The benefits of cross-device conversions in DoubleClick

Blog | 17 Jul, 2016

Written by Robert Gensler and Robby Douglas.

With an ever-increasing digital landscape, metric measurement continues to be a high priority. Customer journeys are no longer dependent on singular devices, but can now involve multiple devices on the journey to conversion. DoubleClick’s cross-device measurement is one way to make use of available resources to help tell the story in a more accurate way.


The cross-device measurement data is dependent upon recording conversion metrics; essentially allowing your DoubleClick ad tech to have visibility of all your activity. Within DoubleClick, floodlight tags provide the necessary insight. Floodlight conversions in DoubleClick Campaign Manager are based on the last click (or impression) for the look-back windows. The floodlight considers clicks to be more significant than impressions. Therefore, to avoid double-counting conversions, click conversions override impression conversions.

How do cross-device conversions work?  

The measurement uses Google’s anonymous cross-device data gathered from a signed-in user’s devices across all Google properties in an anonymous way.  Using proprietary device graphing, cross-device conversions are determined from signed-in behavior as well as expected behavior for signed-out users.  


Deterministic vs Probabilistic – What you need to know

When talking to any cross-device platform, measurement company, DSP or ad network it is wise to ask how they tackle cross-device activity.  As ad tech companies have been trying to accurately bridge the device gap for years, there are two key ways of doing this: deterministic and probabilistic.  

Deterministic modeling is based on known variables. Probabilistic is based on the probable distribution of variables.  

Fundamentally, deterministic is good and probabilistic is less so – in fact, probabilistic ranges from non-existent/extremely poor to pretty impressive. Probabilistic is a model or algorithm a vendor has developed to act as a detective, working out how probable it is a user is the owner of which devices. Companies are quite clandestine with regards to how this works, either to protect their IP from being stolen or possibly ridiculed.  

Deterministic uses a unique identifier across platforms, such as a login ID, to confirm the users are the same.

Traditionally, the issues with probabilistic are that it is hard to do and the solutions out there are not always reliable.  While deterministic is accurate, it is often not scalable.

So why DoubleClick?

One of the most powerful aspects of the DoubleClick platform is that it shares login information with Google, and uses solely deterministic information to deliver cross-device conversion performance.  When you consider a number of people with a Google login, which comes from apps, software, and sites such as Google, the Google Search app,  Maps app, Chrome Browser, Android, Gmail, Search homepage….all of the Google-owned properties. No other technology in the market can offer that.  


What are some standard scenarios and what are the benefits?

Cross-device modeling reattributes the conversion based on the environment where the last interaction occurred.


Scenario 1:

  • The customer sees a desktop ad.  
  • The customer then sees a mobile ad but doesn’t convert.  
  • Finally, the customer is back on desktop and converts.

This would count as one traditional {conversion} and would show up as one {conversion + cross-device conversion}.


Scenario 2:

  • The customer sees a mobile ad.  
  • The customer then clicks on a desktop ad but doesn’t convert.  
  • Finally, the customer goes to an app organically on tablet and converts.  

This would not count as a traditional {conversion}, but would show up as one {conversion + cross-device conversion}.


How can cross-device conversions affect reporting?

Reporting can show a lift in conversions when comparing {conversions + cross- environment} against traditional {conversions}.  The reporting also provides insight into the conversion path and provides some visibility to conversions that were not previously calculable.  


How can cross-device conversion data help when optimizing campaigns?

Cross-device conversions metrics can provide more insight to help model strategies for success.

Going back to Scenario 2 above, the mobile ad might not have appeared to convert, and the mobile budget might have been trimmed or cut.  When taking cross-device conversions into account, this can show the impact the mobile ad had on the conversion, even if it wasn’t the final interaction point.

Cross-device conversions are driven by many different factors.  Employing strategies should also take multiple factors into consideration:

  • How is the site set up for multiple device conversions?
  • Is your floodlight tag set up adequate?
  • Are there different device strategies?
  • What is the overlying strategy for the customer journey and path?


How does cross-device tracking play into attribution?

Cross-device tracking is a key part of the attribution story that any marketing team wants to round up. There are two key steps in telling this story:

  1. Set device tracking up, as this article lays out.
  2. Implement the most appropriate attribution model for your user journey

Multi-device conversions are determined in Google marketing tools with their device graph. If a user is logged into any Google platform (Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Chrome--to name a few) on their desktop and phone, then they will be identified as one user. Their pathway would then make a device distinction on top of the type of touchpoint (click vs. impression & channel). 

Because not all users are constantly signed in on all their devices, this paints an imperfect picture. However, all facets of attribution analysis are always evolving. This is the best cross-device perspective right now and will frame the multi-device story.


Final thought

Finding the right strategy can take some time, but having additional insights and data from cross-device conversion metrics can help show results in different ways than before, providing a complete picture of the journey to the conversion.

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