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Buyers and sellers alike see value in reaching audiences across all screens. But while the benefit of a more people-based targeting approach is clear, how to achieve that vision—at least across the broader advertising landscape—is anything but.
“There’s a lot of conversation around whether or not we are going to get to a single identifier that’s going to be the holy grail of connecting a person across all devices and channels,” said Pete LaFond, vice president of marketing at programmatic advertising and audience targeting platform TruSignal. “I don’t think we’re necessarily any closer to having a unique identifier.”
In the absence of such an identifier, providing the data that advertisers want is often at the discretion of whichever platform or property is promising cross-device capabilities. Not only does this make it difficult for buyers to scale campaigns in a broader, publisher-agnostic manner, but it is also causing significant problems for the measurement of these campaigns. Without a universal methodology for cross-screen identification and execution, there can be no alignment between publishers and providers.
In the face of such fragmentation and muddled measurement, it’s hardly surprising to find buyers still struggling to understand and identify their audiences. A March 2015 survey conducted by cross-channel marketing firm Signal found that just 6% of marketers worldwide reported an adequate single view of customers or prospects across all devices and touchpoints.
In the past year, the methods by which the industry pairs audiences across devices haven’t changed much, either. Both deterministic and probabilistic continue to be the only de facto methods for bridging cross-device identities. The former is preferred for navigating known, logged-in audiences, and the latter is ideal for achieving greater scale and broader use across properties.
So what has changed—or what is changing—for cross-device targeting?
For one, understanding one’s own audience from a cross-device lens has become an intense focus of brands and publishers. Many now see first-party data as the key to cracking cross-device targeting, and that prominence is leading both sides to invest more substantially in tools like data management platforms (DMPs). It is also placing an intense premium on ownership and use of that data, which has buyers beginning to question how and where cross-device providers are using these assets.
But buyers aren’t the only ones expressing concern over data use. As cross-device capabilities continue to improve and it gets easier to message consumers on multiple devices using more first-party data, consumer privacy and data concerns are rising.
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