Ladies and gentlemen, in case you haven't been paying attention, cross-screen is officially the hot topic of 2013. Everyone from mobile platforms and Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs) to PC ad networks are positioning themselves as cross-screen players and vying for a piece of the coveted pie. Whether you call it cross-screen, multi-screen or cross-device, it's about one thing: following and reaching the consumers across screens.

With the intensification of this "device schizophrenia" – consumers jumping from device to device, starting a task on one screen and finishing on another – it's crucial that advertisers and brands meet their audience wherever they're spending time. Consumers expect a holistic message, regardless of device or medium, and sending multiple messages across multiple mediums without a connection strategy can result in a fragmented consumer experience. It can also be a nightmare to manage disconnected, siloed campaigns across mobile and pc. But with so many players jumping on the cross-screen bandwagon, how can advertisers sift through the pack?

Let's start with the challenges. First and foremost, mobile lacks cookies. This means advertisers and publishers who are used to tracking consumers using cookies run into hurdles when extending into mobile. Second, there is the lack of attribution. Considering that there isn't a simple common standard for tracking from mobile to pc, it's hard to know when you're actually seeing the same consumer on a separate screen. Add these issues up and you're left with, advertisers asking themselves whether or not the 'reach' is really there. Can these ad tech platforms actually deliver more than a handful of the same consumers across multiple screens? The bottom line is that some can and some can't. Any advertiser or brand looking to make the cross-screen leap should consider these three factors.

Reach

Advertisers need to understand the real cross-screen reach an ad tech player can deliver. Some players may have significant reach in mobile and smaller reach in PC, while others may have the reverse; neither case really works. Advertisers have already been burnt by players who deliver a so-called cross-screen campaign where 99% of the reach was on the PC and 1% was in mobile. It's crucial that advertisers work with partners with reach on both sides. Many of the players with the highest cross-screen reach will be those that started in mobile. Of course we're biased, but the proof is in the pudding. With mobile's lack of a prominent cookie, mobile players already needed to figure out a way bridge the iOS and Android platforms, app and mobile web experiences, and tablet and smartphone devices in order to deliver a comprehensive campaign. The groundwork has been set; using that algorithm to bridge online and mobile is the logical next step.

Quality

Do you know how ad tech players that claim cross-screen match audiences across screens? If you're an advertiser, you should, because they tend to fall into two camps: probability matching and one-to-one matching. Providers that use probability matching will see two consumers behaving the same way in mobile and PC, and decide that it's the same, individual consumer. This is essentially an educated guess, not a true match.

One-to-one matching leverages a combination of tactics such as publisher logins and IP addresses. The publisher login approach is used by ad platforms that work with a publisher whose users log-in to both mobile and PC versions of the site or app. The user who logs in to a dating app on their smartphone and the same dating site on their PC, can easily be seen as a one-to-one match. This is the gold standard of cross-screen matching, but can only be used on those audiences who have logged in across screens. A second tactic of one-to-one matching is IP matching, or identifying a consumer across screens because they're using the same IP address. An essential part of this type of matching is to ensure that the IP address isn't linked to a place of business, but rather a household.

While one-to-one matching is still not a perfect science, the accuracy is increased by using a combination of tactics that are all stronger than probabilistic matching.

Unified Reporting

Advertisers and agencies are deluged with reporting from their many partners in mobile, online, TV and other mediums. To help simplify and solidify results, a cross-screen partner should deliver one unified report. This isn't just about ease of consumption, but rather the ability to see the frequency of reach to the same consumers. Look for frequency capping and retargeting to garner the optimum target reach. Unified reporting should reflect this, and also show how the advertiser increased engagement through multiple touch points. Push your ad tech partner to bring you the insights that matter most in a unified way.

What's Next

What's the next frontier for cross-screen? Television. While true scale and accuracy are not yet fully available, there are a select few companies beginning to test across mobile, PC and television. Stay on the lookout for fully integrated capabilities toward the end of 2014. In the meantime, the number of ad tech companies that say they can do mobile to PC cross-screen is increasing by the week. On a bandwagon that is beginning to creak from the weight of its riders, advertisers need to sift through the pack in order to find the best fit.

Adam Chandler is Senior Vice President of Sales at Jumptap. Chandler is a media sales and management veteran and has spent the last 14 years working in digital advertising. Adam can be Adam+Chandlerreached at adam.chandler@jumptap.com.

Read all Adam's MediaBizBloggers commentaries at The Chandler Files.

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