Why Cross-Device Marketers Need to Consider 2 Mobile Audiences

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As people move between devices throughout their day, cross-device conversions are increasingly common. With more than 40 percent of online adults often starting an activity on one device only to finish it on another, Facebook’s cross-device reporting has enabled advertisers to better understand mobile’s role in the conversion process.

According to a Facebook analysis of cross-device conversions, of the people who showed interest in a mobile ad before converting, over 32 percent converted on desktop within 28 days.

Similarly, our recent analysis of campaigns rolled out by a Fortune 100 financial services company in collaboration with its merchant partners points to the positive impact of mobile impressions on desktop conversions. Among those who converted within 28 days of viewing an ad in the campaign:

  • 75 percent of those first exposed to the ad on mobile converted on desktop vs. 25 percent who converted on mobile
  • 95 percent of those first exposed to the ad on desktop converted on desktop vs. 5 percent who converted on mobile

However, Facebook mobile advertising may be even more effective than is currently known or widely understood by brand advertisers.

Most advertisers look only at blended mobile data to inform their campaign strategy – not accounting for how many of their consumers, including those who convert, may be among the more than half a billion Facebook users who only visit the platform on mobile.

Our analysis of mobile vs. desktop audience conversions shows there are two unique mobile consumer audiences who behave in distinct ways:

  • Mobile-first users: those who are exposed to ads on mobile and primarily convert on mobile
  • Desktop-first users: those who are exposed to ads on mobile and primarily convert on desktop

As part of the campaign noted above, we created unique audience segments for another of the financial services company’s merchant partners that either targeted desktop operating system (OS) audience clusters or excluded them. The logic being that those not in a desktop OS cluster are mobile-first users, with the rest being desktop-first users.

Among those who were first exposed to the ad on mobile and later converted:

  • 86 percent of those in our mobile-first segment converted on mobile vs. 14 percent who converted on desktop
  • 70 percent of those in our desktop-first segment converted on desktop vs. 30 percent who converted on mobile

Note: Mobile-first vs. desktop-first segmentation is not 100 percent accurate at this time. We believe up to 10 percent of those in the desktop-first group may in fact be mobile-first users.


  • There are unique behavioral differences among those users who fall under the broad umbrella of ‘mobile’ and ultimately, their path to conversion is not the same. Advertisers should be considering two distinct mobile audiences (mobile-first and desktop-first users) when planning their digital strategy, in addition to desktop-only users.
  • Advertisers have an opportunity to gain efficiency by buying mobile inventory. It’s in greater supply and has a positive influence on desktop conversions. If sequential messaging starts on mobile, a follow up should be served on desktop.

James Donner is director of ad insights at SocialCode.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.