In August 2014, Facebook launched its cross-device targeting tool for digital ads, as reported by AdExchanger, which sent a clear signal that the social media giant is becoming accepted by marketers as a way to measure and reach Internet users across smartphones, tablets and desktop computers. Cross-device targeting occurs when a brand identifies a visitor to its website and subsequently serves an ad to that consumer when they are browsing elsewhere on another device. If a person is perusing Kate Spade handbags from her work desktop on the Nordstrom website, for instance, she may see a Kate Spade banner ad for a sale on her mobile Pandora app.
The goal of cross-device targeting is to more closely follow the new customer journey, requiring multiple touches to influence purchasing decisions. Here are three ways the tool will change your digital advertising strategy:
1. It Will Force Cookies to Evolve Into Something Better
For years, cookies have served as de facto online advertising markers, enabling marketers to identify and recognize shopper behavior. But today, as non-Web-based digital activities on mobile phones, apps and other IP-enabled devices continue to expand, cookies are becoming less useful. In addition, as MediaPost points out, the looming "Do Not Track" movement worldwide may ultimately force marketers to rely on other tools.
Cross-device targeting will require a move from total reliance on cookies to other identification tags across all digital screens, operating systems, devices and browsers. Log-in data linking — which gives consumers the option to log in to your website using their Google, Facebook or email credentials — could be the most viable way to solve cookie problems.
2. It Will Make Social Media Advertising Even More Vital
According to Facebook's latest research, communicating via Facebook and checking email are the two most popular behaviors by mobile users, and consumers do both constantly, throughout the day. In a survey of marketers, Ad Age and RBC Capital Markets revealed that 84 percent of respondents use Facebook ads for marketing, with Twitter and YouTube rounding out the top three. Of these, 36 percent indicated that the ROI on mobile ads for Facebook was "much greater" or "somewhat greater" than its desktop offering.
Now that tools exist to help marketers get even more granular on ROI, expect mobile social media budgets to increase. Adweek is forecasting a 70 percent increase in social ad spending, and not just on Facebook — Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat will also be big players.
3. It Will Reduce the Importance of Last-Click Attribution
Because cross-device recognition methods are still emerging, it can be challenging to pinpoint the attribution rate, but many marketers say that attribution is missing the point of cross-device targeting. Last-click attribution is a measurement approach focused on the last advertising medium to persuade a consumer to click on an ad. According to The Ad Tech Press, 65 percent of transactions today are started on one device and finished on another, with 20 percent of these transactions completed on a mobile device. Last-click attribution therefore doesn't consider the long-term building of awareness and interest or the evaluation process that a consumer goes through before choosing a certain brand.
As this Google infographic illustrates, 90 percent of consumers now use multiple screens sequentially throughout their day, and 67 percent use multiple screens to research, evaluate and then purchase products. Cross-device targeting will help brands gain more intelligence about how these consumers navigate different screens, helping them make more informed decisions about where to spend marketing dollars to best reach customers.