More Dots, More Problems

In this piece, Caroline Ingman, brand manager, EU, Specific Media (pictured) discusses how marketers are faced with more and more data points (dots) and how to solve the problem of connecting the dots to gain meaningful insights from marketing activities.

In this increasingly device-first world, it is more difficult than ever for marketers to see past the screens and identify who their customers are and how to reach them. As device usage changes and device types expand, the consumer takes on many different digital guises, depending on where they are and what they are doing. In fact, a recent study ‘Getting Connected’ has revealed that this year the average number of devices per household stands at nine – an increase of 3.5 devices in just three years.


This trend, coupled with the growing popularity of sharing connected devices, has meant that simply delivering campaigns through specific device channels just doesn’t cut it. Marketers need to understand the person behind the device and deliver messaging across devices in a connected and unified manner in order to maintain a meaningful conversation with individuals, and their respective households, as they move between their screens.

While cookies are able to track behavioural profiles through a consumer’s laptop, desktop and, to a certain degree, mobile and tablet, there are limitations. Cookies get deleted, go stale or are simply not supported by many browsers and/or devices. The increase in shared devices within a household can also result in mistaken identities with cookie targeting alone. For example, on a certain browser, my cookie data lists me as male in my mid-thirties because I often look up building supplies due to the fact that I am currently building a house. I happen to be female, but I am targeted with irrelevant ads based on that tiny snippet of my online persona.

In a world of personalisation and preference, marketers need to minimise this case of mistaken identity as their advertising budget relies on their ability to reach their target consumer. In order to successfully reach the correct individuals across connected devices, it is necessary to understand the device ecosystem within the home.

With this in mind, cross-device targeting methods are evolving in order to keep up with these changing habits. This has also meant that methods, such as cookie-based targeting, are no longer able to offer the required targeting accuracy. Therefore, it is vital that we establish the most effective way of cross targeting consumers to drive results for marketers in today’s ever-changing environment.

It is imperative to think of the person at the end of the device, and what message might resonate best with them. By combining household IDs, such as IP addresses, with extra data layers, marketers will be able to see more clearly who their target consumer is who they hope to reach. With stickier data points than isolated cookie data, marketers can layer up different offline data sources, including FMCG shopping preferences, TV viewing habits, and insurance renewal periods to ensure more accurate targeting.

The key to successfully carrying out a truly cross-device campaign is by understanding how customers are behaving in terms of their device usage habits and thus moving towards cross-device, cohesive approach. These innovative offline data resources give campaigners the opportunity to uncover the type of people they are reaching out to in a relevant and timely manner – creating a consistent reach of the brand’s message as consumers continue to share and switch devices within the home.