Other tech giants are shedding the desktop tracker, in favor of
enclosing users in their universes. Microsoft and Apple recently
introduced traceable unique identifiers for their smartphones and
Google said in March that its
email mobile app is now automatically integrated with its other
applications on the rival iPhone (as well as on the Android
platform). On April 2, Google bowed Universal Analytics -- a
version of its campaign-tracking tool for multiple devices with a
With large logged-in audiences, these tech players have an
inherent advantage when it comes to tracking users across
Google Analytics is the sharpest tool for tracking ad campaigns
but "it just showed us a partial aspect of the story," said Feras
Alhlou, president of digital analytics firm E-Nor, which was among
the Google partners offered an early peek at the new product.
In a campaign with digital-recorder company TiVo, E-Nor measured a leap of 40% in
views and mobile-app sessions, as the audience bounced between
screens. InfoTrust, another ad manager using the product in beta,
lauded the ability to eye the same customer on desktop and mobile
for the first time.
"If I can shift the approach from visits to visitor," Mr. Alhlou
said, "we get a lot more visibility."
Mr. Mudd calls this a "census-level" measurement. When it
launched its ad service, Facebook implanted its own
software-development kit tracing smartphone behavior. In the past
year, it has signed deals with three data brokers, Acxiom, Datalogix and
Epsilon. Geo-location abilities, Mr. Mudd
said, are coming soon.
With its cross-screen ambitions, Facebook is aiming to move to the
head of the industry; Nielsen plans to integrate mobile metrics
with TV brand equity later this year.
Sean O'Neal, president of Adaptly, a mobile-ad platform that
works with Facebook, said the social network has an edge in the
cross-screen race. At home, he uses Google's web browser; at work,
another; and with his iPhone, a third. But on each device he's
signed into his social-media account.
"The universal ID today in the world is your Facebook log-in,"
he said. "This industry-wide challenge of mobile tracking has sort
of quietly been solved, without a lot of fanfare."