Mobile ROI and Cross-Device Advertising Done Right

May 11, 2017 — by Floriana Nicastro    

Many advertisers see mobile as a black hole. Consumers spend 65% of their time on mobile devices but much of that time seems un-monetizable. While there’s proof that such advertising works, for many that proof isn’t as compelling as on desktop.

As a result, the industry is observing a massive $22 billion gap between user time spent and advertising spend on mobile.

Breaking news! Mobile is actually the primary vehicle to influence consumer purchases. You’re just not able to see it.

When you’re navigating through desktop, mobile and tablets, you’re not only surfing through different devices but also different environments using different user identification methodologies. Building the bridge between all those worlds has been a challenge for the last five years. Only a few actors of the market have managed to gather cross-device data at scale with accuracy to have an accurate user view.

The good news is that measurement is improving and advertisers have more insights today to better understand their customer path to conversion and how mobile is impacting their business. Consider these steps to help build successful planning:

  • Understand how your customer is interacting with your brand

While having a complete view of user cross-device activity may be challenging, such activity is a good indicator of determining: Which device has your customer used when first interacting with your brand? How many of your website visitors are coming from desktop and how many are coming from mobile/tablet? Which device does your customer use when converting?

  • Build a unique online identity

Since consumers split their time between mobile, desktop and TV, knowing the consumer’s cross-device identity allows for a stronger consistency in advertiser messaging along the customer journey and better accuracy in advertising performance view. A cross-device solution is vital but it’s important to get it right.

The ad tech industry has developed a few solutions, especially in the past year. I believe the most accurate method to determine cross-device identity is to gather deterministic data. Deterministic data affords 100 percent accuracy and when there’s scale, it offers a robust cross-device solution because deterministic data includes a user ID, or a login. The user will be logging in across their devices (desktop, mobile, tablet) and across the environments they are surfing in (website, app).

The second method for establishing cross-device identity is to use the proprietaries of the device itself to determine user identification. Advanced algorithms will use this data to determine the probability of two devices owned by the same person. Probabilistic data can be based on user agent, font, networks, IP address and browser, among other factors. The accuracy of identification cross-device has shown some limits when it comes to gathering probabilistic data at a large scale.

  • Think further and build the bridge to offline

In the last year, unified identification has become even more important for brick-and-mortar businesses, since they want to understand the impact of their online advertising over their in-store revenues.

Again, when impact of mobile in-store is easy to understand, using observed behavior such as ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline), it’s a real challenge for advertisers to attach their mobile advertising investment to in-store revenue to determine real ROI.

Today advertisers have three solutions to unify online and offline activity by finding common ground to user identification:

In-Store Traffic

Location data allows advertisers to improve their advertising relevance according to where the user is, where they’ve been and when, all based on smartphone data.

In-store traffic lift allows advertisers to estimate the incremental lift online advertising brings to their in-store traffic by overlapping the user ID of the customers reached through the campaign and customers who have been in-store.


Coupons can provide unique IDs that can be used to link online ID and offline conversion. By using coupons, the user will generate an ID where advertisers can link to a cookie ID/device ID. When converting in-store, the coupon ID used for the purchase will be stored and then mapped to online IDs to attribute the conversion to your campaign.

CRM data onboarding

CRM data mapping provides highly valuable information to in-store user conversion. By being able to bridge CRM data through third-party ID mapping, for instance, using a loyalty card as common ground for internal mapping, an advertiser can then easily calculate the overall ROI from its advertising activity.