Have you been in a meeting lately and some annoying jargon-loving colleague of yours has bandied about the term cross-screen? Don’t beat em’ – join em’ at their game of vocabulary vomit and use this handy guide put together by the team at TubeMogul to help you uncross your cross-screen wires. 

Cross-screen: Let’s start at the very beginning (because it’s a very good place to start) – and define what cross-screen is. It’s not an angry monitor or ticked-off television (before you jump to any conclusions). Instead, it relates to the basic principle that consumers access multiple screens when devouring content. They might use their mobile to play a game during ad breaks while watching linear TV. Then, they might switch that TV off to jump online and watch videos. It’s all about connecting with individuals across the range of screens that they use every day. 

Multi-screen: Say you’re a 16-year old consumer (not a prospect we ever want to re-live, but for the purposes of this analogy, just go with it). Chances are you spend a lot of time looking at a screen – and we really don’t want to know what you’re looking at, trust us. As an advertiser, you might want that consumer to watch your ad and engage with it – but you wouldn’t want to bombard them endlessly otherwise you run the risk of having them switch off. 

To avoid having them smash the screen the second they see your brand appear on it, you’ll need to change from a multi-screen approach where you buy several screens concurrently in order to broadcast your message to a cross-screen approach where you use a single platform to manage and optimise your ad buy across multiple screens. Get the difference? 

Not only does this save the advertiser money (because it limits the number of times an ad is seen by single consumer), it also ensures that potential consumers remain brand fans instead of brand foes. If the ad features a memorable, yet annoying jingle then this is especially important. 


Remember that really dull class on statistics that you probably slept through back in secondary? Well, it’s time to dust off the textbooks because we’re about to get all academic on you. 

Cross-screen can only work if you have a way to measure identities and viewership. There are three common methods employed to do this:

Panel-based. Advertisers use machine-learning techniques (otherwise known as computer software programmes) to take an advertisers’ internal data and blend it with third-party info (otherwise known as other company’s info) in order to mop up anyone you want to reach who isn’t necessarily looking at a TV. It’s all about expanding reach. 

Probabilistic. Most advertisers currently use this for cross-screen audience targeting. Specific companies like Tapad provide device association data, matching desktop cookies to other desktop cookies as well as to mobile device IDs. These likely provide extremely good results (90%+ accuracy) at the household level – unless the cookies crumble. 

Deterministic. Information provided by an individual like a login or email address is used to verify a user’s identity with certainty. Companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter can do this because they have registration data. A typical advertiser probably won’t be able to do this as consumers are unlikely to give up their info unless there’s a really, really good reason. 

Cross-screen effectiveness is all about measurement, so decide which of the above you can go with, strap in and enjoy the ride. 

Linear TV vs OTT: This is NOT the difference between a really geeky television and one that is a bit over-the-top. So, we’re not talking about a device with an attitude problem. Rather, linear TV is your good, old-fashioned way of viewing programmes at a set time on a set channel. OTT (over the top) is content provided by an Internet connection rather than via a service provider’s network, cable box or satellite. OTT allows viewers to enjoy content how they want, when they want it. It’s also really good for cross-screen implementation as it permits stronger targeting as it gives advertiser’s precise data. 

So there we have it – a few terms to help you fake it while you make it. We hope this helped you wrap your head across cross-screen capabilities. If not don’t get cross with us.