How Cross-Device Marketing Can Help Brands Clear 4 Critical Hurdles

nickjordan“Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Nick Jordan, senior vice of president of product and strategy at Tapad. 

Internet ad revenues hit a record $20.1 billion for the first half of 2013, up 18% over the same time period in 2012, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. This is good news for the digital advertising industry. Some, however, are better equipped than others to deal with the inevitable changes that come with such rapid growth, especially as it’s happening in parallel with the expansion of digital screen options available.

One of the first things marketers can do to keep up is to understand the difference between multiscreen, multichannel and cross-device marketing. We all use plenty of jargon on a daily basis – we’re ad-tech folks, right? –so I’ll take this opportunity to define the terms and argue why the cross-device approach is more effective than others and how it should ideally bring all members of a team together.

“Cross-device” represents the most integrated form of modern, targeted advertising. Cross-device marketing involves the plan and sequence of a seamless cascade of messages and content across devices. Every aspect complements the other parts.

Multiscreen and multichannel also speak to the variety of devices available to marketers, but do not necessarily imply that messaging is in sync from one platform to another. With multiscreen and multichannel approaches, silos within marketing teams can and do exist, while cross-device marketing requires these silos to be torn down.

Cross-device marketing requires that brands and agencies address four critical problems:

1. Message Creation: Taking a holistic look at how the creative should be experienced across devices seems obvious, but it is still far from the norm. Many traditional agencies still struggle to embrace all that digital offers, lamented creative and production executives at a recent Art Directors Club meeting.

Just think: When planning a shoot, many commercial producers and directors miss the incredible opportunity to create content that would be appropriate for smaller screens, such as outtakes or other entertaining and informative content that could run on laptops, smart phones and tablets, complementing the holistic campaign. Given how common the “second screen” has become for television audiences, this omission is detrimental to the creative process and to business results.

One must have the right kind of content for the right kind of device in order to sequence and parse it out. With no content and nothing to sequence, the story goes flat.

2. Delivery And Frequency Capping: When media teams plan across devices, which is becoming the norm, controls can be created to avoid an advertising barrage. We don’t want people to see the same ad more than a few times on the same device, but we do want them to see the right content wherever they are.

For example, if a retailer sees that someone used a laptop to view a child’s toy at its ecommerce site, it can now send ads to the device for the same product later that day. Taking it to the next level, the retailer could also market that toy to other devices used by that consumer – even devices that were not used to visit the retailers’ site.

The ads could use different, complementary pieces of creative, including varying lengths or a mix of static display and interactive video, all designed to entertain, inform and lead the consumer back to the site to make a purchase. If it becomes obvious that none of the ads are generating any action, frequency capping will ensure that their delivery ceases after a certain exposure limit is reached. Of course, all data is anonymized, but a very basic understanding of behavior across devices – in other words, marketing to humans and not to technology — can keep that toy-shopper from being inundated with irrelevant or unwelcome content.

The most important thing to remember about frequency capping is that the retailer should distribute enough content to engage, but not so much to become a turn-off.

3. On-Site Personalization: As with the frequency-capping example, it is possible to understand actions taken across screens and deliver content accordingly. The aggregate of this data taken from multiple devices enables better content targeting and a certain degree of on-site personalization.

So if a mobile user sees an ad for a cable company’s latest high-speed Internet offering and then visits the company’s page on his desktop computer, that particular package should display first, rather than just the generic homepage. Cross-device allows users to feel like content delivered to their devices was targeted for them, not at them.

4. Analytics And Attribution: We can finally track which channels drive people to make purchases after talking about doing so hypothetically for a decade.

Again, cross-device marketing requires holistic thinking and basic teamwork so that all members of the marketing organization know what is happening across a campaign at any given moment.

Brands can gain this imperative intelligence and adjust the media buy or creative at any time during a campaign to keep those sales coming.

A cross-device marketing approach is efficient, can engage consumers on their terms and garners measurable results through brand lift and increases in purchase intent. Tearing down silos in our organizations can be difficult but the ROI will speak for itself.

Follow Nick Jordan (@nick_jordan), Tapad (@Tapad) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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