Is anyone still doubting the usage of multiple devices? Consumers today are owning ever more devices, as well as shopping on them. In return, companies are impacting consumers along their buying journey in a myriad of ways – through ads, content, social media, influencers, apps, and so much more.


Why cross-device tracking?

With the growth in usage and size of mobile devices, it is no longer clear which devices are being used to research, compare and complete the purchase. In fact, nearly one-third of all online transactions involved two or more devices from the first website visit to the point of purchase. Additionally, ever more consumers are constantly switching between different apps as they move from device to device.

The result? A continuous intertwine of digital interactions from both consumers and businesses. As businesses lose their physical footing, consumers now purchase from all over the world. Therefore, businesses need to find a competitive edge for themselves. They need to find the perfect point of ROI by impacting the customers with their marketing messages at the right place and time. After all, when every penny counts, digital spend must be leveraged as accurately as possible.

But can businesses really understand their customers in this digital maze? This is where cross-device tracking comes in.


But cross-device tracking is hard

The great divide between priorities and capabilities

As consumers continue to pursue their purchase journeys across multiple devices, cross-device tracking is necessary to get an accurate picture of the true customer journey. Without it, marketers will see single-purchases only, instead of being able to identify the single user behind multiple devices.

However, while many see the need for cross-device tracking, many do not actually have the capabilities they need in their company. An Econsultancy study presents the strong disparity in north American companies, with 74% naming cross-device tracking as a priority, but only 14% are capable of it.

With the influx of big data and few choice for cross-device tracking capabilities, marketers may have to settle with a probabilistic guess (based on their IP addresses, cookie data and other non-personal data) to link users to their experiences on different channels and devices.

Fences up in the walled gardens

Naturally, deterministic tracking would be a much more reliable method. It only matches the experiences to the user when there is a definite link, often based on an opt-in that gives the user a unique ID on each device.

Unfortunately, this is at its most accurate only with the giant players like Facebook and Google, as users are logged into them with almost every device, and their user base is extremely large, and their ability to track across devices extremely strong. However, these same companies, not incidentally, are major sellers of digital media. Their strategy against the rest is to build walled gardens, so marketers are unable to export insights and match them with their neutral third-party technologies to analyse other campaigns elsewhere.


Is our marketing doomed?

As consumers get ever more diverse in their search for information, naturally the need to understand this complex behaviour rises. There is no perfect solution, but your choice of technology provider will make a large difference.

First, you can ensure the neutrality of the technology from whether it sells or earns from digital media sales. Only with independent technologies are you able to be certain that all data will not be altered in any form to favour the media they are selling.

Assuming you have also ensured their tracking is reliable through its use of white-label tracking (implemented on your own domain instead of a redirect), you can also check on its probabilistic method of cross-device tracking. If they have a carefully curated combination of factors taken into consideration (general rule of thumb: the more, the better), you will get a better matching quality, and more accurate customer journeys.

This enables you not only to analyse and identify how important mobile is to your customers, but also to understand the cooperative dynamics between apps being switched, as well as to ensure a seamless brand experience when consumers switch from one device to another.