Smartphones are everywhere, and current trends show that mobile devices have now taken over desktops as the primary device for searching the web. As a result, it is now essential that advertisers are present at all stages of the buying cycle, which often initiates on a mobile device and converts on a desktop. It is because of this that cross-device targeting is likely to become the most effective form of marketing in the future, especially in the realm of dynamic remarketing. Cross-device targeting is easily achievable through paid social channels, which is mainly due to the abundance of user data available – from email addresses to likes and dislikes, there is no shortage of useful information to be used. However, it is a harder task to execute through search engines, where users are typically more private and have a range of options available in terms of hiding personal information.

Current capabilities

Our current ability to target users across their devices is fairly limited, with most advertisers only able to see the amount of conversions that have been achieved across devices. Without actually being able to target users in this manner, the only effective cross-device remarketing available is from external companies which do all the heavy lifting for you. Companies like Drawbridge offer their product at a 97.3% verified precision, allowing users to gain a greater knowledge of their consumers’ behaviour, and to optimise their campaigns as a result. These services are very much exclusive to advertisers with the budget to support the software and technology that comes with these kinds of company.

The future of cross-device remarketing

There is hope yet for businesses which do not want the third party expense and would rather manage their cross-device remarketing in-house. In the near future it appears that Google will be introducing a new feature for AdWords, where you will be able to add users converting from different devices to new or existing remarketing lists.

The impact of this will be extensive, as many advertisers will now be able to target their customers across their devices, allowing them to provide a more personal experience. The area where this is likely to have the largest impact is through dynamic remarketing, where advertisers will be able to show previously viewed products to users on desktop, tablet and mobile, inviting users to experience an even greater level of personalised content.

Where are the limitations?

There will of course be limitations to this. Advertisers will only be able to target users in their CRM database, and it is only recommended for advertisers with 100,000+ users on their system. This means that you will only be able to target already existing customers, and it will only be an effective method of targeting for companies with a large customer database. As a result, this will be ideal for companies who want to focus on returning customers rather than acquisition, but companies with a smaller user base may not see similar benefits. It will also rely on customers being signed into their Google accounts with the correct information on all devices, and there is still a large portion of users who actively browse on Safari or Firefox. It is fair to say that this is a relatively limited form of retargeting, although there are undoubtedly exciting things to come in the future regarding cross-device remarketing.

The ability to provide personalised content to users on multiple devices will open up a huge world of opportunities, and it certainly looks like Google is moving in this direction.

How do you think this could be utilised? And where will this have the largest impact for Paid Search? Let us know what you think via Twitter @RocketMill