Modern marketing is at a crossroads. Old methods of getting products to consumers are starting to show their weaknesses, especially when marketers try to reach consumers across the multiple devices they use each day. Is there a way out of the “cross-device compatibility dilemma”?

What is the Cross-Device Dilemma?

For any marketer to discover the best way to solve this dilemma, the first step is to understand it fully. Put simply, the cross-device dilemma describes the difficulty that marketers face when trying to reach consumers across the multitude of screens or devices they pay attention to throughout the day. It is no longer viable for many marketing strategies to focus on a single device or media source.

People now average at least four screens per day: one for their smartphone, another for a work computer, a third for their home computer and their television. Reaching consumers across all of the screens can be effective, but it’s tricky.

How Is It Difficult to Market Across Multiple Devices?

One marketing school of thought describes two general methods of marketing to consumers: one that focuses on reaching consumers via a cross-device identity connection and another based on sheer proliferation. While the latter approach can be effective, it’s usually not very accurate or effective at reaching specific groups of consumers.

However, many marketing companies have relied on large-scale, reach-focused solutions when trying to get their products or marketing campaigns integrated with consumers’ multiple devices. This does not necessarily drive more engagement or effective reach through all the stages of a purchase funnel.

Basically, it’s difficult to reach people with cross-device marketing campaigns without sacrificing some personal engagement or identity-focused marketing strategies. Since those approaches are usually very effective, many marketing companies are looking at ways to integrate personal engagement with cross-device marketing more effectively.

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What Are The Solutions?

People-based approaches are likely the way of the future when it comes to cross-device marketing. People-based marketing is also helpful because it can easily be incorporated into mobile advertising campaigns; this is relative because mobile devices are being used more and more by consumers each year, even though they have taken some time to grow as a viable advertising channel.

This is partially because cookies are less effective for mobile-based advertising.

If you don’t already know, cookies – computational widgets that provide data from anonymous users when they visit a website – are among the most widely used (but arguably ineffective) methods of data collection that marketing companies still use today. Cookies were never designed for individualistic, people-based marketing approaches: only gathering a lot of raw data.

But as cookies have failed to do things like track consumer spending or attach data to certain consumer profiles, their limitations have become clear. In addition, many mobile devices don’t even accept cookies, making this an impossible alternative even if a company was foolish enough to take it up as their primary data source.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if you have a top-tier affordable web hosting service or excellent analytics if you don’t turn that into marketing that actually engages your targeted consumers.

So, what’s the best way to overcome these analytical challenges?

Targeting based on first-party data and a consumer’s identity is likely the way to go when it comes to cross-device marketing. First-party data is robust enough that marketing companies can build accurate consumer profiles and tailor more relevant ads to specific consumers. In this day and age, consumers are hyper-aware of ads that amount to little more than spam and phishing and are unlikely to respond positively to such engagement.

Marketing campaigns across a multi-device effort is likely to drive more engagement and greater success.

In addition, focused ads that take more money to make because of first-party data needs but which offer a better return on investment may well be more economically viable than mass-produced, cookie-based approaches.

Even better, people-based advertising with first-party data can let marketers establish genuine relationships with their consumers. This can close loops when it comes to cross-device attribution. Basically, it’ll allow ads to become even more accurate across-devices.

This negates one of the traditional disadvantages of a marketing company’s efforts to improve its advertising accuracy. Usually, focusing on accuracy reduces the scale you can bring to bear on a consumer base and vice versa. People usually filter out ads that aren’t targeted toward them.

But strategic, people-based marketing can end this correlation. Marketers save more money in the long run and earn more money and consumers are happier. Everybody wins. Thus, first-party data is only going to become more important in the future and marketers that are able to gather this data are likely to be more successful.

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Marketing and Data-Gathering Strategies Concerning Cross-Device Marketing

Of course, methods for gathering this data also need to be updated and companies need to consider how they come across the data for their consumers before moving forward. Data-gathering via low-cost USB data acquisition devices may be one way to proceed, as many of these devices forward specific data based on their attached device’s use.

Additionally, there is the rising trend of software-as-a-service business models that already have data-collection baked into their products and subscriptions. It may be that many companies are more prepared to gather specific data and tailor it to individual consumers than they think.

The relationship aspect of modern marketing has not gone unnoticed by many brands; this is seen in the rise of “Direct to Consumer” brands, which use a consumer’s spending and watching habits across their myriad devices to find products that are perfectly suited for them. Again, this results in a better experience for the consumer and a better return on investment for the marketer.

CDPs – consumer data platforms – are another rising trend that marketers are taking more and more notice of. CDPs are essentially packaged software that creates unified customer databases that are accessible on the other systems or software in a marketer’s arsenal. They essentially take data from a wide variety of sources and create a single comprehensive customer profile, which can then be leveraged by the other tools in a marketing company.

This directly takes advantage of the people-based approach described above and is well-suited to tackling the issues that cross-device marketing naturally presents. As of now, CDPs are a bit nebulous in the marketing sphere, as some are not yet trusting of this technological development while others are trying to develop their own CDPs and put an extra spin on what this type of software can really accomplish.

But although some marketing companies are not yet fully satisfied with the supposed value of CDPs, it’s clear from the CDP investment space that plenty of big players are paying attention and it likely becomes more viable and even necessary as time goes on and people-based marketing takes the center stage.

Wrapping it up

All in all, cross-device marketing is just another modern hurdle that marketing companies need to leap over in order to remain relevant. The digital era is constantly evolving and at a greater speed than any other epoch in human history. But solutions are available; it just takes smart companies willing to change to make the most of them.