Earlier this month Apple launched the iPhone 6, along with the new iPhone 6 Plus and the much talked about Apple Watch, encouraging consumers to add to their already extensive list of highly personal, highly connected devices.

It is not unimaginable for someone to own an Android phone, have Apple TV, an iPad for browsing online on the sofa and a laptop for work – with smart watches, appliances and connected cars set to be the latest additions. Owning multiple devices is becoming increasingly natural for consumers, with our data showing that across one billion consumers, each individual typically has 2.5 devices.

The industry is changing at a breakneck speed and from an advertiser perspective the view of a single consumer seems increasingly fragmented across devices. This is a hurdle for marketers who are well aware of the need to plan and buy in a less siloed fashion, with less regard for the device the customer is using and more concern over what is relevant to a particular individual within the path to purchase.

Single customer view

The Google’s and Facebook’s of this world benefit from single sign-on environments to help them gain this single-customer view, but marketers on the whole are left wondering what this new landscape really looks like.

At Drawbridge we have analysed data from over 1 billion consumers globally and found the following:

Of iPhone owners with tablets, 78% own iPads; whereas of Android phone owners with tablets, only 44% own an Android tablet.

Women prefer iOS devices, while men rely on the Android platform.

Millennials tend to use the iOS and Android platforms across devices.

Gen X and Baby Boomers are more frequent iOS users.

There are geographical differences in the way that consumers use devices

These kind of statistics shed light on how unique the makeup of a consumer’s multi-device usage can be. However, moving from one device to another is a natural process for people and part of a single experience rather than broken down into separate activities – but separating mobile, from tablet, and desktop has traditionally been the way media has been planned and bought, owing to the inability to measure and attribute across devices. 

Linear customer activity

However, technology is now enabling advertisers to see consumer activity in a more linear fashion. If a person sees an ad on their mobile for a particular holiday package, goes home and searches on their tablet before making the purchase – it is now possible to link these activities. This has huge repercussions for campaign strategy and ad spend, as marketers are able to see how channels affect each other, enabling device and channel agnostic strategies to be adopted and media spend to be allocated accordingly.

As more and more marketers use this kind of technology they can amass greater amounts of data on what is and is not working. This will enable brands to understand what works for their particular audience throughout the path to purchase. So are Facebook ads on mobile better at raising brand awareness than driving direct sales, and is retargeting more successful on desktop than on a tablet?

The possibilities of being able to identify audiences in this way are set to have a huge impact on our industry, and the more devices people pick up and engage with, the more profound that change will be. 

The industry is waking up to the fact that all advertising is cross-device for the simple reason that consumers are cross-device. Data is powerful within marketing, but the tools to interpret this in a way that is responsive to changing consumer behavior is more powerful still.

As technology bridges the identity barrier between devices, brands will become increasingly empowered to bridge gaps between themselves and their consumers. In a matter of just three years, the industry has moved from starting to identify users across screens, to a point where there are now programmatic platforms that are used to buy and sell ad inventory, manage targeted campaigns, and attribute conversions across devices – so imagine what we might see in the next three.