Study Rates Three Methods Of Cross-Platform Targeting

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Joanna O'Connell, ForresterIn a new report, Forrester Research senior analyst Joanna O’Connell identified the pros and cons of three of the most common techniques for targeting consumers across platforms: cookie-based targeting, person-based targeting and inference-based targeting.

In terms of cookies, O’Connell noted that the usefulness of the third-party cookie is “finally showing signs of strain … in an increasingly mobile — and privacy-aware — world." However, “there remains no clear winner in the multiplatform targeting game.”

Person-based targeting, which involves collecting personally identifiable information about people, such as their email addresses and phone numbers, is highly accurate and works across various platforms, but has its own weaknesses. “Person-based targeting has a highly promising future,” O’Connell wrote, “But struggles today with access challenges … scale issues … and privacy concerns.”

As for inference-based targeting, using data points to make inferred guesses about a device and its relationship with other devices also has potential. Ad agency VivaKi recently partnered with the mobile demand-side platform Adelphic Mobile to incorporate the vendor’s inference-based targeting capabilities into its ad-buying service.  Other companies offering similar capabilities have also cropped up, such as Drawbridge, AdTruth and BlueKai.

The downfall of inference-based targeting, however, is in its limited scalability and accuracy and privacy issues, particularly in  “confusion about persistent device-based [targeting] versus more ephemeral inference-based targeting — that scares many marketers,” O’Connell noted.

Although a perfect targeting solution does not exist, there are several ways marketers can increase their chances of successfully communicating with the right customer at the right time, she said. According to O’Connell, data-management platforms and third-party providers, among other approaches, can help enrich user profiles. Making sure a company has a measurement system and clear privacy policies also is important.

The bottom line, O’Connell noted, is that “it’s time for marketers of all stripes, not just the customer relationship management (CRM) team, to embrace the idea of relationship management — continuously endeavoring to positively engage with users across the customer life cycle from acquisition through retention — and use that to drive their broader approach to targeting.”

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One Response to “Study Rates Three Methods Of Cross-Platform Targeting”


  1. dataguy81 says:

    Great article to bring up. I don’t think the challenges of cross screen targeting and reporting are brought up enough. There seems to be a major gap in marketers claiming to doing cross screen and them actually executing an integrated cross screen buy.
    Cookie targeting is still primarily at the household level. There is no way to detect which households share desktop devices. A 13 year old girl can very easily share the same desktop/browsers with her 45 year old father (leading to faulty targeting and reporting data). It is also challenging to detect true unique users and frequency across a campaign due to cookie churn on the rise. There is such a massive variance between the avg frequency median and mean if you look at raw impression level data at the user level. Even if on the backend numerous cookie IDs could be tied to one identifier, ad serving systems can not accurately cap and optimize on true unique users.
    Additionally, it is very challenging to execute a cross channel marketing buy when the mobile side uses inferences/fingerprinting and the desktop side uses cookies. How can the bridge be made for reporting and attribution given the counter methodologies?
    The carriers and ISPs are at a clear advantage to build the true connective tissue between cookies and mobile audiences. There is a lot of work to be done in bringing in other types of media and devices. The Drawbridge, Tapads of the world are making good steps, but we’re in the 1st inning.

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