This post is by Richard Hocking, EMEA Director of Performance Marketing & Mobile Development at Starcom MediaVest Group.

With the increased emergence of new technology within the household, UK homes now possess on average 10 connectable devices, as a result cross screen planning, activation and tracking has quickly become a necessity for agencies and brands.

However, stitching together the customer journey across smartphone, tablet and desktop, each with their own tracking nuances, is no easy job. Historically the key method of tracking users online has been via the cookie – which functions across desktop, but is relatively useless across mobile devices; both mobile applications and Apple's Safari browser are cookieless environments.

Tracking in mobile is made easier with a device ID, a persistent identifier across a phone or tablet's applications. However even when tracking a user in silos, desktop, tablet and mobile devices need to be connected to one user. Recently though, more and more technology partners are making headway into tackling this challenge.

2014 has seen a wealth of cross device opportunities come to the market in the UK, and with it more jargon to cut through. In simplistic terms cross device technology relies upon three tracking methodologies to tie one user to multiple devices:

Householding – Where different devices can be seen on one IP range and is combined with home data, behaviour and more, they can be inferred as the same user.

Probabilistic Tracking – Analyses device attributes including cookie, device ID, time stamp, browsing patterns and location data to make a prediction about users. Up to 85% accuracy in tracking users across devices.

Deterministic Tracking – Occurs when publishers and platforms require users to sign in to use services on every device. Up to 95% accuracy in tracking users across devices.

Despite m-commerce rapidly growing (£14bn in 2014 – a 65% growth according to emarketer), for many consumers the smartphone remains a research device as users browse products on the move, or whilst second screening at home. However this doesn't always result in a direct conversion as they switch to a desktop or tablet to carry out the final transaction.

This is where probabilistic partners, including Drawbridge, Adbrain or TapAd, or deterministic partners, using login data, like Facebook's recently updated Atlas platform, empower brands to better understand their cross device investment.

At Starcom Mediavest Group, the application of consumer's cross screen behaviours flows through all of the work that comes out of the agency. To truly paint a picture of the role that each device is playing on the path to conversion, the use of this type of technology is pivotal.

One such example is MediaVest's client Travelodge, who like many other brands in the travel sector has increasingly seen cross device behaviour from customers, but struggled to capitalise on this commercially. Mobile made up almost 50% of all traffic but conversions were low which led to a view that much of these interactions ultimately converted on desktop.

MediaVest opted to work with Drawbridge to deliver Travelodge mobile display activity in order to use their cross device technology to anonymously pair multiple devices to one user. This then allowed Travelodge desktop bookings to be attributed back to mobile impressions by using proprietary device pairing technology. In doing so, MediaVest were able to deliver a cross device ROI from mobile spend, to conversions delivered on desktop.

The insights delivered, truly highlighted the value in mobile investment for the brand, as well as the insight that can be gathered from cross device attribution. Mobile to desktop conversion rates were 5% stronger than standard desktop conversion rates seen across other prospecting partners. The cross device campaign activation has allowed Travelodge and MediaVest to highlight the role of mobile display in accelerating the path to desktop conversion and, due to cost efficient mobile programmatic buying, a 31% lower CPA.

80% of desktop conversions tracked from a mobile impression came within 48 hours of exposure, a 10% improvement on pure desktop activity.

The campaign highlighted that those users who saw a mobile ad converted quicker than those users exposed to a desktop ad. 7% more conversions were attributed within 48 hours of mobile exposure compared to desktop activity. Mobile display also helped to deliver a 5% stronger conversion rate when studying mobile to desktop, compared to desktop alone.

With 2015 set to provide a wealth of additional opportunities in this space, mobile will continue to be the connective tissue between both digital channels and traditional channels such as Press, TV and Out Of Home (OOH), however Insights like the Travelodge example also show how cross device activation can amplify a brands performance further.