Will Cross-Device be THE story of 2015?


By Laura Koulet, Product Manager

Earlier this month, AppNexus announced its acquisition of MediaGlu, a cross-device tracking company, for a reported $200 million. So, what is cross-device tracking and why is it worth $200 million? Because today’s digital consumer is an advertiser’s worst nightmare!

In a cookie dominated world, consistent identification was relatively easy. But as my colleague Adam Markey argued in Business Insider last year, we’re moving into a post-cookie world. My digital footprint is proof of that.

I own four devices: an iPhone , an iPad, and two laptops. (Actually, make that five. My TV is connected to the Web.)  And each of these devices offers different ways of being identified.


Cross-device solutions attempt to unite these disparate identifiers into a single portrait of the consumer.

So what makes up a common identity in a cross-device world?

Well, there’s the venerable cookie, including cookies that represent anonymized CRM data. There are device IDs (my phone has a unique identifier.) Same for my tablet, TV set top box and increasingly, my other connected devices.

Broadly speaking, the goal of cross-device tools is to link these many digital aliases into a common identity that can then be targeted with marketing messages tailored to that person’s path to purchase.

Without a way to tie these together, nearly every aspect of the marketer’s carefully planned campaign is called into question.


Without cross-device technology, advertisers have no way of knowing how often they’ve actually exposed their audience to their messages. Counts siloed by creative type or device type will mount separately, giving no visibility into optimal frequencies to generate conversion.

Audience Targeting

Today there is no good way to extend audiences that marketers have built online to mobile and desktop, and vice versa.  Cross-device will enable those capabilities.


Advertisers have no way of measuring unique reach. For example, siloed systems could report me as four different and unique individuals based on my device profiles. The result is overstated unique reach.


Conversion credit is often misassigned to the channel delivering last click or view. This means the media plan will overvalue last mile channels and undervalue the ones that help get people there.


With frequency mismeasured and credit misassigned, cost per anything will be skewed, leading to suboptimal investment allocation.

Sequencing and storytelling

Finally, without good visibility into the cross-device universe, marketers will struggle to tell consistent, well-crafted stories. When ads are disjointed or even irrelavant, the customer experience of the brand degrades.

Given all that, it’s easy to predict that cross-device solutions are going to come fast and furious in 2015.