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Cross-Device Tracking: Everything You Need to Know

Bigabid Cross Device Tracking

Introduction to Cross-Device Tracking

With a multitude of digital platforms and devices at their disposal, today’s consumers are increasingly interacting online through various means. The arsenal of gadgets ranges from smartphones, tablets, and laptops to desktop computers, gaming systems, Smart TVs, and a plethora of other IoT devices. An individual might scroll through social media on their mobile, conduct work-related research using their office desktop, enjoy videos on a handheld device, make e-commerce purchases from their personal computer, or monitor their fitness regimen via a wearable device.

The technique known as cross-device targeting involves the identification and subsequent delivery of advertisements to individuals across this array of devices and platforms. Statista forecasts that by the start of the next decade, an average person worldwide will have close to 7 devices connected to the network. This projection presents advertisers with the formidable task of engaging with consumers in a consistent and impactful way across every device they use.

Targeting across multiple devices can be either accomplished through deterministic or probabilistic methodologies.

Bigabid Cross Device Tracking

Deterministic Approach to Tracking Across Devices

Utilizing unique identifiers, like email addresses or login credentials, the deterministic approach ascertains that a single user is operating several devices. This strategy is notably precise owing to the distinctive nature of the identifiers associated with an individual.

Contrarily, the deterministic method has a narrower scope. It necessitates users to submit their personal details across various devices in order to associate those devices with a singular user. Predominantly, entities in possession of extensive databases of user logins or email addresses have the capability to execute deterministic tracking effectively. Typical examples include large-scale platforms like Facebook and Google, colloquially known as “walled gardens,” which can independently employ this method for targeting users across their devices.

The deterministic approach is typically seen as more reliable than probabilistic tracking, as it relies on unique identifiers rather than statistical probabilities. However, it is also considered to be less scalable due to the requirement of extensive databases and user consent.

Bigabid Cross Device Tracking

Probabilistic Approach to Tracking Across Devices

Cross-device targeting employs predictive methods, utilizing sophisticated models and algorithms to recognize consumers using multiple gadgets. It relies on non-personal indicators such as an IP address, device type, cookies, and the time of the day, among other identifiers, to make educated guesses about whether two devices are likely being used by the same person. This probabilistic approach can serve as a viable option for cross-device identification when there’s insufficient data for deterministic linking of user-device connections. 

However, when it comes to first-party data for gaming apps, a deterministic approach may be more effective. First-party data refers to the information that a company collects directly from its own customers or users. In the case of gaming apps, this can include data such as login information, in-app purchases, and gameplay behavior.

By utilizing first-party data, gaming app developers have a wealth of valuable insights at their disposal. They can track user behavior across devices with precision and accuracy, allowing them to understand how their users engage with their app on different devices. This can help identify patterns and trends in usage, allowing for a more targeted and personalized approach to marketing and advertising efforts.

Check out this article on First-Party Data for Gaming Apps.

Understanding Indirect Cross-Device Tracking Techniques. 

Indirect cross-device tracking is a method used when direct evidence linking users to specific devices isn’t available. This often involves the collection of non-personal information such as IP addresses, operating systems, device models, and cookie data during website sessions. These pieces of data can be combined to suggest that several devices may belong to the same user.

This form of targeting develops a predictive model from devices that appear to routinely occupy the same geographic area. The model is then refined using data from devices known to be commonly used by a particular user or group. Despite its utility, the IAB notes that this strategy has its limitations. For instance, tracking via mobile cookies is not consistent between different platforms (iOS vs. Android) or contexts (web browsers vs. mobile applications). Furthermore, using an IP address for user identification can be unreliable in households where multiple users share the same network.

Overall, while effective to a degree, indirect cross-device tracking techniques should be recognized for their potential inaccuracies due to environmental variables and device diversity. In many cases, these methods are used in conjunction with other tracking techniques to create a more accurate understanding of user behavior.

Bigabid Cross Device Tracking

Combining Cross-Device Tracking Techniques

In order to create a comprehensive view of user behavior across devices, many companies utilize a combination of cross-device tracking techniques. This can involve using both direct and indirect methods, as well as leveraging third-party data sources.

For example, a company may use direct tracking through signed-in accounts on their website or app to link user activity across devices. They may also use indirect methods such as cross-device cookies or IP address tracking to fill in any gaps that direct tracking may miss.

Additionally, companies may utilize data from third-party sources such as social media platforms or advertising networks to gain further insights into user behavior. By combining these different techniques and data sources, companies can create a more complete understanding of their audience.

Mitigating Indirect Cross-Device Tracking Risks

To address potential concerns around indirect cross-device tracking, the IAB recommends that companies provide clear and understandable disclosures about their data collection practices. This can include information about what kind of data is being collected, how it is being used, and any opt-out options that are available to users.

In addition, the IAB advises companies to implement data minimization practices when it comes to collecting and storing user data. This means only collecting the minimum amount of information necessary for a specific purpose and deleting or anonymizing it once it is no longer needed.

Companies can also implement encryption and other security measures to protect user data from being accessed by unauthorized parties. Regular audits and assessments can also ensure these practices are properly implemented and followed.

Lastly, the IAB encourages companies to follow ethical guidelines when it comes to collecting and using user data. This includes obtaining proper consent from users before tracking their behavior and respecting their privacy rights.

Advantages of Multi-Device Targeting Strategies

The objective of implementing multi-device targeting strategies lies in crafting a coherent user experience, one that invites a level of personalization undeterred by the type of device being utilized by the consumer. It’s about creating a bridge that connects users on mobile platforms to specific audience segments. Through this connection, messages can be tailored to align with consumer personas, taking into account mobile behaviors alongside demographic data, interest metrics, shopping trends, and purchase history.

Multi-device targeting comes with the upside of enhanced precision in ad placement, customization, and analytic assessments. It’s crucial to harmonize the aggregation of customer data from various devices with the mandate to safeguard user privacy. As the landscape evolves, marketers must keep pace with emerging tech innovations.

Unraveling the Landscape of Connected Devices

Recent insights from Deloitte reveal that in 2022, the typical household in the United States possesses an impressive lineup of 22 connected gadgets. Each home witnesses individuals engaging with a host of devices, from smartphones to smart TVs and personal computers, to navigate the digital world.

As depicted in the following visual, it’s evident that the landscape of device utilization is in a continuous state of flux. Though the exact timeframe a user spends with particular gadgets may fluctuate annually, a consistent trend emerges: Time is distributed among various forms of technology.


In modern times, the proliferation of gadget ownership is paralleled by an upsurge in the time allocated to these devices. Reflecting on the trend since 2013, there’s been an upswing in daily screen exposure by almost an hour. Presently, the average person in the United States dedicates approximately 7 hours and 4 minutes per day to screen time.

Given that individuals’ daily routines are punctuated with interactions across multiple screens, it naturally follows that their shopping experiences involve a similar pattern. This is precisely where the strategy of cross-device advertising targeting comes into play.

Harnessing Multi-Device Engagement in an Integrated Marketing Approach

In the current digital marketing era, it’s crucial for advertisers to fully embrace the online universe. Overlooking the plethora of devices that consumers regularly engage with represents a loss of critical touchpoints for conveying your brand’s message.

Utilizing an integrated approach that encompasses both cross-device and multi-channel strategies is key to connecting with your desired audience effectively. This involves reaching out through a diverse array of devices and leveraging various digital channels, including audio streams, in-game advertising platforms, and video content. An integrated marketing strategy enhances your brand’s visibility by engaging potential customers across different channels, some of which may be less saturated by your competitors.

With the advent of programmatic advertising, the implementation of cross-device and multi-channel tactics has become substantially more straightforward. These methodologies are invaluable for marketers aiming to consistently engage with their target demographic across a full spectrum of devices and platforms, from computers and smartphones to tablets and smart TVs.

Recapping Cross-Device Tracking

In summation, cross-device tracking stands as a cornerstone of contemporary digital marketing, enabling a seamless and personalized user experience that carries across various screens. As device usage proliferates, the ability to follow the consumer journey from one device to another is not just a competitive advantage; it is a necessity to ensure that marketing campaigns are relevant and resonate with the desired target audience. Cross-device tracking allows for more precision in advertising, optimizing the consumer’s interaction with the brand at every touchpoint, and increasing overall campaign efficacy. The future of marketing lies in the adept integration of these cross-device insights, driven by the evolution of consumer behavior in our connected world.

You can collaborate with Bigabid to refine your advertising strategies, ensuring they’re as dynamic and interconnected as the devices your customers use. To harness the full potential of cross-device tracking in your digital marketing campaigns please reach out.

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