Cross-Device Marketing: Three Tips for Success

In a world where 60 percent of adults interact with at least two screens per day, it’s essential for marketing campaigns to target people, rather than devices. Whether you’ve decided to send anonymized customer IDs directly to the walled gardens of Facebook and Google or you’ve hosted them securely within your own data management platform (DMP), it’s challenging to get cross-device marketing right. What’s more, the cost of not solving this issue is huge. Forrester estimates that this year America’s millennials will spend over $600 billion across an average of 5.5 connected devices per person. The recent eMarketer webinar, Cross-Device Targeting—What to Watch for in 2017, goes into detail on trends and key challenges facing marketers who must deliver consistent, cross-device experiences.

The much-discussed solution to the cross-device challenge is to build or buy a device graph. A device graph is a set of ID mappings used to define groups of anonymous devices as being used by the same person, based on the commonalities between the signals collected from each device. These signals indicate a level of identity. The most accurate signal is a login event (such as signing into a website or app), however other signals such as IP address and device metadata can also be used. When layered over an audience segment comprised of device IDs, these device graphs can be used to anonymously classify the common identity behind each device in the audience segment (typically a person or a household). This allows a marketer to deliver a consistent cross-device experience to the audience segment, tailored perfectly to the person (or people) using each device. That said, factors such as scale, accuracy, privacy, and control make it very difficult to find the perfect device graph to use and the best platform on which to use it.

Here are my top three tips to delivering successful cross-device experiences with device graphs:

1. Be flexible

Every device graph has its own unique advantages, so put your business in the position to leverage them all. If you build your own device graph based on signals collected from your own websites and apps, you’ll ensure maximum control over how the graph is built and how it is used — but, inevitably, it will be limited by scale. If you decide to use a device graph within a publisher’s walled garden (think Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.), you’ll increase your scale but be limited to using the graph with audiences defined by each of these publishers (for use only on the inventory they sell). In other words, your device graph won’t exist outside of their ecosystem.

The solution here is to build your audience segments in a platform-agnostic environment that offers the ability to construct your own device graph, opt-in to a shared device graph, or lease a third-party device graph. The obvious choice for such an environment is the DMP. The DMP should offer integrations with all major targeting platforms, publishers, and data providers to ensure optimum scale, accuracy, and consistency of the audiences it defines. Adobe’s DMP, Adobe Audience Manager, offers marketers and publishers the ability to create their own device graphs from their first-party data as part of its built-in identity management capabilities. In addition, Audience Manager has integrations with multiple device graph vendors, including Adobe’s own Marketing Cloud Device Co-op and the LiveRamp and Tapad device graphs.

2. Understand the importance of scale

Targeting and retargeting your existing customers using your own device graph built from anonymized first-party data is a common example of people-based marketing. The challenge is that, by definition, this device graph can only include devices you’ve seen and been able to connect to known customers based on their actions across your digital properties. If you want to extend your reach to target your customers, and even your prospects across devices they own but you’ve never seen, you’re going to need to a bigger graph. This is where the Adobe Device Co-op can help. The Device Co-op is a device graph comprised of data collected from multiple businesses that have joined forces to contribute and benefit from a shared device graph. Importantly, the graph extends far beyond the devices any one business has seen on their owned digital properties, allowing them to increase the reach of their campaigns and target users across all their devices, even if they’ve only been identified on one device. The Adobe Device Co-op is currently the largest device graph of its kind in North America, and is being used to help marketers both activate and measure the performance of people-based audience segments without having to sacrifice scale.

3. Be in control

If you’re going to use device graphs to define, target, and measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, be sure to have complete control over how they are being used. Audience Manager’s Profile Merge Rules allow marketers to create sophisticated logic over how a device graph defines the people within a segment for any number of marketing scenarios. For instance, one rule may be configured for use with known customer segments leveraging a first-party device graph, whereas another rule could be used to define anonymous prospects leveraging a third-party device graph. In addition, Profile Merge Rules can be used to define which platforms the segments using a device graph can be exported to in order to comply with your company’s privacy policy. As more advocacy groups and governments create new legislation around consumer privacy, it’s critical to maintain control over which device graphs you use and how they are used across your business.

Customers have come to expect that the experience they have on one connected device will continue when they access a second or third device. By following the three principles outlined here — be flexible, understand the importance of scale, and be in control — marketers can take the necessary steps to meet these expectations by delivering consistent user experiences and enabling new cross-device marketing tactics that will ultimately improve their return on investment.