For marketers, it’s all about cross-platform: report

Consumers are devouring content across devices, though measurement still has a long way to go

For anyone doubting that the future of media is integrated across digital platforms, here’s a handy stat: 70% of marketers want to know more about cross-device marketing.

That number is cited in a new review of cross-device trends from eMarketer, commissioned by Dstillery. The report gathered together a number of marketer surveys from the first half of 2014. It found that cross-device advertising is consistently ranked as a top interest – and challenge – for marketers.

The 70% number comes from a survey of 650 media professionals by ad network Conversant Media, which found that cross-device advertising was the top ranked interest among respondents. Another recent survey of Fortune 500 CMOs by content marketing agency Mass Relevance and The CMO Club ranked “reaching consumers across digital touchpoints” as the second biggest challenge for content marketing in 2014 (after creating fresh and timely content).

“Marketers risk missing consumers for broad chunks of time if they cannot push content to a digital device,” eMarketer wrote in its report. “eMarketer estimates that for 2014, those with access to the mobile internet will spend, on average, 2 hours 14 minutes on a smartphone, 2 hours 43 minutes on a tablet, and 2 hours 39 minutes on a desktop.”

Across digital, mobile and television, integrated campaigns are becoming a reality, with combined linear TV and digital media buying platforms like Adap.tv offering the opportunity to buy digital and linear video together. Other traditionally display-focused demand-side providers like Turn and MediaMath are also building out mobile and programmatic TV technology for integrated campaigns.

But cross-platform measurement is still in its infancy. Although measurement firms like Nielsen and comScore now offer combined campaign measurement across mobile and desktop, unduplicated cross-device reach remains elusive. Meanwhile the ultimate goal – unique reach across desktop, mobile and TV – is still a distant speck on the horizon.

Perhaps more important than unique reach is attribution, the study of each channel’s relative impact on consumer purchase decisions. A marketer survey by Forrester and the Association of National Advertisers, cited in eMarketer’s report, found that the factor marketers ranked as most important in measuring campaigns across multiple media was “understanding each medium’s impact,” followed by “understanding the path to purchase.”

The demand for cross-device attribution is driving media players’ investments in attribution technology. This summer saw multichannel media companies Google and AOL purchase attribution measurement specialists Adometry and Convertro respectively. AOL is already experimenting with measuring attribution in TV, and claims to have a product in-market that can comparatively assess the weight of TV and digital media in purchase decisions.

As the fraction of time consumers spend on mobile increases, cross-device marketing and measurement will only grow in importance. Already an estimated 60% of U.S. consumers’ online consumption by time comes from mobile, with the majority of mobile connections coming from apps. In such a fragmented digital marketplace, it’s not surprising that marketers are seeking a way to unify strategy and discover a big-picture, bottom-line perspective.

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