The consumer’s shopping trip may take her to her phone, tablet and computer. Understanding the role each device play is crucial in accurately planning marketing strategy.

For better or worse, #alternativefacts is one of the most popular hashtags thus far in 2017, a phrase that has already spawned a thousand memes. While we are certainly accustomed to hearing “alternative facts” in the form of spin on the Sunday political shows, this cultural moment is sparking an intense conversation about the nature of truth and the often-deleterious effect of opinions masquerading as facts.

While #alternativefacts might be a novel concept in our political discourse, marketers are used to dealing with them on a regular basis, even though they might not be aware of it. Nowhere are multiple, credible versions of the truth more prevalent than in the data created by today’s multi-device consumer activity.

Nowhere are multiple, credible versions of the truth more prevalent than in the data created by today’s multi-device consumer activity.

Perhaps you’re a consumer who is in the market for a new television because you’ve noticed a few dead pixels on the TV you’ve had for the last six years—not to mention the fact that the display is looking dull compared to the new 4K Ultra HD model that your neighbor just purchased. You start investigating options and prices online from your computer.

The next day, an electronics retailer serves you an ad on your phone while you’re deciding where to go to lunch. Later in the day you read some reviews and buying guides on your tablet while waiting for an appointment, and that retailer serves you a coupon for free shipping on the purchase of an Ultra HD TV.

Finally, after dinner and once the dishes are done, you sit down to watch TV, and your eyes are inevitably drawn again to those dead pixels. You immediately grab your smartphone and pull up the retailer who has been making you offers on a TV you’re considering. The coupon you saw on your tablet is right there for you to use. You pull the trigger and—voila! Your new TV will arrive in 2-3 business days.


In this scenario, the retailer successfully targeted this customer across multiple devices, and mobile gets credit for the sale. But what does your data tell you? Is your solution designed to let you follow the journey of a single customer moving among multiple devices, with each touchpoint enhancing the opportunity for conversion? Or does your technology present you with a disparate set of facts which, when viewed individually, do not tell you the whole story? Had the final purchase been on the desktop, you might even conclude that mobile played no meaningful role in the customer’s purchase journey. That would be an alternative fact and it would be wrong.

Knowing what’s really happening versus what you might conclude from disconnected data sets enables you to prioritize what is most important, especially in regards to resource allocation. If you highlight the wrong narrative from the data available, you’ll end up with a misallocation of spend. It’s critical to synthesize all data sources, to weed out the truth from a host of alternative facts. When every dollar counts, digital spend must be leveraged as accurately as possible.

Ultimately, in marketing as in life, the most effective and actionable information is not based on a host of conflicting alternative facts but rather the summary of the most accurate and up-to-date information available. The right cross-device technology, one that provides you proven reach, scale, accuracy and match rate, will enable you to see the entire chain of customer interaction, ensuring you can make the best decisions based on the truth—and as a well-known truth teller once said, “The truth shall set you free.”

Criteo specializes in digital performance marketing.