{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.


That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.


Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

Whilst multi-device consumption is quite typical, for a marketer these usage patterns can be difficult to navigate and gaining a clear view of the user journey can be challenging.

So, how to improve cross-device measurement and deliver a seamless brand experience, with relevant, timely messages to audiences across all screens?

We have the technology

I am reminded of Steve Austin, the astronaut from the popular 1970s TV series, The Six Million Dollar Man. His team set out to “rebuild” him, using the latest technology to design the first bionic man.

Similarly, the technology exists to connect user journeys across screens – desktop, mobile, tablet, connected TVs and others. Through a cross-device tracking solution, we have the technology to fix broken user journeys and ultimately improve the conversation between brands and consumers.

six million dollar man

Shopping for a Solution

To truly understand consumer behavior, you need to identify the role different devices play in the customer journey. I have compiled a “buyer’s guide” of five things you should consider when choosing a cross-device measurement solution.

1. Look for any joins you already have

Most businesses are sitting on piles of first party data; the first step to understanding the customer journey is to look inwards and see what you already have.

It is likely that you will have lots of chances to join data within your organisation. Your customer database is a great source and a natural place to start. The solution you choose should be able to integrate this data and build from there. 

2. Look for ways to enhance the data 

Work with your measurement provider to add to your current data set.

Your solution should allow for importing any first party data where a user provides information that is consistent across devices, like an email address, customer ID or login. Of course, PII data (personally identifiable information) must be hashed and encrypted to safeguard users’ privacy at all times. 

Your provider should be able to create deterministic joins based on first party data collected and joined. Keep in mind, you are not going to get every match right – no data is 100% accurate.

Even with deterministic first party data, there are circumstances that make the data less accurate, such as when multiple people use the same machine or when households share an email address.  

3. If you can’t find them, buy them

Your data can only get you so far. What about those who are visiting your site on their mobile or tablet for the first time, who you have yet to identify?

Whether your provider buys the data or creates it themselves, this is where probabilistic joining comes in. Probabilistic identification involves ‘fingerprinting’ devices using a variety of attributes, such as number of cookies stored, device IDs, public data such as IP addresses and behavioural data (geographic location and movement of devices geographically across time).

All of these factors are combined to connect disparate devices to the same user.


4. Use deterministic joins to increase confidence in probabilistic data 

Probabilistic device joining is often very accurate, but since the process employs algorithms, analysis and probabilities to match devices there will always be a degree of inaccuracy. The ‘accurate’ deterministic data can be used to validate the joins made by the probabilistic approach.

For example, take a user who’s identified themselves on two devices – has the probabilistic data also matched the same devices, or is it saying something completely different; then repeat this process as required. A cross-device solution provider should be able to provide the degree of accuracy for the data they have joined.  

5. Use the data to take action 

Similar to painting a room, the hard work is done before you actually put fresh paint on the walls. It is in the prep, the patching and the priming that makes a newly painted room shine.

Now that you have done the work to create the joins, you can look at all of your marketing performance and use the insights to enhance your marketing. 

A smarter abandoned basket campaign

Cross-device data can be used to improve marketing effectiveness and efficiency in many ways. One example is when managing abandoned basket campaigns – when a customer adds items to their online basket but does not place an order.

A problem arises when customers are targeted with email reminders based on shopping cart abandonment on a single device. This strategy does not take into consideration real user behaviour – shopping and browsing on tablet or mobile, but making a purchase on desktop, or vice versa.

Without a view across devices marketers are unable to see if people have actually converted, and ultimately this can result in a poor experience.   

To be successful at targeting users who have left items in their online basket, you need a solution that captures and joins behaviour across all screens, enabling you to send relevant and timely emails to re-engage consumers. By using this insight, brands can make their emails more effective and ensure they don’t retarget customers with products they have already bought. 

A Smart Solution for your Business

Marketers need to understand their customers’ cross-device journeys and through harnessing this information they can develop smarter marketing campaigns.

When working with a cross-device solution provider, each business should strive to use their data in a pragmatic way, understanding the value that will be gained from creating this joined up view.

James Collins

Published 29 March, 2016 by James Collins

James Collins is Managing Director for Rakuten Marketing’s attribution solution and contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn

4 more posts from this author

Comments (0)

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.