Cross-Device Personalization Tactics for Display Ads

Programmatic marketing delivers on the promise of engaging site visitors on an individual level after they browse your site. This greatly expands your marketing reach as the messages don’t depend on email addresses or mobile numbers. With organizations having email addresses for 30% of their site visitors and list attrition rates remaining as high as 25-30% annually, on average, relying solely on your email or mobile channel to reach shoppers leaves a big audience you can’t reach via email.

The display ads are served on sites like and (and thousands of others) that shoppers routinely visit during their online sessions.


Programmatic marketing lets you reach site visitors – regardless of their email status – with dynamic display ads personalized to their site activity. This communication delivers efficient and relevant personal ads, reinforcing brand elements and aiding in purchase decisions to drive incremental revenue and ROAS.

It’s All about the Data
Every email marketer knows that relevant campaigns rely on the ability to segment their audience based on different data points. It’s the same for digital display ads. And while some of the data points are the same for both channels, there are a few differences as well.

Display ads let you use a combination of first, second and third party data:

  • First-party data: The most reliable and relevant data as it is based on someone’s interactions with your site and other marketing initiatives, including email, CRM data, preference center and behaviors. 
  • Second-party data: First-party data from an external source, such as a publisher. 
  • Third-party data: Aggregated through various external platforms or sites and compiled from many different anonymous sources through a data management platform (DMP). 

So what can you do with all of that data? Here are a few of the popular ad-targeting methods in the display ad environment:

  • Demographic: Allows you to serve ads to a specific audience segment based on gender, age, income or other specific demographics. 
  • Behavioral: Demographic focuses on what the audience looks like while behavioral targets the actions a person takes online, such as page visits, products viewed and conversions. 
  • Geotargeting: Similar to demographic but the audience is customized based on identify and behavioral profiles layered onto a specific geographic area, including ZIP code. It often also enables targeting by IP address. 
  • Contextual: Similar to the traditional ad buying method of showing ads based on editorial relevance, contextual targeting serves ads based on category or keywords someone searches across the web. 
  • Programmatic Retargeting: Highly relevant and effective as ads are automatically served to individuals who have already visited your site through behavioral cookie data. 
  • Cross-Device: The ability to serve Programmatic Retargeting ads to consumers across multiple digital devices. 

As you can see, the more targeted you can get, the more relevant your ads will be. The ability to reach consumers on an individual basis across all the devices they use takes your campaigns to the next level. 

The Importance of Cross-Device Data 
The importance of collecting data across multiple devices cannot be overstated. It is estimated that over 50% of all online transactions start on one device but are completed on another. And there is no denying the impact of mobile shopping; however, while more and more shoppers turn to their mobile devices to research products, mobile sales still only account for 30% of all digital sales. Organizations can’t view their audience data in silos or the view will be fragmented and incomplete.

Cookies are unable to track activity across devices as they recognize consumers as unique users per device/browser. But cross-device identification can be achieved through deterministic or probabilistic methods. Deterministic solutions recognize users through encoded email addresses or user IDs whereas probabilistic solutions use additional variables such as browser settings, location and other data sets to create statistical connections between a user and the device.

While this sounds (and is) complicated, it doesn’t have to be. Email can be used to tie users to devices – as consumers click-through messages to browse the site, organizations can capture that data and apply every interaction across every device to that single shopper’s account.

What this Means for Programmatic Ads
Cross-device identification provides a unified, holistic view of each individual consumer. Marketers that can harness data from every device have a clear advantage as they get to know and understand shoppers on a deeper level and in a truer fashion. This helps them build loyal and honest relationships. 

Imagine a shopper who needs a new TV. She starts by researching brands on her tablet and visits two websites of retailers to look up prices, delivery, installation and other details. While on those sites, she signs up to receive emails from those retailers.

The next day, one of the retailers sends her a browse abandonment email, which she opens on her work computer. She clicks through and browses the site and adds one of the TVs to her cart but still doesn’t purchase as she is still considering the purchase.

A few days later, she opens the cart abandonment email from that retailer on her phone and she clicks through and looks at different TVs. She’s still trying to decide which TV to buy.

Later, she returns to the site on her laptop but doesn’t purchase. She leaves the site to do more research but, while browsing other websites, she sees ads for the TVs she browsed on her laptop, phone, tablet and work computer. The retailer knows her and is assisting her in making a decision by presenting the most relevant information to her.

The other retailer, in the meantime, sends her daily emails announcing sales on video game consoles, smartwatches and cameras. It’s the same email they send to everyone on their list.

The first retailer clearly is offering a better shopping experience. It has done more to engage the shopper and provide assistance, and it is more likely to get the sale.

Putting it All Together
Programmatic advertising enhances your other marketing channels as it allows organizations to stay in front of shoppers regardless of their status on the brand’s email or mobile list. Whether or not the site visitor has subscribed to email, display ads can be served. If they currently receive emails or if they had previously unsubscribed, bounced or became inactive, ads can be served after a site visit. Programmatic ads greatly expand marketing reach while providing incremental revenue to your bottom line.

Ready to learn more? Let us know.

Megan Ouellet is Listrak’s Director of Content Marketing. With nearly a decade in the email marketing industry and a background in retail and technical marketing, Megan works closely with Listrak’s strategists and account managers to share the latest trends and best practices. Reach out and say hi to Megan on LinkedIn.

Listrak Insights | Retail Marketing Strategies, Insights and Trends

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