Back at the beginning of the month, we mentioned Google’s decision to roll-out expanded text ads by the end of January 2017 but that’s not the only big announcement Google had up its sleeve this quarter. Announced in a blog post on the 25th of September, Brad Bender, VP of display and video advertising discussed it in greater detail at Advertising Week in New York a few days later and it is now official - Google has finally launched cross-device retargeting - hooray! So… I’m bringing you the latest on Google's decision to offer cross-device retargeting and how this can benefit us advertisers.

History of targeting

If you are familiar with its products and processes, you will know that for years and years, Google has been fairly restrictive with the way it allowed marketers to use data for anything other than measurement - and rightly so, it is a business out to make money after all. However, in the last year or so, following the lead of various social platforms, Google began to leverage user data to target ads to its users.

During Advertising Week in 2015, Google unveiled ‘Customer Match’ allowing us advertisers to upload customer email address lists into AdWords. With Google matching the uploaded email addresses to addresses of signed-in Google users, advertisers have the ability to:

  • Reach out to an extremely relevant, more likely to convert audience
  • Adjust bids accordingly to encourage conversions
  • Create ads that are specially tailored to those customers

In addition to Customer Match, Google also introduced Similar Audiences allowing advertisers to reach a relevant audience. Based on signals from current customers, Google analyses interests and behavioural attributes and display your ads to an audience with similar interests. At the moment, Similar Audiences for Search and Demographic Targeting for Search are both in beta and Google’s Sundeep Jain has been quoted saying this is "A natural evolution of targeting."

Cross-device retargeting has arrived

Back in October 2013, Google released the estimated cross-device conversion metric providing advertisers with access to conversion insights and after three years of it being highly requested by huge numbers of advertisers, we now welcome cross-device retargeting - it’s been on our wishlist for some time.

As of late, if you visited a website on a smartphone, advertisers would not have been able to retarget their ads to that specific user on a tablet or desktop device unless they had also visited the site on those devices too. Without the use of cross-device retargeting, this one user would effectively be listed as two unique users as Google could not distinguish between the different devices. This is also true for users that are signed into the same Google account but on multiple devices as in the past, Google hasn’t relied on the account you are signed into, instead, has relied on the cookies from your browser as well as IP addresses and mobile IDs for retargeting purposes.

Before the introduction of cross-device retargeting, the best solution was to use email list remarketing as this is cross device according to Dave Davis of Redfly.

However, with the introduction of cross-device retargeting, it’s time to say hello to extremely effective retargeting and accurate analytics data!

Courtesy of AdWords Blog

Image courtesy of AdWords Blog

“We’re introducing cross-device remarketing for Google Display Network and DoubleClick Bid Manager to help you reach the same user across devices, apps, and sites. You can now tell a single story to your audience and decide how frequently they see your ad across devices.”

Brad Bender, VP of Display and Video Advertising

Why has this been introduced?

As well as being one of the most important things on an advertisers wish list, a recent study commissioned by Google with Ipsos found that 60% of conversions in the US begin on one device yet end on another. Of course these figures will differ in the UK market, however ultimately, this has left huge gaps in our ability to connect with past site visitors effectively through retargeting and has finally been recognised by Google.

With previous models, advertisers have had less control over frequency capping and if a user had looked at a website on mobile and on desktop, there was the chance they could have been remarketed to across both devices. However, thanks to cross-device retargeting, to save overwhelming the audience, advertisers will have greater control over the frequency in which users will see the ads.

Will in have an impact on conversions?

As Google has never had cross-device retargeting options previously, this announcement is a pretty big deal. With the increased usage of smartphones, retargeting users on mobile after that had previously viewed your ad on desktop presents a great opportunity for driving conversions and only time will tell how much of an impact this is having.

Cross-device retargeting will be rolling out globally over the coming months and we’ll be sure to keep you updated with the latest!