Each day, customers have countless opportunities to engage with brands and brands have countless opportunities to engage with customers.

Sixty percent of US adults use multiple devices every day, creating a highly connected, yet disparate audience. As marketers, we need to adapt our strategies to fit into this new, mobile world. 

The good news is that today, more than ever, we have better data and technology to reach people with specific messaging — as opposed to simply targeting cookies or devices. People-based advertising is all about speaking to those who actually make the purchasing decisions — the people themselves, not their devices — and offering consumers an ‘experience’ over one-way, ineffective communication. 

Speak to the Person, Not the Device

People-based advertising is all about building an accurate understanding of a user across digital touch points and transforming their journey from being device-centric to reflecting their activities and preferences. A person’s behavior will differ from device to device, but they are still looking for a consistent experience regardless of the interface – mobile, tablet or laptop. 

In order to deliver on this consistent experience, advertisers need the ability to connect user IDs across devices. This either comes from registered users, which is challenging for most brands, or a program like a device co-op. 

An example of how a device co-op works: a retailer sees two devices are connected to their site, but they don’t know the customers behind those devices. A travel site also has a person, but that person is logged in — the site knows exactly who that person is. Since both the retailer and travel site belong to the new device co-op, the retailer has the ability — through shared data provided by the travel site — to say, "I know who that user is; I can connect them to those two devices." 

The retailer and travel site can now effectively deliver personalized messages and offers to that person and retarget them, while keeping that user’s personal information anonymous and safe. It’s a community of businesses helping each other that also provides users with connected sets of experiences across devices.

Implications of Multi-Device Use 

At advertising’s core lies the ability to connect a brand with consumers and move that consumer to a customer. The introduction of mobile and multi-device use means companies need to consider how this evolution in behavior impacts their business. 

For example, if there’s a dollar conversion that happened on a device and a second dollar conversion from another device, it’s traditionally viewed as two visitors. From a revenue perspective, it’s a dollar per visitor. But in the people-based advertising world, companies can now see that both conversions were from the same person, changing the customer value of that individual to two dollars. 

Companies also recognize that multi-touch conversions are worth more — on average, 26 percent more — which further allows brands to tailor content and messaging. Viewing this user through this much different vantage point allows companies to better identify and target more granular segments.

The Benefits of Connecting the Device Dots

Chicago-based marketing communications organization VivaKi (part of the Publicis Groupe) realized the benefits of people-based marketing. It wanted to use technology to build continuity between the different phases of a conversion across multiple devices, providing the right experience to the right customer at the right time.

The first thing it looked at was creative. If you have bad or irrelevant creative, it doesn’t matter how much money you spend, it’s simply not going to work. You need to be able to deliver relevant creative at scale and ensure you’re targeting the right audience segments across devices. 

Technology today can dynamically assemble and deliver creative assets to automatically generate audience segments based on business rules. So, it needed to balance the complexity of its marketing strategy with the requirements around scale.

The Evolution of the Advertising Ecosystem 

Technology is ever-evolving and brands need to continuously assess the ways in which consumers seek and find information in order to effectively market to them. Change is constant, and the opportunity — as well as challenge — for us as an industry is whether we can adequately respond to those changes. 

An always-on approach is required: how can these different technologies help us define audiences, reach them efficiently, and deliver relevant messages and offers to efficiently drive engagement? Evolving our thinking to embrace and harness data and technology will help us drive a smarter advertising ecosystem.   

There are signs that the industry is coming together to make some of these things a reality: we’re seeing connected ecosystems that are taking various tech platforms and stitching them together for efficient workflows. We’re seeing the rise of machine learning, new algorithm development and technology being brought to bear to do work that once took hundreds of hours. These technological advancements will enable businesses to more easily implement and benefit from people-based communications. 

Title image "No rush!" (CC BY 2.0) by  ^Joe