Cross-screen advertising aims to create meaningful connections between consumers, their various devices, and the accessible data. Ultimately, what matters is giving brands the ability to create and measure targeted ads in order to drive sales. At the end of the day, return on investment (ROI) is that Holy Grail.

So how do we reach the ultimate goal of cross screen advertising? During one of our recent industry roundtables, PluggedIn led a discussion on the trends, strategies, and challenges, marketers are experiencing in the space.

Where we are and where we’re going.

Currently, the average consumer uses 4.5 devices. We’re on our tablets while we watch TV, on our computers at work, on mobile during our commutes (and everything in between). 90% of tasks are complete on multiple devices. So while phone have been growing larger, this multi-device world certainly isn’t going anywhere. Considering that in 2007 there was no iPhone and in 2010 there was no iPad, to think that there won’t be something completely brand new on the scene four years from would be very short-sighted. As the Internet of Things becomes more persistent and connectivity increases, cross screen will only continue to be relevant and vital.

The science of advertising vs. the art of advertising.

The debate between deterministic and probabilistic may ultimately be a false concern, as the focus should really be on the ability to deliver on the attribution and finding the right target. It’s not just about the science of advertising, but the art of advertising too. We need to bridge the gap between an eye-catching ad unit that causes a click and getting information that’s accurate, targeted, and personalized. Publishers are starting to demand more rich, immersive ad units that work across platforms. Trying to put too much exact science around advertising isn’t worth it. At the end of the day, it’s still about selling products.

The future of the cookie.

Everyone’s talking about identity, and within this discussion is a bigger question about the future of the cookie. Many believe that this tracking mechanism that has allowed advertisers to track, attribute, and understand the impact of their spend in digital is eventually going to go away. But what will it be replaced by? What we need is some sort of universal, digital ID that connects a unique back to multiple devices—because we know that’s the way we’ll be consuming media for the foreseeable future. Some version of a digital ID is going to win out ultimately, and most likely it will be deterministic and probabilistic combined.

Taking things offline.

Ecommerce is growing approximately 10% a year, but from a small number, relatively speaking. Offline still accounts for 85% of all purchases. While consumers may start the purchase process online, they still end up in a physical store. We need data to understand the path to purchase. But of course, mobile still fits into this process. Consumers may not purchase on mobile, but they certainly have their phone handy while in store and when they’re comparing products. This device is the consideration engine.

The user experience and points of friction.

When consumers search for a pair of shoes online and then see an ad on Facebook, they see right through that, naturally. But when they’ve already bought that pair of shoes and are seeing an ad for their purchase, then that becomes a truly bad experience. As data becomes more available, brands will be able to have better communication with their customers and more consistent messaging.

And it’s not just about mobile advertising, but the mobile experience as a whole. Marketers must understand that they can’t just take what they’ve made for desktop and repurpose it. Consider the difference between trying to buy an airplane ticket via the American Airlines app (which takes you out of the app when you get to the point of purchase) and buying a movie ticket via the Fandango app. As mobile purchasing continues to become increasingly easier than any sort of checkout process via the web, people will be buying more and more on their phones. This will be great news for brands, of course—but marketers must first take into account user flow to create better, more harmonious, less fragmented experiences.

With the rising popularity of payment solutions like Square and Apple Pay, consumers are becoming more comfortable combining their phones and wallets—and happier too. Whatever the future of mobile purchasing, the key is reducing points of friction within the user experience to ultimately drive commerce.

Don’t think of mobile as a separate channel, but as another access point. It’s another piece of the pie, and as brands become more comfortable with mobile advertising, they’ll be able to make that pie bigger, putting more spend where users are. At the end of the day, brands just want to understand their consumers, push product, and gain market share. That’s the Holy Grail.

What do you think is the key to success in cross screen advertising? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Roundtable Participants:

Drawbridge: Polly Lieberman, VP Sales

Deeplink: Noah Klausman, Co-founder & Head of BD

mediaglu: Marcus Startzel, CEO & Chairman

Lotame: Rishit Shah, Head of Product

AdBrain: Jesse Hurwitz, VP Americas

BlueCava: Sandy Streim, VP Sales

Mobtext: Andy Hoffman, VP Mobile Marketing

Crosswise: Steve Glanz, CEO & Co-founder

Responsive Ads: Eric Schwertzel, Chief Business Development Officer

Roundtable Moderator: Pano Anthos