The Growing Need for Device Bridging

December 1st, 2014 by Steve Latham Leave a reply »

tapad joined

As an industry, we are quickly moving to a “mobile first” world where mobile engagement is becoming an increasingly important part of the customer journey in most considered purchases. From a targeting standpoint, digital publishers have done a decent job of assembling the components to engage individuals across desktops, laptops, mobile phones and tablets. But on the measurement side of the spectrum, marketers are way behind the curve.

Defining the Problem
Traditional platforms and measurement tools use cookies or alternative IDs to track the behavior of each browser as an individual user. As consumers are increasingly using multiple devices as part of their everyday lives, single-screen tracking provides a very limited view of user-level engagement. Even within your mobile device, it’s difficult to connect your mobile browser and applications, meaning most publishers and advertisers won’t know you’re the same person who saw an in-app ad before navigating to their site through a search on your mobile browser. When you factor in the use of tablets, desktops and laptops, the challenge becomes even more complex. Let’s use the following example to illustrate the challenge:

Suppose you see an ad for TravelX (fictitious travel site) on your iPhone’s mobile browser and you remember you need to book a plane ticket home for the holidays. So you go to the App store and download the TravelX app and book a flight home. Unfortunately, TravelX will not know that the mobile ad you saw on Safari drove the purchase you just made on their mobile App. To them, you appear to be two different users.

In your confirmation email is an ad for a great rate on a rental car. You see it on your phone and make a mental note to do some research tomorrow. While at work the following day you visit the Brand X travel site on your laptop to check out rates. You’re not ready to buy but you’ve definitely shown interest and are deep in the funnel. But unless you sign-in using the same ID as your mobile app, Brand X will not know you are the same person who just booked a flight through their app. Again, they will classify you as a unique user.

To sum up, you responded to TravelX’s ad, downloaded their app, booked a flight, and are now considering a rental car.  While Google, Facebook and others may help them retarget you on your laptop and mobile device, TravelX won’t know how to accurately attribute credit for the conversions.  Given the gaps in “traditional” digital measurement, TravelX doesn’t know its integrated media plan is working so well.  They are still wondering what caused you to download their app in the first place while questioning the value of the seemingly ineffective mobile browser ad that got your attention, but not your click.

tapad uniques

This example illustrates the challenges marketers face in creating a unified view of each customer (even on the sites you frequent).  If you’re like the majority of advertisers who do not require users to authenticate, the challenge of measuring the source of new conversions is even harder.

Beyond the bridging problem, we also see a lot of advertisers who rely on their publishers to serve mobile ads and report the results of the campaign.  As with site-served desktop ads, this leaves a lot of unanswered questions about the true reach, frequency and timing of ads being served and/or rendered.

Solving the Device Bridging Problem

In recent years some innovative companies have emerged to address the gaps in device bridging and data unification.  A few of them are even independent of your media buy, which is very important (let’s keep the foxes out of the hen house). While no one solution offers the silver bullet to address this problem, point solutions are available to:

  • Serve ads to mobile browsers, using a device ID vs. cookies to track user engagement
  • Bridge mobile browsers to in-app engagement
  • Bridge mobile devices to other devices, desktops and laptops used by the same individual
  • Connect device IDs to a universal user ID that can be used for online and offline CRM efforts

tapad connectedBy bridging device-specific data at the user level, advertisers can connect all impressions, visits and conversions associated with each customer journey, regardless of platform or device.  For those brands going head-first into mobile, this will be required to truly understand reach, frequency and cross-platform synergies for each campaign.

Armed with these insights, marketers can plan more effectively, reduce waste and optimize spend while better understanding how and when consumers engage with their brand.  Without these insights, there will be some lingering questions about the relative contribution, impact and ROI from each digital media buy.

(Images courtesy of Tapad)

As always, comments are welcome!

Steve Latham
@stevelatham


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