What is Cross Device Identification?

    Garry Lee | Chief Executive Officer

    Why do marketers need CDi?

    We should probably start with the problem before we address the solution. Mobile can account for around 70% of all digital activity, with people accessing the web from devices as diverse as their PC and phone, through to in-store pods and wearables. If you don’t employ a Cross Device Identification solution you will not be able to identify customers and prospects who are browsing your site across these different devices. If you cannot do that, then you cannot understand the customer and if you cannot understand the customer, you cannot market to them in the most effective way – by personalising the customer experience.

    Simple explanation

    Explaining Cross Device Identification is actually quite simple, but it's understanding the details of how it works and what the benefits are, that’s the key. In simple terms, Cross Device Identification is the ability to take activity from your customer across multiple devices (desktop, tablet, phone etc…) and merge it together as a single customer view. Most people use 5 devices to access a brand, so CDi allows you to take all these interactions and merge them to ensure they are stored as an individual person.

    Even simpler with an example. Danny visits a retail site from his work PC and registers but does not buy. He gets an email on his way home on the train which he opens but doesn’t click through to the mobile. He then gets home, downloads the companies’ app and buys something through it. He later gets sent an email confirmation that he actually opens on his tablet. Three devices, multiple channels (email, web and app) – but all the same person. Tie all these interactions together and hey presto, you have a single customer view using Cross Device Identification!

    The science

    But it’s not that simple! If it was everyone would be doing it and we’d have a perfect view of customers across all interactions, but no one is doing that perfectly. So, let’s start by explaining the science part – I promise to keep this part brief!

    The starting point is to understand there are two recognised methods for Cross Device Identification - Probabilistic and Deterministic.

    The Probabilistic approach takes algorithms and calculates the probability that two different devices are the same person by using a series of information (anything from IP addresses to physical address, as well as personal markers like age) and if they conclude the match is accurate enough, then they will join these devices as one person.

    In the Deterministic method, the user is matched EXACTLY on a known identifier. Those identifiers could be email address, App ID, customer reference number etc… Whilst Deterministic might be more accurate, the Probabilistic approach has a wider reach, so ideal for things like behavioural targeting of banner ads.

    The Probabilistic approach has been seen to match anywhere between 5-15% of records, with those matches being between 90-97% accurate, depending on the system doing the work. So, it can reach a wider audience but it can NEVER offer the level of accuracy of Deterministic.

    For marketing communications like email, push, SMS and DM where it’s a one-to-one relationship, you need CDi to ensure you are personalising the conversation based on an accurate view of the customer. CDi gives you the ability to confidently personalise your communications, vital in modern marketing.

    Not all approaches to Cross Device Identification are the same


    Even within the Deterministic approach, there are different ways to deliver the CDi solution. There are two things that the best approaches have:

    1. Collecting data across as many devices and channels as possible. The more data collection points you can incorporate, the more information about a customer you can join together. A top level CDi solution will include data from online and offline, from all channels (email, social, search etc…), as well as all devices (pc, phones, tablet, wearables…).

    2. Using as many identifiers as possible to tie together these devices and channels. The more identifiers a solution can use, the greater the chance of pulling data together accurately. Each new identifier you can use increases the likelihood that an individual piece of data can be tied to the correct individual. For example, at RedEye we use 24 different identifiers.

    What does CDi mean to the customer?

    The consumer sees the brand, not the channel. You know how tough it is tying up all this activity across different channels and devices. The customer just sees that they are using YOUR website, YOUR App, YOUR mobile site, even YOUR physical store; they expect you to treat them as a single person across all these areas.

    To the customer, CDi is simply you recognising them whenever they interact with your brand, a behaviour that customers are beginning to expect rather than being surprised by. To the marketer, CDi, is at the core of the customer experience.