Nearly one in every ten U.S. Internet users, which is more than 31 million people, will access the Internet exclusively through a mobile device in 2016. Moreover, according to eMarketer, by 2020, this mobile-only audience will grow to more than 42 million people or nearly 15% of U.S. Internet users. This forecast is quite impressive considering the fact that person may own several mobile devices.
Most mobile users use different devices at various stages in their lifecycle. For example, many users research products on their smartphones, but purchase the products using larger-screen devices like their tablets. On the other hand, impulse buying often happens on mobile, due to the always-available nature of mobile devices. Therefore, for shopping or eCommerce mobile apps, in-app ads are important due to the amount of time users spend in apps.
Given this reality, mobile app marketers need to find a way to reach their target audiences regardless of which device they are using at any point of time. The focus should be on people not devices. Luckily, cross-device marketing allows this. Cross-device marketing gives app marketers the ability to serve targeted ad to users across multiple mobile devices.
The Importance of Cross-Device Marketing
Imagine yourself actively researching which jacket to buy for your brother’s birthday. You conduct researches on your smartphone while commuting to and from work. These signals may be used by shopping or eCommerce apps to target your smartphone with relevant ads that display special deals or discounts. However, when you are using your tablet at home in the evening – where the purchase will likely be made – these ads may not be reaching you at the critical point in time because the app’s audience segment only contains your smartphone ID. However, if the app marketer had a way of identifying the linkage between all of your devices (phone, tablet, etc.), then the audience segments could be expanded to include all the relevant devices and you will easily get ad with relevant deals and avoiding seeing the same ad twice.
Challenges in Cross-Device Marketing
Perhaps the most significant challenge in cross-device marketing lies in accurately identifying users across different devices. This is accomplished by identifying the multiple devices used by an individual user, either by deterministic or a probabilistic approach. Some use a deterministic approach this problem by asking users to login each time they access a mobile app. Others use the probabilistic approach by collecting vast amounts of user data and employ highly complex algorithms to predict the user ID.
This cross-device user identification data is available for straightforward implementation within many programmatic advertising platforms, quickly allowing app marketers to realize all the benefits of cross-device advertising in today’s multi-screen era. While there are certainly challenges, the advantages in audience reach and engagement outweigh them in the highly competitive mobile environment.