With so many digital devices in use by consumers and massive changes in media consumption patterns, it's no surprise that "cross device" has emerged as one of our industry's leading buzzwords. The average consumer now spreads their digital time across nearly four devices each day with even more consumer journeys started on one device and completed on another. The opportunities for brands to capitalize on consumers' increased digital connectivity have been significantly tempered by this fragmentation as traditional methods used to identify consumers on desktop (mainly cookies) have proven insufficient in the mobile world.
In light of these trends, marketers and brands have rushed to implement various cross-device matching solutions. But in this collective haste, I feel like the end purpose behind cross device has been blurred.
Do we want to simply connect various devices to each other, or is cross device just a piece (however critical) of the larger "consumer-centric" puzzle? I firmly believe it is the latter, and when it comes to executing on your larger marketing strategies, talking about cross device in a vacuum is putting the proverbial (shopping) cart before the horse. Today's dialogue isn't about connecting devices together. It's about understanding a consumer across all of their devices and being able to efficiently deliver truly personalized messaging at the most opportune moments based on that understanding. Here are three consumer-centric principles to consider:
1. Devices Don't Buy Things. People Do.
One of the primary problems with most cross-device solutions today is that they are simply tying devices together rather than linking them back to an actual, verifiable consumer. The devices a person interacts with do not make buying decisions themselves, which begs the question, "what good is connecting devices together if we don't understand the consumer behind them?" A consumer-centric approach to cross device entails accurately identifying a consumer across their devices and tying those devices back to persistent central profiles (as opposed to simply tying devices together). This practice ensures that all brand messaging is informed by a rich, historical and ongoing understanding of the individual. This understanding also ensures that messages are relevant within the context of each individual consumer journey and delivered with a continuity of voice, regardless of the device or channel on which they are delivered.
2. Appreciate the Dimensions to the Consumer Behind the Device
Rudimentary cross-device tactics often contemplate simple retargeting of an individual on a mobile device based on a website visit on the individual's desktop or laptop, or vice versa. But the true potential of cross device is only unlocked when combined with the vast amounts and types of data marketers are now able to leverage. There are literally thousands of dimensions to each individual consumer that can help inform the type of messaging that will most resonate with them. While simple demographics and recent browsing history are still valuable, in today's hyper-connected world, marketers need to incorporate more granular data points to deliver truly personalized messaging. These can include past purchases (online and offline), location data, videos viewed, and device usage, just to name a few. Being able to collect this type of data is one thing. But there is another piece to unlocking its true power.
3. Maintain a Real-Time and Historic Understanding of the Consumer
No matter how much data you collect on a consumer, the success of your marketing initiatives will always be dependent on how long you can actually hold onto that data and how quickly you're updating your consumer profiles. By linking devices and insights back to persistent online profiles (rather than tying devices to one another using perishable cookies and replaceable device IDs), marketers can actually develop a historic view of their target consumers. And as insights continue to be appended in real time, this united view becomes the foundation for not just understanding the needs and interests of an individual consumer, but actually being able to anticipate them. The quantity, quality and recency of your data inputs will determine your level of consumer understanding, and ultimately, the relevance of your messaging. As such, we should always aim to tap the richest and most up-to-date consumer profiles possible when devising our marketing strategy.
There's no doubt that our industry has made great strides in our effort to deliver more relevant and useful messaging to consumers and cross device will rightfully remain a top priority for marketers moving forward. With this in mind, I would strongly advise marketers to remember to always keep our collective attention focused on consumers themselves rather than the devices they use.
About the Author
Kurt Hawks is SVP of Cross Device and Video at Conversant, where he is responsible for the development and execution of Conversant's cross-device and video strategic objectives and oversees all aspects of its cross-device and video business operations. He currently serves as the Co-Chair of the IAB's Mobile Advertising Committee and sits on the DMA's Cross-Device Identification (XDID) Advisory Council.
Prior to Conversant, Kurt was COO at Greystripe, a venture-backed mobile advertising startup, where he was instrumental in the launch, growth and sale of the company to Conversant. He also worked as a venture capitalist and as an engagement manager at Monitor Group.
About the Sponsor
Conversant is a leader in personalized digital marketing. Conversant helps the world's biggest companies grow by creating personalized experiences that deliver higher returns for brands and greater satisfaction for people. We offer a fully integrated personalization platform, personalized media programs and the world's largest affiliate marketing network—all fueled by a deep understanding of what motivates people to engage, connect and buy. For more information, please visit www.conversantmedia.com.