Cross-Device Learning Center

Cross-Device Audience Extension

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LC-Cross-Device-Audience-ExtensionAdvertisers have always been interested in addressing “audience segments,” which are groups of consumers that share one or more attributes making them a relevant and appealing audience for an advertiser. The most basic form consists of demographics-based segments, such as “men between the ages of 30 and 40” or “residents of ZIP codes 11023 through 11025.”

In the AdTech world, complex audience segmentation has become commonplace. The most basic form is used for same-advertiser retargeting: a segment is maintained consisting of all browser cookies or mobile device IDs that visited the advertiser’s site, so that ads drawing the consumer back to the site can be shown to the consumer across other Web properties.

More advanced audience segments made available to any advertiser via DSPs are routinely curated by digital publishers and others, based on interests indicated by online activities. Some examples of these are:

  • consumers who visited webpages containing automobile reviews
  • consumers who searched for women’s fashion
  • consumers who participated in online discussions about hypertension
  • consumers who clicked social share links about pets
  • consumers who signed up for newsletters about cheap vacation deals

The use of audience segments is a win-win for advertisers and segment creators (such as digital publishers and third-party data aggregators): it delivers more effective advertising campaigns for advertisers, while increasing the value of the audiences that are sold to advertisers and DSPs. It also benefits consumers, as the ads shown to them while browsing the Web or using apps will be more relevant to their interests, and thus less intrusive.

Device-Siloed Audience Segments

Until recently, activity-based audience segments were limited to lists of the browser cookies and/or mobile device IDs of the browsers/devices that actually exhibited the activities of interest. So, for example, if a consumer visited the automotive area of an online magazine website on his phone in the morning, car advertisers would only be able to reach him on that same phone, even if he spent the next 10 hours accessing the Internet only via his work PC.

However, this single-device approach has become insufficient, given that the average American is already regularly going online using an average of four different devices (Nielsen), and that 90% of consumers use multiple devices to accomplish online activities, such as researching and shopping online (Google).

It is obvious that relying on audience segments that are siloed around one particular device for each consumer severely limits advertisers’ ability to reach their relevant audiences as they move across screens throughout all times of the day and all days of the week. Likewise, if publishers and third-party data aggregators are unable to include all of a consumer’s devices in the audience segments they sell, it is clear that they are leaving money on the table.

Extending Audience Segments Across Devices

Extending audiences to include the additional devices used by individuals makes the segments larger and more valuable. Publishers generate more income by selling larger audience segments, while consumer brands are able to extend the reach, frequency and timeliness of their targeted advertising. In other words, cross-device audience extension enables the delivery of relevant advertising (and other forms of content) across all of a consumer’s devices, maximizing exposure, engagement, conversions and media buying ROI.

The Key to Cross-device Audience Extension: The Device Map

The solution lies in the ability to associate all of an individual consumer’s devices (such as PC, laptop, tablet and smartphone) with the device that the publisher, data aggregator, DSP or advertiser already knows about. By including additional device/cookie IDs used by one consumer alongside the known ID for each consumer, the total number of IDs in the particular audience segment can typically be doubled or tripled! This is easily accomplished by incorporating a device map into the systems that manage the audience segments.

A device map is a data set that contains browser cookie IDs, device IDs and the links that connect multiple IDs to individual users anonymously (i.e., without knowing who the user is). Integrating this simple data with known IDs allows publishers, DSPs, advertisers and other interested parties to easily achieve cross-device audience extension—and realize all the benefits discussed above—very easily and in a very short amount of time.

The device maps that cover the largest numbers of consumers and devices in any given market are generated by analyzing vast amounts of non-personally-identifiable information produced by consumer devices. This approach relies on the collection of huge amounts of anonymous device activity data (such as IP addresses, WiFi network identifiers, GPS location data, device characteristics and browsing data) and sophisticated Big Data algorithms that can determine which devices are likely used by the same person. (Read more about this topic in the article, What is a Probabilistic Device Map?)

Additional Benefits of Cross-Device Audience Extension

In addition to simply identifying that additional devices belong to a particular consumer, linking the devices used by individual consumers provides an additional value dimension: richer data about that individual.

The fact is that mobile devices, especially mobile apps, provide only a fraction of the data on the user that browsers typically provide. For example, when a user visits websites using a PC browser, extensive anonymous information can be received via cookies and tracking pixels (also known as Web beacons or page tags). This information can include important signals about the user’s attributes and interests. On the other hand, mobile devices often provide geographical location data (based on nearby WiFi networks and/or GPS coordinates), which is information generally not available for PCs.

By enriching anonymous user records with attributes, known interests and geographical locations, a more complete picture of the users is available for purposes such as targeting and personalization.

Just one example for illustration: by linking geo data from a user’s linked smartphone to a browser cookie, relevant local ads can appear for the user in their PC Web browser despite the fact that the PC browser has never provided data indicating the precise location of that user.

Additional benefits for advertisers implementing a cross-device audience extension solution include cross-device retargeting abilities, cross-device frequency capping, cross-device conversion attribution and cross-device sequential messaging.

It is clear that integrating a device map with a variety of systems enables numerous high-value applications that will become the norm over the next couple of years. Learn more about the industry’s leading source of cross-device identification data at Device Map by Crosswise.


Last updated: 7 February 2016