Addressing the Mobile Mind Shift

A real change is at hand when it comes to understanding mobile audiences, and we’re only really beginning to understand the effect that mobile devices are having on consumer buying habits. This is what Forrester recently named “The Mobile Mind Shift” in a new book, which they define as “the expectation [in consumers] that I can get what I want in my immediate context and moments of need.” With this level of immediacy, and with an average of three or more devices being used per consumer, the need for a strong cross-device-enabled marketing campaign is greater than ever.

In this piece, Brian Ferrario, VP of marketing at Drawbridge (pictured) asks: why isn't it happening? Even with the changing landscape unfolding before us, marketers’ siloed buying habits are leading to ever-more fragmented campaigns that provide a less-than-desirable consumer experience. Ultimately, this mindset needs to change.

The fragmentation of our digital footprint

The advent of the cross-device marketplace is very much a consumer-led, rather than a marketer-led, phenomenon. This is clear once you consider retail, and specifically, ecommerce behaviours. For example, Forrester found that 44% of consumers will switch devices throughout their purchase journeys, and that for those who start their purchase journey on a PC, 72% will continue on a smartphone, and 28% will continue on a tablet. Consumers’ expectations of mobile synchronicity are high – they look for optimisation across all sites, personalised ads that are contextually relevant, as well as consistency across all digital touchpoints. It’s clear that cross-device identity has become a strategy that marketers have to either adapt or adopt in order to have a seamless conversation with consumers.


Aside from the prospect of launching an ineffective mobile campaign, marketers have to be accountable for their spending. This is partly the reason they have convinced themselves of a few misnomers. First, there is a belief that the only way to correctly identify consumers is via logins and registrations, commonly known as a deterministic method. Whilst not only being false, this is greatly limiting a campaign’s potential reach, as the maximum audience is limited to the user-base of that single platform or 'walled garden'. Fortunately, deterministic data is not the only option; technology is a legitimate path. Whilst scientifically complicated, an algorithmic, probabilistic approach can identify consumers at a 90% or higher precision by relying on big data and machine learning, not consumer-provided data. These techniques can be compared by reach and scale, and precision and accuracy; and in both cases, probabilistic methods are comparable to deterministic.

Marketers have also submitted to the false notion that mobile is not measurable, whereas it is in fact a completely attributable channel. If you understand the consumer across the various devices they own, then reach on mobile gets measured in the form of actions taken by the same consumer on other devices. As marketers are responsible for proving the impact of their spending, it is easy to understand why prior to cross-device technologies, mobile seemed like an unattributable channel. A probabilistic approach to cross-device also has the benefit of democratised data, that is, the ability for marketers to own the consumer relationship and use the data outside of the deterministic walled gardens.

The walled garden versus the open playing field

The problem with remaining safe within the confines of walled gardens is that marketers are blind to the opportunities that are right front of them. Forrester’s research shows that 51% of marketers say “our company understands the impact mobile can have on our overall success”. This shows a fundamental lack of communication and an absence of belief in the cross-device approach across half of the sector. The technology is there to address these issues and it’s clear that some marketers are keen for it to be implemented as part of their strategy. Forty-six percent said “a lack of cross-functional teams are a mobile challenge,” so what is stunting development in this area?

The key issue is that planning, strategy, and execution are all siloed. Budgets are allocated to desktop and mobile separately, which leads to each department working independently from one another. For a cross-device campaign to be truly successful, marketers' campaigns across personal computers, mobile devices, and emerging devices like connected TVs, need to come together under one single budget, one cohesive insertion order, and one broad measurement scope. Only when this happens will we see big advances in addressing consumers' mobile mentality.