The term cross device programmatic attribution describes a relatively new development in the field of online marketing, which is based on cross-device tracking and programmatic buying. Technologies from programmatic buying are used to enable cross-device attribution. Cross device programmatic attribution is designed to map user behavior along the entire customer journey, regardless of which device is used to visit a website or consume other digital products, such as apps or emails. When comprehensive data about this user behavior is available, advertisements, campaigns, and performance values of websites can be used more effectively. Fundamentally, this strategy is based on an approach of tracking user behavior overall, so that advertising can be shown where users are active, whether on a smartphone, tablet, desktop PC, or laptop.
The use behavior on different devices has changed considerably in recent years. The mobile sector and the use of multiple devices have posed problems to marketers. They hardly know how diverse the usage behavior is from a cross-device perspective and how multiscreen usage and ROPO effects translate into practice. Users sometimes research product information and prices on a mobile device, while they watch TV and purchase the product with a different device later during the day. Moreover, the interactions between online and offline behavior are unclear if not all channels can be captured and evaluated with respect to user behavior. The principles of programmatic buying and cross-device tracking are designed to solve these problems.
However, there are some fundamental difficulties. On the one hand, the attribution of end devices to users would have to resort to personal data, which could in principle infringe privacy, for example, with online IDs, cookies and user profiles. On the other hand, programmatic platforms usually work with specially developed KPIs, which cannot be used without additional processing. Bids on keywords for different devices are rarely possible. To trace a coherent customer journey is therefore still proving to be difficult. There are, however, a few providers who offer programmatic buying for stationary and mobile devices, while having implemented cross-device tracking at the same time to optimize targeting or campaign strategy. These are usually big players such as Google or Facebook who invest considerable resources in the technology.
The question is: How can the customer journey be mapped? By means of advanced attribution or cross-device attribution, users and various devices are supposed to be attributed to a profile or a probable usage behavior. In this context, attribution means the accurate assignment of tracking data to a user and their usage behavior as well as the addressing of data that cannot be tracked, such as the relationships between online and offline behavior. The goal is to look at all touchpoints and to assign them to the actual user behavior. The causal relationship between different terminals, usage scenarios, and conversions is decisive in this perspective.
Cross device programmatic attribution is at the starting line in online marketing. However, the number of different channels and devices represents a major obstacle for advertising and optimization of advertising campaigns. Cross device programmatic attribution is intended to overcome this hurdle by integrating different devices and channels. Accordingly, these approaches can be regarded as a key component of multichannel marketing. However, there is legitimate criticism regarding privacy and data protection. Because most users do not notice such channel and cross-device tracking and the legal situation is not always clear.
The marketers on the other hand, see the benefits of increased effectiveness, greater targeting, and the knowledge of the entire customer journey of their potential customers. The goal is to achieve a seamless user experience that can handle all channels without breaks in the usage behavior. These breaches sometimes result in the customer experience not being able to be tracked by the provider.