WTF is cross-device tracking?

As Stephanie Bauer Marshall, marketing director at Verizon, succinctly put it during the “mobile first” M1 Summit on Tuesday, the mobile ad ecosystem is in “chaos.” Cross-device tracking — also known as cross-device targeting — aims to make sense of that chaos for brands, publishers and platforms. Here, we try to make sense of cross-device tracking.

What is cross-device tracking?
Cross-device tracking describes the myriad ways platforms, publishers and ad tech companies try to identify Internet users across smartphones, tablets and desktop computers. The goal of cross-device tracking is to be able to know that the person using smartphone X is the same person who uses tablet Y and laptop Z, and then allow brands to retarget that person accordingly.