showed a significant uplift in ‘first mentions’ and store visitation (a 45% lift) amongst those who experienced a large offline retailer’s campaign cross-device rather than on just one display channel. Like the overall marketing landscape, cross-device practice is ever evolving. Staying on top of current trends and best practices is a difficult task. Despite these challenges, learning how to identify, target and segment customers across devices must become a strategic focus for marketers as customer behavior shifts to become increasingly cross device.


By Ed Chater, chief marketing officer at Adbrain


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