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What Is Cross-Device Identity Data?

Successful businesses survive by providing personalized service, right from initial contact. However, with customers cycling through different devices throughout the day and new marketing channels and media outlets opening up every day, businesses cannot consider single devices separately from their user. Cross-device identity data identifies individual users across devices with the help of IDs and cross-device graphs.

Where Does Cross-Device Identity Data Come From?

The two main ways through which cross-device tracking is conducted are deterministic and probabilistic tracking. Deterministic tracking uses personally identifiable information (known as PII) like Facebook profiles and email addresses to connect devices. Meanwhile, probabilistic tracking uses clues gleaned from millions of anonymous data points to connect devices. Examples of these anonymous data points include Wi-Fi networks, screen resolution, and operating systems.

What Types of Columns/Attributes Should I Expect When Working with This Data?

Cross-device data normally contains attributes like email, phone numbers, account usernames, and physical addresses. It also contains IP addresses, online cookies, and device IDs. Essentially, this data covers anything that can link a device to its user.

What Is This Data Used For?

Companies use cross-device identity data to recognize customers across the range of internet-connected devices that they use. The companies then combine this with behavior, preferences, demographics, and other information for marketing purposes—and not just for targeted ads. Global frequency management, for example, uses cross-device identity data to ensure that customers do not receive the same messages and ads on too many platforms as that can annoy and alienate them.

Additionally, you can use this data for sequential messaging and customer journey modeling. Or put another way, you can send different messages to a single customer through different devices, creating a targeted narrative.

How Should I Test the Quality of Cross-Device Identity Data?

First, you should collect high-quality cross-device identity data from multiple sources, as this diversity guarantees more accurate information. You should also request vendors provide sample datasets for you to test for accuracy, update frequency, and scale of information.

What Are the Most Important Factors I Should Vet When Selecting This Data?

As with many data categories, cross-device identity data is collected from many different sources. This in turn makes quality assessment difficult. However, vendors that offer quality data, like the ones on our site, present the data in clear and comprehensive datasets. They should also provide previous customer referrals and sample sets for testing.

Finally, to ensure you know that the vendor uses appropriate sources and data collection methods. This is the best way to ensure you receive reliable data.

Interesting Case Studies and Blogs to Look Into

What Is Cross-Device Identification and How Can Marketers Use It?
Best Practices In Cross-Device And Cross-Channel Identity Measurement
Cross-Device Identity: A Data Scientist Speaks

Tangible Examples of Impact

“Companies know that consumers don’t interact with their brand in a linear fashion—their customer journeys are often muddied between channels—and devices. In fact, the average consumer owns 4 connected devices and uses 3 of these devices to achieve a single objective, spending an average of 60 hours per week interacting with content.”

R2Integrated: What You Need to Know about Cross Device Identification

“Matching consumers across devices and platforms is currently top of mind with US marketers. As early as in a 2015 survey, nearly 70% of US digital marketers and media practitioners cited cross-device audience recognition as a topic that would command most of their attention in 2016.”


“Retargeting has been a breakout tactic since marketing made the shift from traditional trial and error programs to real-time programmatic campaigns. With retargeting, marketers could directly target the most promising individual consumers. It introduced a simple, practical way to put programmatic ambitions and valuable customer intent data into action, and drove clearly measurable ROI.”

IAB: A close look at retargeting and the programmatic marketer

“Tapad, a global leader in digital identity resolution, today announced a new partnership with Retargetly, a leading independent full stack data company. The partnership combines Tapad’s cross-device identity resolution technology with Retargetly’s robust data toolset, allowing brands and agencies using Retargetly’s platform to seamlessly access an expanded audience across devices, without compromising precision.”

Tapad: Tapad and Retargetly Partnership Extends Identity Resolution on a Global Scale

Relevant datasets

Data Refinery Analyze and transform your data


Analyze and transform your data allows you to interactively discover, cleanse, and transform your data with over 100 built-in operations.

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Data Refinery Profile and visualize data


Profile and visualize data allows you to understand the quality and distribution of your data using dozens of built-in charts, graphs, and statistics.

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Cuebiq Audience Targeting


Audience Targeting sharpens your marketing strategies and reduce ad waste.

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