This sponsored post is produced by LiveRail. 

Ask what advertising is and you may get quite a few different answers. But most will agree that the overarching goal of advertising is to persuade or influence people in some way. The operative word here is people. Advertisers want to reach people where they spend a bulk of their time — which is where mobile comes in.

More than 80 percent of time spent on mobile devices in the U.S. is in apps. Despite mobile usage among consumers continuing to skyrocket, ad spend is struggling to keep up. This can be attributed to a number of factors, but arguably the most substantial are unreliable measurement and targeting. Advertisers want to be able to see accurate and clear campaign results to optimize and determine ROI, while mobile app publishers and developers want to deliver strong results for their buyers without hindering user experience.

Cookies (in the context of advertising, pieces of code that enable the measurement of how people interact with ads) are frequently used to target and optimize ad campaigns on desktop. While it isn’t entirely fair to say that cookies don’t work on mobile, the reality is that they don’t work well across mobile environments. Today’s consumers are not only shifting back and forth between mobile web and mobile app environments, but they’re using multiple devices, including tablets, smartphones, and recently even smart watches. This means that a device is no longer a proxy for a person.

According to Econsultancy, 25 percent of people use three or more devices each day. This fragmentation really brings the limitations of cookies to light. Also, the functionality of cookies is unique to the device, making them unreliable when it comes to optimizing ad campaigns, tracking conversions, and accurately targeting ads to consumers across multiple devices. In fact, campaigns that use cookie-based targeting are reported to be only 60 percent accurate (Nielsen).

This lack of accuracy isn’t just detrimental from an advertising standpoint — targeting is a big part of creating a positive experience for the user which affects overall sentiment for an app and its user attrition rate. The app landscape is crowded, and considering the average size of a smartphone screen, it’s crucial that mobile app developers create a superior in-app ad experience to avoid losing users. Too often today, someone may see an ad for a product, express interest, and eventually purchase the product, but then weeks later, still be shown the same ad for the exact same product — a major advertising and user experience fail.

“We’ve found that the way a user is served ads is a significant part of their overall experience with our app,” said Chandra Hill, VP, Monetization at MobilityWare, the company behind top-ranked free-to-play casual card games like Solitaire and FreeCell.

“Better targeting, like showing more relevant ads to a user, enhances the user experience and can actually positively influence our app store ranking. It’s crucial that our monetization efforts don’t hinder our engagement or increase attrition rates — which is where Facebook’s Audience Network has been really helpful. We’ve been able to have ads targeted to our users with a much higher degree of accuracy, creating a more consistently positive experience while driving ad revenue, and maintaining our industry-leading retention rates.”

The bottom line is that to satisfy the inherent needs of each party (mobile publisher, advertiser, and end user), the ability to target ads to real people across devices is key. This shift in thinking and focus from impressions to real people, is gaining ground in the advertising technology industry with many claiming to do “people-based marketing,” the ability to target real people across devices.

The reality is that there are three critical components to keep in mind when evaluating the legitimacy of the people-based marketing promise — accuracy, persistence, and scale. For campaigns to reach unique people across devices, the technology platform delivering those campaigns must have authentic information about real people (accuracy), insights about their purchase path over time (persistence), and a clear understanding of a large portion of people who are active online today (scale).

Michael Wright is Product Marketing Manager at LiveRail, a Facebook company.

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