We have seen how mobile devices have contributed to an increase in search conversion rates year-on-year, meaning our efforts to help clients understand the importance of a well-designed mobile strategy to capitalise on this opportunity have risen in tandem. This year, Google has hit us with an impressive statistic: 54% of purchase decisions start on a mobile device. This seems logical when further statistics show that we check our mobile devices roughly 150 times a day.
So far, clients have been taking steps in the right direction by developing responsive mobile sites and, on our side, we've been making good use of device reports and mobile ads or extension options. The caveat is that apparently up until now, we've only been seeing a small part of the wider picture. Google notes that "looking only at traditional same device metrics oversimplifies your customers' path to conversion", mainly because their conversion journey is fragmented into multiple steps across devices and media types.
This month both AdWords and DoubleClick have announced the addition of cross-device columns to their reports, creating plenty of excitement amongst clients and advertisers alike - but what exactly are we expecting? Well, the same picture other advertisers have already seen: an increase in conversions since many steps have been missed in the purchase journey due to switching between devices; finally the purchase journey can be measured from discovery to intent to purchase based on device. Case in point, US retailers have reported a 16% uplift in search ad conversions after adding cross-device data to their metrics.
What might marketers need to be concerned about? Data accuracy. Google has said they will use deterministic (logged-in) data as the base of a probabilistic model. Tapad CEO and founder, Are Traasdahl, has expressed concerns about the accuracy of both types of data taking into account previous experiences, stating "we use both probabilistic data and deterministic data, and we see pluses and minuses with both approaches". He highlights the fact that people might have more than two email addresses, phones numbers "as well as shared devices between you and other family members".
As advertisers, we might just need to take this data with a pinch of salt, and to remind our clients that this data is an estimate of conversions and we should merely use it as an indication of cross-device behaviour.