Corporate Blog

3 Reasons Why Cross-Device Matters for Marketing

This blog post originally appeared on Turn was acquired by Amobee in April 2017.

The average number of times people tap, swipe and click their smartphones per day is 2,617.

Consider that the smartphone is one many devices and screens that consumers are interacting with on a daily basis. While the exact number of devices ranges from four to seven depending on which research you’re looking at, it’s clear that consumers’ attention is divided across touch points.

It’s no wonder then that 70% of marketers last year cited cross-device targeting as the topic that consumed most of of their attention. It remains a tall order for many, but as methods of targeting improve, so does our knowledge of how consumers use their devices. By assessing data from cross-device campaigns, we also have a much better idea of what works in this format.

Three Words: Audience, Goals and Sequencing

In order to effectively target consumers on their devices, we need to know what they’re doing on those devices. For instance, a consumer might pay bills on her laptop, read news on her smartphone during her commute and use a tablet at night to browse shopping sites. In each use case, certain ads will resonate better than others even though it’s the same consumer.

Another factor in the “audience” equation is first-party data. Such data, culled from email lists, visits to a brand’s website and store visits, can be used to target these same customers on their various devices. Those marketers can move on from cookie-based data to mobile device data.

Taking a cross-device approach will also help with attribution. If you only know what a consumer is doing on their desktop, you’ll get an incomplete picture. That ad that you thought was so effective, for instance, might have been bolstered by other ads on mobile. Knowing how the ads all work together to guide a consumer through the purchase funnel helps set realistic goals for the campaign.

That understanding sets the stage for sequencing. The idea is that the cross-device ad experience should be self-reinforcing. If a consumer sees the same ad several times across her devices, then she might get annoyed. If the ads are sequenced and move from creating awareness to eventually making a purchase, then the consumer may even find them helpful. That’s why the messaging needs to build and not be repetitive (marketers should also make use of frequency caps.)

Learning from Past Campaigns

Turn recently worked with a global beverage company found that with a cross-device campaign, consumers engaged and converted at a rate that was three times higher than a single device campaign. A financial services brand Turn worked with, meanwhile, found that consumers tended to convert on desktop after seeing an initial ad on a tablet. By allocating more of its budget to mobile, the brand was able to increase its conversion rate by 83%.

The more campaigns we run, the more we see that some devices are used primarily for consuming media while others are used for exploration and inputting information.

Such data makes it clear that cross-device messaging is much stronger than campaigns focused on one screen. This makes sense since the world is a complex place. Just because we see a banner ad on desktop and don’t click through to buy something doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. The ad might have prompted us to buy something offline (where more than 90% of purchases occur.) Conversely, it may not have been that banner, but the cumulative effect of the banner plus a video ad on a smartphone and then another ad on a tablet. The old answer is, “We just don’t know.” The new answer is, “We’re learning and optimizing as we go,” and it’s making marketing much more powerful.

For more, see our video on what marketers should consider when evaluating cross-device as a tactic.