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The Growing Need For Cross-Device Tracking & Attribution Modeling Technology

Cross-device tracking and attribution is a method of collating and ascribing data from a single user accessing separate devices, and is set to become an integral part of digital marketing in the years to come. Cross-device tracking looks to collect data gathered from cookies, while cross-device attribution matches information from different devices. Together, the models create an exhaustive impression of the different touch-points a user has visited during a single purchase even if the process took place across multiple devices.

There are currently two different models for performing cross-device tracking and attribution: probabilistic and deterministic. Probabilistic models make assumptions about cross-device user identity based on algorithms and can offer accuracy rates of up to 90%. Deterministic models rely on a user being logged in to a website or app for the process to work. For this reason the data gathered is more reliable, but without the guarantee that users are always logged in the data can be limited. AdExchanger explained the difference as reach vs accuracy; probabilistic offers more data whereas deterministic gives a higher chance of the data being correct.

Facebook and Google are among those to have recognised the significance of cross-device tracking and attribution. Some critics of the system have pointed to privacy issues with regard to how the data is tracked as well as its steep cost, but it is clear that marketers cannot afford to pass upon this treasure trove of data.

Why Is There A Growing Need For Cross-Device Tracking and Attribution?

67% of consumers switch between devices during a single purchase, with 98% of these switches happening on the same day and 50% of users who make a purchase on a laptop say that they have previously researched the product using a mobile. Criteo’s State of Mobile Commerce report further highlighted this trend, showing that nearly 4 out of 10 transactions took place across multiple devices, which supports the idea that customers are increasingly using more than one device during a purchase.

Meanwhile, a study conducted by the IAB reported that 89% of agency employees said that the lack of cross-device technology is holding back the development of mCommerce. Given that 92% of UK retailers have mobile-optimised websites, it would make sense that these same retailers would benefit from cross-device tracking and attribution modeling technology.  

So What Can It Help With?

Cross-device tracking will help marketers collate data from users who are using different devices for the same or similar purchases. Previously a consumer who began a product search on a mobile or tablet before completing said transaction on a desktop would appear solely as a desktop user, giving zero credit to the other devices used along the way. There are several areas in particular where cross-device tracking and attribution will be able to improve current practices.

Targeted Advertising

The data that cross-device tracking and attribution offers to marketers could potentially allow them to bid for advertisements on separate devices and then lead a customer back to a previously visited site. Marketers should remain wary of creating advertisements that follow users around the internet, as well as being aware of the ramifications for collating massive amounts of data on consumers. In spite of this, these models should certainly be considered as part of an overall media strategy to help generate more effective methods for real-time bidding.

Cost Per Action

With the additional data that cross-device attribution provides, marketers can better understand which strategies are working. Google reported that smart home technology company Vivint discovered its CPA was 19% lower than previously thought by looking at its cross-device conversions. A banner ad on a mobile device that leads to a visit to the website later on can now be tracked in terms of its efficacy, and this can advise how a campaign should be structured.

Consumer Behaviour

The purchase journey of a consumer can now be properly mapped by using touch points, providing indication as to which digital platforms need to be optimised. For a mobile site with high web traffic but a low conversion rate, cross-device tracking will be able to inform if the same user is moving to a desktop or laptop to complete the purchase. From here a company can look to adapt certain channels based on the needs of the consumer to improve UX.


Cross-device modeling technology should be seen by marketers as a tool to fill in the gaps in the existing data rather than a new way to record information. It is for this reason that any business looking to build in the burgeoning digital market views this technology not as an innovation, but as salvation from a world of incomplete data.

Cross-device tracking and attribution is the best way to understand the relationship between mCommerce and eCommerce, so for the sake of any business looking to exploit both of these markets, a comprehensive method of recording this data is crucial.

Would your business profit from an improvement in cross-device tracking and attribution models? How might this affect your current strategy? Get in touch with us via social media or share your thoughts in the comments section.

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