Gartner: Cross-Device ID Dilemma Is Hindering Great Experiences

“If maturity was a scale of 1 to 10, I would say, on average, most marketers are at a three,” said Kirsten Newbold-Knipp, a research director at Gartner, who will co-present the keynote at next month’s Gartner Digital Marketing Conference.

Gartner: Cross-Device ID Dilemma Is Hindering Great Experiences

Multidevice content consumption is chief among the many trends marketers must be on top of today. That’s according to Kirsten Newbold-Knipp, a research director at Gartner, where she covers topics such as digital marketing strategy, trends, and practices with an emphasis on digital commerce, content marketing, and marketing management.

Newbold-Knipp will co-present the keynote at the Gartner Digital Marketing Conference, May 17-19 in San Diego. She will talk about the future of marketing as it relates to three technologies: augmented reality, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things. She’ll also present sessions about lifetime value and balancing marketing best practices against short-term and long-term goals. (Click here for more information about the event, for which is a media partner.)

We recently caught up with Newbold-Knipp to get her take on some of the trends she’s seeing in her various areas of expertise. What are some of the most important consumer trends that marketers need to be paying attention to and why?

Newbold-Knipp: The trend that I think is most important right now is, first and foremost, the cross-device behavior that we exhibit. This morning I ran to a new CrossFit place. On my walk back, I used my mobile phone to look at a bunch of things, and I saw tickets to an event that I was interested in. I didn’t want to transact right then and there, so when I got home, I went to my computer, was able to pick up where I left off on my phone, and sent the event info over to my friend. We’ve been emailing back and forth about whether we should go to this event. That’s all in a normal day.

My expectations are that I am going to have a consistent experience, consistent pricing, the ability to see the seats in a consistent way, and the ability to have that brand know who I am and know my preferences. If I log in with Facebook, they really understand that Kirsten not only checked out the event on this device and that device, she’s gotten this seamless experience across the board. I think that is certainly one major trend that no one is ignoring and that we are all talking about.

That’s a huge challenge for marketers: how to identify people across devices to deliver a great, consistent experience. I hear marketers talking a lot about cross-device identification. Where would you say marketers are in really figuring that out?

Newbold-Knipp: If maturity was a scale of 1 to 10, I would say, on average, most marketers are at a three. There are a few brands out there who have developed strategies with login experiences across multiple devices, and I think we are seeing that done well with the entertainment companies. Amazon, Netflix, Apple, they know who I am when I log onto each of my devices because it is inherent to their business model. They’ve built streaming applications where I recognize I need to log in to tell them what I want to see because I subscribe. So there are brands who have an advantage in that they have built their business in a way that allows cross-device identification.

Other types of businesses, like restaurants, even retail brands may not have a loyalty app providing them explicit visibility across devices. Most of those brands know there’s a problem and that there is a way to do cross-device identification. They are starting to purchase third-party data or partnering with other brands in data co-ops, but they don’t have the answer yet. In many cases, unfortunately, they don’t even have the data infrastructure in place yet to execute on personalized marketing should they get devices ID’d to particular clients. It’s still early days for most brands — there’s a lot of work to be done. You’ll be speaking about virtual reality (VR) and other emerging technologies at next month’s Gartner event. What are some of the key trends in that regard? What can we expect over the next 12 to 18 months?

Newbold-Knipp: Virtual reality is interesting because it has been a hot topic for multiple little spurts. We saw virtual worlds like Second Life with brands such as Wells Fargo doing Stagecoach Island (right), years ago. Today, VR is bubbling up again as an interesting topic, and that’s because other technologies, such as mobile devices, access to Oculus Rift, and Google Cardboard, have started to evolve quickly. New technology advancements are bringing the possibility of virtual reality into a space where consumers could afford to have a device to consume 3D content. It’s starting to get interesting and to show up on people’s radars again.

From a brand perspective, VR is a cautious experiment. We see brands that are testing out a lot of different things, but most often it’s a campaign-centric test. Something like what Ocean Spray last year did with their Greatest Harvest videos (left) that showcased how you actually go to a cranberry bog and how the process works to create Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice. They provided a 3D experience that is very immersive.

This year South by Southwest was a stream of all sorts of VR experiences. McDonald’s had capability to be inside a Happy Meal; NASA actually had a really cool experience where you feel transported to Mars, exploring where scenes like those we saw in the movie the Martian might have taken place. These sorts of campaign experiences are interesting pops or flashes, but the more valuable VR examples are more consistent, long-term use cases.

I’ll share two examples I think are worthwhile. One is for commercial kitchen company Turbo Chef. They help commercial kitchen designers figure out how a particular oven fits inside their design. How will the oven doors open? Will it work when the chef’s walking by? This is a very expensive piece of equipment, and the ability to visualize that in a 3D context can really help you make a competent decision. You’ll also be talking about creativity in marketing at the Gartner event. Creativity in marketing isn’t something new. I mean, the whole notion of “the big idea” was built on creativity. So why is creativity all of a sudden making a comeback?

Newbold-Knipp: I don’t think that creativity went away. I actually do think that it’s a different lens on the discussion. As we get more access to data, there are people who would like to believe that everything is empirical and that you can make all the decisions with a test. The reality is, you can’t.

Human empathy cannot currently be replaced by artificial intelligence. That’s not to say that we won’t be there 50 years from. But that’s not the place we are today. The creativity-vs-data debate is really about using human intuition to balance out those things we can test empirically. That hypothesis you proposed in the first place, that you want to test, often comes from creative discussions about problems that you want to solve. And someone has to still prioritize. Brands can’t empirically determine which of 10 paths is going to be the best across all parameters, including their culture, priorities, and potential transactional outcomes. Some of that relies on intuition, empathy, human understanding, and the creativity of how you are going to execute something.

I think it’s less about creativity making a comeback and more about how creativity can be augmented by the data and artificial intelligence that we can harness today.

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