Mobile-First Companies Driving Growth of Cross-Device Solutions

steveglanzddtData-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 Steve Glanz, co-founder and CEO at Crosswise.

The ability to recognize users across devices is a hot topic in the data-driven advertising ecosystem. Some expected that web-focused marketers, agencies and ad tech vendors, interested in unlocking the power of their web data to target the same users on mobile devices, would fuel the demand for cross-device identity tools.

Interestingly, it is mobile-first companies that are creating equal or greater demand for cross-device solutions as they try to recognize their users’ other web devices, namely their PCs.

But wasn’t leaving the PC behind one of the purposes of being mobile-first? I think there are a couple of reasons driving this trend.

Most Online Commerce Still Occurs On The Web

Despite the growth of m-commerce over the holiday season, the bulk of digital commerce is still transacted on the web. Though time spent browsing on mobile devices exceeded time spent browsing on desktops this holiday season, PC-driven sales still exceed mobile-driven sales. Among sales via mobile devices, 80% occur on tablets.

This fact has two critical implications. First, any mobile publisher that wants to tap into ad dollars beyond app downloads will need to prove to its advertisers that their mobile ad spending is driving web spending. Many mobile publishers or their measurement and attribution vendors want to connect mobile and PC use simply for measurement and attribution purposes, even though they have no plans to actually advertise to or target web users.

Second, some data collected on mobile simply cannot be effectively monetized on mobile. For example, even though data collected about a mobile user indicates interest in buying insurance, it probably can’t be effectively monetized by advertising to her on her mobile device. Advertising to her on her PC is much more likely to lead to a conversion

This will change over time as people become more comfortable buying certain items on mobile devices and as it becomes easier to do so. Nevertheless, the day when PC and mobile behavior become identical is probably far off.

Mobile Companies Have Access To Unique Data

Some mobile-first companies have access to unique data that the traditional web behemoths do not. The best example is location data.

Companies like PlaceIQ and NinthDecimal have built location profiles that companies focused on web data simply do not have. It can be exploited on the web as well as on mobile – so long as a user’s mobile device and PC can be connected.

More Web User Data Than Mobile User Data

Web media buyers have access to hundreds of segments on hundreds of millions of users that they can use for targeting. While mobile companies can access some unique data assets as mentioned, the overall availability of segments for targeting on mobile is still in its infancy.

Mobile demand-side platforms want better targeting options and mobile publishers are looking to better monetize their mobile audience by creating user segments. Both hope to grab that data from existing web segments by connecting mobile users to their PCs, along with all that PC-related user data.

Follow Steve Glanz (@crosswiselabs) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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