Why increasing device fragmentation is having a positive impact on mobile ad targeting

Cellphones, smartphones, phablets, tablets, e-readers, PCs, notebooks, games consoles, smartwatches, smartTVs, connected cars… there’s an ever-expanding array of Internet-enabled device types and vast numbers of them. Gartner predicts there will be 6.4 billion connected devices used in 2016. This device diversity should not be seen as a barrier to mobile advertising, but rather as an opportunity to achieve better targeted ads.

The perceived barrier arises through concern that ads sent to the wrong type of device will not display properly, will delay the download of the site, will be inappropriate for the user, and will cause frustration with both the publisher and advertiser. There’s no excuse for greeting an Android/Microsoft/BlackBerry smartphone user with a massive download-our-iPhone-app interstitial app.

The opportunity arises when the advertiser knows the type of device, the capabilities of the device, together with what can be inferred about the user and their context, allowing a more targeted ad to be delivered.

Here are six ways that knowing what device a visitor is using can help to target advertising. This isn’t just about sending the right shape/size ad for that device and connection, but also what can be assumed about the user’s context, demographic and expected behavior based on the device they use.

Device detection is an essential component in the ad tech world making it possible to target advertising based on the following criteria:

1. Device type

Is it a) wearable device b) feature phone c) smartphone d) e-reader f) tablet g) desktop PC / laptop e) games console f) smart TV? What type of smartphone etc is it? What can we infer from this? A games console, smart TV or tablet user is more likely to be at home and in a recreational frame of mind than a smartphone user.

2. Device model

Knowing the exact model enables advertisers to target ads relevant to that device e.g. “get the latest for Sony PlayStation 4”; “Upgrade your iPhone 4S to an iPhone 5S today”. Assumptions can also be made about demographics based on the price-tag and age of the device.

3. Device properties

What size is the screen – will the ad fit? Is it touch-screen – do you enhance for tapping and swiping? Does it support HTML5 – allowing for cutting-edge rich-media ads?

4. Connectivity information

Knowing if the device is on WiFi or a mobile (operator) connection (2G, 3G or 4G?) determines what experience, e.g. banner or video ad, the connection can handle. It is also possible to infer context, as WiFi is more likely to be indoors – at home, work or in a café.

5. Device location

The mobile device knows where it is, either via GPS, if a more advanced handset, or by cell tower and WiFi hotspot triangulation. If the user is prepared to share this information, hyper-local targeting is possible e.g. advertising to people in close proximity to the advertiser’s location.

6. Mobile sensors

The accelerometer detects motion, speed of motion and tilt i.e. horizontal or vertical of a device, the compass detects the direction the device is pointing (moving). If shared, a Web/native app will know if the device is on the move, flat on a table or even if the user is lying down, as well as enabling navigation towards the advertiser’s nearest outlet.

Combining this device knowledge with the digital advertiser’s traditional tool kit (see below) provides much more of an opportunity to target ads at mobile users, than was ever possible with PC users. Thus device fragmentation should be seen as an opportunity, certainly no barrier.

Traditional Internet advertising relies on two sets of data to deliver its results:

1. Contextual Relevance

• The content being viewed.
• Time of day.
• Other tie-ins e.g. offline ad campaigns.

2. Purchase Intent

• History of interest in certain products.
• Products related to previous purchases, searches or site visits.
• Products bought by others with similar behavioral profile.

For more information on how device detection is used to enhance mobile advertising, in terms of targeting and reporting, and how it works within the tradition ad network and real-time bidding environment, download the free white paper: Ad targeting in a multi-screen world.

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