The digital era has bestowed consumers with a number of ways to stay connected. From desktops, laptops to tablets and cell-phones, people are using a multitude of devices. This has made the task of marketers that much more difficult. Advertising products with consistent content and branding as consumers move from one device to another is key for marketers.

The age-old solution of using cookies to track consumer behavior is no more relevant; cookie don’t work on mobile devices. Mobile IDs are used for tracking smartphones. But with consumers using both smartphones and computers, the challenge is in merging data seamlessly to help marketers identify customers across devices.

The solution is cross- device tracking. It’s the latest buzzword in the online ad world.

What is cross -device tracking?

With most people using a number of devices to access media, it has become increasingly difficult for marketers to approach consumers based on cookies as they do not work on mobiles and apps the way they do on computers. But cross-device tracking can help marketers in identifying a consumer across devices and thus make approaching him or her easy. This means no wasted impressions, easy identification of consumer and no wastage of valuable resources.

There are two approaches to cross-device tracking:

1. Deterministic- This involves using PII (personal identified information) of a user such as his or her email id. This identifier allows marketers to match and target the same person across a host of devices.

2. Probabilistic- Here, an algorithm is used to analyze thousands of data points to create ‘likely’ matches among devices. The algorithm tracks a variety of attributes such as location, Wi-Fi details, IP address, etc. and attempts to make a probable match that the user is the same on all the devices. As the name suggests, this approach only gives an estimate.

Here are a few tips to create a cross-device strategy:

1. Set an objective: Before kick- starting a marketing campaign, set a concrete objective. It is important to understand that cross-device tracking is not a marketing strategy, but only a tactic to help achieve the overall marketing objective. With an omni-channel model, brands can target the same customer across devices.

2. Be creative: Different devices offer different opportunities for creative design and audience engagement. A single creative cannot make the cut across devices. Brands need to think extensively about implementing their content strategies. They need to optimize and customize.

3. Keep track: It’s imperative to track the performance of ads across all devices they are being displayed on. This means, the brand has to put a system in place to get information on conversion, impression and engagement. And since, the concept of cross-device tracking revolves around keeping a tab on user behavior and patterns, marketers can get to know a customer’s inclination towards using a particular device, the time he spends on it, the kind of websites he browses, etc. Armed with this insight, companies can plan their marketing campaigns and allocate budgets accordingly.