Cross-Device Attribution and Creating Adaptable Marketing Campaigns

February 18, 2015

By February 18, 2015insights

The evolution of technology has changed the way we do things and as a result marketing campaigns need to adapt accordingly. Although our lives are filled with tablets and smartphones, the desktop computer is still the main driver of search ad conversions and generation of the largest number of clicks. However the journey to the final conversion begins on other devices before finally concluding on a desktop computer.

All these devices complement each other and play an important role in the buy cycle. As the target audience divides an activity between various devices, digital marketing agencies are tasked with identifying the factors that contribute to the final sale. Further, each activity can be split between different locations like home and the workplace, so it is important to understand the impact of these events when it comes to the final sale. This is a new area in marketing called attribution modelling and as the industry is still in its first phase, marketing specialists are still figuring out the rules of operation. The whole online marketing industry has always been based on collective knowledge and the acceptance that everything changes quickly, so it can be seen as a natural evolution of the industry.

How are people using various devices?

Understanding consumer behaviour on various devices is imperative to figure out how it affects the buy cycle. Attribution is consistently lost when devices are switched, so it is importance to design methods to understand lost attribution.

Industry research has found that individuals who browse using tablets usually search and research products on the device, but make the purchase later. They usually use the tablet to review various products while simultaneously engaging in leisure activities like watching television. This is true for consumer behaviour on smartphones as well, however seasoned users are different. Studies have found that those using tablets for more than a year tend to make purchases on the device itself without switching. This means that some market segments perform better on mobile devices rather than desktop computers.

So on one hand we have individuals using tablets and smartphones solely for finding out about products while others are using it to conclude the transaction. According to research conducted by the search giant Bing, tablet clicks in the morning lead to purchases later on. So either way, you have to conclude that these devices play an influential role in the buy cycle.

Like people who browse on tablets, smartphone users are more or less the same when it comes to browsing behaviour. Mobile phones are used to view reviews, store locations, and product specifications. Studies have found that 32% of mobile users conduct their research on a smartphone and make the final purchase on a desktop computer while 37% make their purchase offline after conducting research on a smartphone. However, these purchases are often small buys that are often impulsive and inexpensive.

Application of Attribution Data

When setting up your ecommerce website, it is important to make the experience quick and easy across all devices. Information on mobile devices need to be concise and easy to navigate while each page should load within 5 seconds. In order to achieve this, the website should make use of white space and avoid filling it up with heaps of content and images. It is also important to have a clear call to action and only one call to action informing your visitors about what you would like them to do. Further, it is imperative to have large buttons on the mobile platform on your site to enable users to easily click them on small devices like mobile phones.

Differentiate Cost per Action (CPA) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Different Devices

If your customers start the buy cycle on a smartphone and complete the purchase via a desktop computer, you will need to set up your mobile CPAs higher to accommodate this behaviour. As a result, the CPA for desktop computers need to be set a little lower to acknowledge the role of mobile devices in the buy cycle.

Google AdWords and Google Analytics are great tools to gather information from multiple sources. Although the data is not complete when it comes to attribution, the information is very useful to help marketing managers make decisions. Reports like Top Conversions Paths, Path Length, and Assisted Conversions can also help you make informed decisions. Google also provides Estimated Total Conversions which estimates conversions on websites, cross-device conversions, and phone conversions.

The impact of multiple device attribution in the buy cycle is still not completely understood. With issues like privacy standing in the way of understanding these behaviours, we will have to make do with the data that we have access to and adapt digital marketing campaigns accordingly.