Digital Marketing

Google’s New Cross-device Remarketing – Everything You Need to Know

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If you’re anything like most digital marketers, you’ve been wondering: Is cross-device tracking really possible? The answer has been… kind of.

Three years ago, Google announced an “estimated cross-device conversion metric” that represented a small first step toward true cross-device remarketing. Then, just last year, Google announced its Customer Match feature, which allowed you to leverage email lists to engage customers across various devices.

But legitimate cross-device remarketing was only available through competitor platforms that didn’t have Google’s reach.

Until now.

Google announced on Sept. 25 via blog post that it will help you close the loop between “all devices people use — phones, tablets, laptops and everything in between” by offering “cross-device remarketing for Google Display Network and DoubleClick Big Manager.”

This is a major development that can have a major impact — if you take advantage of it. Cross-device remarketing holds the power to help you achieve better marketing results, to better document those results and to demonstrate value to management and other stakeholders.

The Way We Use Devices Has Changed

Why is cross-device remarketing so valuable? Because the way consumers use technology has dramatically changed in recent years (and will continue to change in the future). The speed at which these changes have arrived is more revolution than evolution. In the past 10 years, we’ve seen the emergence of secondary devices that have blown up the linear nature of the digital advertising world. Today, a single consumer may use a personal computer, a work laptop, a tablet and a smartphone to browse and make purchasing decisions. Consider these findings from a recent Google report:

  • “We live in a mobile-first world: In an average day, more than 1/4 of all users only use a smartphone, which is nearly 2X as many as those who only use a computer.
  • We freely move back and forth between devices to get things done: Over half of users rely on more than one type of device in an average day, with 1/5 of them using another device while concurrently using a computer.
  • Where we are influences how we use our devices: The top three places people use their smartphones are home, work, and in a store.
  • Search has gone mobile: Of those who search, nearly 4 in 10 search only on a smartphone in an average day.
  • The web is one of our most used resources: Of those who browse the web in an average day, almost half do so on multiple devices. More than 7 in 10 users browse the web on their phones or computers in an average day.”


People using multiple devices makes it much harder to accurately track the results of marketing campaigns. That is, multiple devices made it much harder. Google’s September announcement changes things.

Better Engagement, Better Measurement

Cross-device remarketing will let you better manage your engagement and better measure your results. As Google’s announcement puts it, “you can now tell a single story to your audience and decide how frequently they see your ad across devices.”

That’s a powerful development that opens up all sorts of new possibilities for brands.

Google’s cross-device remarketing will be accessible only when users are logged into their Google accounts. But this is less of a problem given that Gmail has reached one billion-plus monthly users, a landmark announced on a Feb. 1 earnings call. When users are logged in, you can connect with those users on one device and then seamlessly continue the interaction when they pick up another. This also allows greater control over frequency capping.

Better control over frequency capping means better control over your story. So think about the brand stories you want to tell. Every great story has a distinct and compelling beginning, middle and end. You can craft a product story that engages your audience throughout the day:

  • Morning: Introduce your product via smartphone while your customer waits in line at the coffee shop.
  • Noon: Offer a promotion via desktop while your customer mindlessly browses while having lunch at his or her desk.
  • Night: Demonstrate your product’s features, advantages and benefits via tablet as your customer sits on the couch after a long day. Reinforce your promotion and make the sale.

Your single story has been told. Your customer has been engaged. And your conversion has been tracked. It’s unlike anything marketers have been able to do on AdWords before, and this is just one example of the many possibilities now available. Use Google’s data on device usage by daypart to plan and optimize campaigns.


Consumers stand to benefit, too. While many unwittingly follow your brand story online through targeted, relevant advertising, the use of multiple devices has too often disrupted that story. Not anymore.

When Do We Start?

After the blog post announcement, Google’s Brad Bender shared more about these new developments at Advertising Week in New York City. According to AdWeek, Bender declared that the “loop is now officially closed” as it related to cross-device remarketing.

AdWeek quickly noted that this new function isn’t yet fully available, but that it will roll out in coming months. While you may be eager to take advantage of cross-device remarketing, you’ll need to be vigilant and prepared as it comes online. According to AdWeek, this holiday season and early 2017 should be prime-time for new features to roll out.

If you’re eager to start prepping, check the Cross-Device Activity report in Adwords to gain a better view of device performance across the conversion path.


Cross-device remarketing across the largest online advertising network should put a smile on the face of marketing managers everywhere. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to take advantage of it.

Ready to rock with cross-device remarketing? Contact us for a Google AdWords consultation before this new feature starts to roll out.

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