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You know all those connected devices we’re using — smartphones, laptops, tablets?

We’re driving marketers crazy.

Our visits to sites and our use of applications from different devices hugely complicate their ability to identify and target us across devices, especially if we’re not logged in.

In an effort to keep marketers a bit more sane, digital marketing firm Amobee is today releasing its most recent solution to this problem.

Called Amobee Ink, the technology is designed to create what the Foster City, Calif.-based company — a division of SingTel — calls “the most comprehensive and accurate profiles for targeting users” across devices.

Of course, Amobee isn’t the only marketing tech firm trying to figure this out. But SVP of product management Brian Coppola told VentureBeat that many of the other vendors’ solutions are “probabilistic, since they are inferring the probability” that you are the same person across devices from only one or a few pieces of data.

But, he said, Ink is “deterministic, in that we know it’s the same user.”

Like other cross-device ID technologies, Ink, which has been tested in a beta release with some of the company’s clients, has two separate identification tasks: the device and the user.

Ink identifies the device by recognizing one or more data points, such as an Apple IDFA, an Android ID, or an ID provided by a publisher, so that the system can see that there’s one iPhone in the morning, a specific Android tablet in the afternoon, and a different iPhone in the evening.

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The Amobee system can also use cookies, those snippets of code that are deposited onto computers so you can be shown web ads relating to your recent search engine query, even as you move from site to site.

But cookies have issues on mobile devices, where apps are king. So Amobee is trying to stay cookie-independent.

In addition to IDing the device, there’s also the task of IDing the user. The company said Ink tracks you anonymously, as a nameless ID number for a Core Profile.

Coppola was reticent to tell us all of the data points employed to construct this Profile ID, because they represent Amobee’s special sauce. He did mention the data could include “some identifying event,” such as a number given by a website to a user who has shown such-and-such interests. It could also be a provided email address or other information stored about a user in a customer relationship management (CRM) system. The completed Profile consists of the user mapped to several devices.

While other marketing vendors, such as Adobe and Criteo, are similarly attempting to map anonymous but profiled users to specific devices, Coppola said Amobee Ink is distinguished by its ability to scale and by its use of multiple data points to build a high-quality Profile that can persist over time. Despite our best efforts, though, we couldn’t get Amobee to define this distinction any further.

How does all of this benefit a marketer, advertiser, or publisher? Such a system can, for example, be used to selectively send several ads on the same product to the same user on different devices without deluging her. Or it can help determine if a user who saw an ad on one device later made a purchase on another.

Whether they employ probabilistic or deterministic tools, future marketers may look back at this time as the halcyon days of device mapping. Because instead of marketing only on smartphones, tablets, and laptops or desktops, they will have to deal with consumers communicating with brands and publishers through dozens of things that now sit blissfully inert.


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