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Writing exclusively for MediaBrief, Neha Kulwal, Country Manager of Admitad India, highlights how brands can leverage cross-device tracking, its benefits, the pitfalls of tracking only one device, and the importance of collaborations between brands and publishers. Read on.

For years, tracking has been the backbone of online and affiliate marketing and provided insights about what compels customers to purchase. By recognizing which channels are bringing customers, advertisers can make decision-making more streamlined. However, until recently, brands did not realize the pitfalls of tracking only one device. Maybe the time has finally come to face the challenge.

The Problem

Now that we have phones, tablets, and laptops working simultaneously, users move seamlessly across the web. So, it is no longer possible to track the end-to-end user journey by only following the journey on a single device. If not for the recent technological developments that brought us cross-device tracking, publishers would have started losing revenue.

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Benefits

The basic way to track user activity is through browser cookies, which store unique information pertaining to that user. This is how e-commerce marketers can see what users search, making it easier to determine individual decision patterns.

Cross-device tracking allows to target their audiences with precision to close the loopholes — Based on the category that appeals to users, brands can know whether customers are switching devices, and which gadget is primary and secondary. Even though recently people have grown accustomed to buying online from their smartphone, the trend to complete serious purchases on desktop is still prevalent.

Moreover, brands and publishers can accurately assess whether the impression created by a targeted ad is being converted. With more data, companies end up spending less and achieve the desired results faster. Instead of projecting customized ads to multiple devices, they are able to create unified messaging, knowing well that a user can use any gadget to carry out the transaction.

Also, customers’ devices can be registered separately, giving the impression of two different users. Cross-device ad targeting helps to remove this confusion, making the difference immaterial.

In addition to this, knowing the device activity of different age groups can be an advantage to brands that focus on a particular generation for their sales. If they are not achieving their results through a single device, diverting their attention to cross-device measurement of data can provide a more complete profile of consumers. 

Long story short, cross-device tracking is what helps marketers to collect more data. This data can be used in a variety of ways, but chiefly — to sell more efficiently.

The Solution

Several prominent affiliate platforms have already designed solutions for cross-device tracking. Admitad Affiliate Network, for instance, has launched TagTag — the tracking algorithm which can monitor orders across multiple gadgets and browsers. In addition, TagTag gets past the ad blockers, and as a result, publishers do not lose their income due to the device-switching.

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What does it mean for the brands?

Now, advertisers have to face a dilemma — stay with the old tracking and hope that publishers do not abandon them — or pay for these extra newly tracked orders, which eventually means paying more. 

Some advertisers enjoy the illusion that sales that are not traced back to a specific advertiser are “free” and “organic”. However, all these sales come at a price — and they cost you publishers who leave when they discover the truth. Once publishers realize they are not receiving the due reward, they start looking for those who pay.

In the long run, your brand will be stranded with either very loyal or uninformed publishers who bring you few sales. And you know what that means — fewer publishers today mean fewer sales tomorrow. Stealing from publishers ultimately leads to stealing from yourself.

Secondly, brands have to consider that affiliate marketing is about nurturing partnerships. Publishers are many, but few of them so big that will keep bringing you customers for years running.

And they may already have been taken by other companies, so what you have to offer is critical. Therefore, it becomes all the more important to provide them with an environment that enables them to monetize their inventory better, so that in turn they can deliver the sales and revenues that advertisers expect from them.  

And last but not least, although cross-device tracking implies higher marketing costs, it also gives you a better understanding of your customers. Data-driven marketing has been a fashion lately, and 2021 is definitely not the right time to stop with it.