What is Cross-Device Identity Data & How to Use It

Learn everything about Cross-Device Identity. Understand data sources, popular use cases, and data quality.

What is Cross-Device Identity Data?

Most consumers today use more than one device to stay connected to the internet. There are thousands of addressable media outlets, with each user using a range of devices.

The entire concept of marketing was simpler in the good old days of television, print, and radio when everything used to be sorted for marketers and all they had a pretty straightforward playground. However, with omnichannel marketing approach today, businesses need to address their consumers on all possible channels - out blogs, social media, review websites, and buying guides and the like.

Until very recently, managing online identity was all about matching customers’ online cookies and other online activities with CRM data and the task was done. However, today, the digital landscape is broader, and this is why their identity across the devices, browsers, video game consoles, and mobile app SDKs needs to be matched to follow the consumer wherever they go, regardless of the device they use.

This is when cross-device identity data comes into the role. Essentially, this data helps businesses in identifying users across various devices with the help of IDs and cross-device graphs.

Who uses Cross-Device Identity Data and for what use cases?

Essentially, cross-device identity data is used to recognize customers and users across a range of internet-connected devices that they use. This data is then used to obtain critical hidden insights like user behavior, user preferences, and user demographics and so on.

A range of businesses across all major verticals rely on cross-device identity data to fuel their marketing campaigns, whether it be a tour and travel company, an apparel brand, ecommerce store, or a healthcare company.

Here are a few use cases of cross-device identity data:

Global frequency management
As important it is to stay connected with your customers, it is equally important that you maintain the right balance. You bombard them with too many marketing communications, and the chances are high that they will unsubscribe themselves from your database.

This is when cross-device identity data provides you with details on all the users you have reached out to on mobile, search, email, video, or display. Most marketers use this data to ensure that they don’t end up communicating the same message to each of these users on different devices.

Sequential messaging
Cross-device data allows you to target a user through different ads on different stages during their consumer journey, regardless of the device they are using to connect online. This optimization is what separates award-winning digital marketers from the rest.

Customer journey modeling
Connecting user identity across platforms helps in understanding the mood of the target audiences. From tracking the last click to the first view, all these activities of a user can be tracked through cross-device identity data.

What are typical Cross-device Identity Data attributes?

The attributes of device identity data are all those parameters which help in identifying a user and confirming their identity.
Some examples could include:

  • Email or physical address
  • Online cookies
  • Device IDs
  • Phone numbers
  • Account usernames
  • IP numbers
    … and essentially anything that can be linked back to the device and its identifier.

How is Cross-Device Identity Data collected?

A typical digital consumer owns multiple connected devices. Tracking a user identity in such a scenario is a tough task.

Majorly, there are two ways through which cross-device tracking is conducted: deterministic and probabilistic tracking.

Deterministic tracking
Here, the identity of a user is tracked using personally identifiable information also called PII. This information includes email addresses, Facebook IDs, and so on. However, tracking users through this method requires a proper setup which giants like Facebook, Google, and Apple possess.

Probabilistic tracking
Quite predictably, this method obtains data on the basis of probability by tracking millions and billions of anonymous data points and tracking them altogether to gain insights on the devices. The elements that are often used to connect the dots include wifi networks, screen resolution, operating systems, and so on.

How to assess the quality of Cross-Device Identity Data?

Assessing the quality of cross-device identity data is fairly difficult. The best way here is to deal with a reputed data vendor who can assure you of the data quality.

Here are a few methods that you can adopt to assess the cross-device identity data quality:

Sample set for testing
Ask for a sample set for testing. This will help you in testing the waters and gauging that the data shared by you is actually authentic and reliable.

Ask for customer referrals
Perhaps, this is one of the best approaches. If customers of a particular data vendor seem to be happy, it is likely that the data provider provides quality data.

Research and understand data providers’ collection methods
You might also like to have a look at the collection methods used by data vendor for collecting cross-device identity data. As it goes – logical and appropriate data collection methods will yield reliable data.

How Cross-Device Identity Data is typically priced?

The price of cross-device identity data is generally based on the data delivery method:

You can get the data either through cloud storage or through push and pull APIs.

You can also get it delivered in raw form packed in JSON and CSV files.

What are the common challenges when buying Cross-Device Identity Data?

When it comes to extracting cross-device identity data, there are some challenges that crop up:

Is data authenticated or not?
Needless to say, the profiles of users come in two forms: authenticated and unauthenticated. It is no brainer that the data extracted from authenticated profiles is what you should be after.

This is because the data provided by the authenticated profile is genuine and reliable. On the other hand, the data from non-authenticated profiles is temporary and majorly consists of device-specific IDs and cookies.

Matching of data
As cross-device identity data spans across a number of devices, it is essential to ensure that the user using his laptop is matched to the same identity when he is using his tablet. A mismatch in these coordinates will disturb the purpose of buying cross-device data.

What to ask Cross-Device Identity Data providers?

Here are a few questions that you may want to ask your cross-device identity data provider:

  • How do you extract cross-device identity data?
  • How do you test and evaluate your data?
  • How are identity assets outsourced? Are they licensed or owned?
  • How do you ensure the quality of your data?
  • Are both the offline and online identifiers linked?

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