Spectre: A review and implications for cross-device tracking

I saw Spectre (the latest James Bond movie) last night. By way of a review I’ll post what I emailed my wife while waiting for the parking lot chaos to clear.

Movie was ok. Not the best. No real story. Rich cast but undeveloped characters. But lots of high speed action and the theater was high tech so every time there was an explosion the seat would shake and I could feel it. I wasn’t expecting Hamlet but a better writer could have extracted more psychological depth. Even so, considering I spent 2.5 hrs in the theater and didn’t yawn once, it was ok.

Without giving away much of the plot I can share that Bond’s on the tail of a Bad Guy in the movie. Bad Guy heads Spectre, a data collecting consortium. The dastardly plan culminates with all governments outsourcing their surveillance to this organization. Bond has to foil the plan despite the odds against him.

I know! the excitement leaps off the page.

Anyhow, midway through the movie the character played by Ralph Fiennes references Orwell’s 1984. This being a Bond movie after all, the dialog had the depth of a butter dish. But it did turn my mind to work at least until the next car chase started. Our privacy policy and our users’ expectations of privacy have been top of mind.

On Cross-Device Tracking & its importance to e-Commerce

I expect that 2016 will see greater public awareness and media coverage of a technology called Cross-Device Tracking. Marketers need this technology to understand consumer habits – especially when the consumer jumps multiple devices in her journey to research and/or to purchase a product. One application of this technology is how the web activity on your handheld device affects the ads that show up on your desktop device. Infernotions’ interest in developing this technology is to get an accurate measure of the impact of marketing to shopping behavior. The business problem is quite profound.

Over a third of retail traffic is on handheld devices but purchase volumes lag behind. Two reasons are cited by retailers

  1. Shopping experience on the mobile device is sub-optimal for e-commerce,
  2. Handheld device used primarily for research (even when the shopper is in the retail store).

Without cross-device tracking, retailers lack clarity on if and how much mobile advertising contributes to their top line revenues.  So a marketer continues spending on the last-touchpoint in the e-commerce, arguably the poorest use of the marketing dollar. For perspective, I’m sharing below a chart on the shopping funnel for one Funnel_Data_2015-11of our customers on three stages of the shopping journey – awareness, engagement and the purchase trigger. The last leg in the journey is a minuscule component of the complete shopping experience but for a marketer – the key concern would be about the exponential drop in volume from the engagement phase to the purchase. Knowing about the channels in the engagement phase can help the marketer influence the shoppers relatively early at arguably lower cost than paying for the last click. Since shoppers use multiple devices on their path to purchase, cross-device tracking gives retailers visibility on what channels they need to influence to gain the consumers’ business.

What are the privacy implications with cross-device tracking?

There are two components to the cross-device tracking technology

  • Deterministic tracking: Done by matching a user on his/her sign-in account across different devices
  • Probabilistic tracking: Done by matching the device type, operating system, IP address and other hardware characteristics to link a user to different devices using the digital fingerprint.

Lately the United States’ Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has developed an interest in the technology and is hosting a workshop on Cross-device tracking on November 16. The agenda covers the following topics

  1. What is Cross-Device Tracking?
  2. Technological Perspective on Cross-Device Tracking
  3. Policy Perspective on Cross-Device Tracking

The event will be webcast. See the link below:

Nov 16, 2015, 9:00 am EDT – Cross-Device Tracking – An FTC Workshop

This should be good to attend for anyone with involvement or interest in data management, privacy policy development or marketing.

Infernotions’ perspective

We guide marketers on where to spend next! The problem is huge and affects every retailer that relies on the Internet to gain consumer interest. Cross-device tracking is an essential tool. We realize the privacy implications and have strong policy and practices to safeguard the interests of our client partners. We also plan to stay abreast of policy discussions and participate in shaping industry practices. One of the core planks to privacy policy in respect to data usage. The salient points can be lost in the legalese so it is important to state in plain language that :

  • Infernotions’ business proposition comprises measurement and analytics. We are not a media or advertising company.
  • Digital fingerprints collected through our technology is not to be sold to media companies or to our client partners.
  • The data collected through our pixels is used exclusively for revenue attributionThese findings guide our clients on how they should spend their marketing budget (but not on whom).
  • To ensure compliance with best practices we periodically get third party audits of our policy, processes and technologies.

To learn more about our revenue attribution solution, its importance to retailers and our practices to safeguard the interests of our client partners, contact me via the link below.

schedule a free consultation


Leader image from GlynLowe used by permission under Creative Commons Attribution agreement.

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