Pure Genius or Doomed to Fail? Adobe launches Co-op Cross-Device Tracking

Last week Adobe announced a new co-operative network for brands, providing them the ability to track consumers across 1.2 billion devices worldwide.

Adobe Marketing Cloud Device Co-op uses Adobe Analytics and the company’s Audience Manager data management platform.

Participating brands will be able to recognise consumers by their devices. With this information they will be able to deliver more personalised content and better targeted advertising, even as consumers switch from one device to another.


Adobe’s “Get Personal” report, published last week, clearly defines the problem that the Adobe Marketing Cloud Device Co-op seeks to solve.

Focusing on IP addresses and cookies, today’s digital marketing strategies have failed to achieve a personal connection with consumers, the company argues. Adobe’s research found that almost 90% of millennials switch devices when engaged in an online activity, while two-thirds (66%) of device owners are irritated when content is not synchronised across their devices.

Currently, Adobe says, only large brands like Google and Facebook are able to keep track of consumers as they move from one device to another. Both can do so because they have huge numbers of customers and devices logged in regularly, but they can only track within their walled gardens.

The Adobe Co-op will work with information provided by participating brand members to enable links between groups of devices used by anonymous users and households. This data will include cryptographically hashed login IDs and HTTP header data, which fully masks and protects a consumer’s identity.

Adobe then processes this data to create groups of devices (“device clusters”) used by an unknown person or household, sharing information about these clusters across its marketing solutions.

Why should you care?

While Adobe’s ambitious plan to improve cross-device tracking is conceptually interesting, we foresee many a potential pothole on the path from last week’s interesting product announcement to final release.

Adobe has established rules for participation that include allowing consumers to opt out either individual devices or all of their devices. Brands are not allowed to swap targeting segments or user-level data, and will only get quality data from the Co-op if they, in turn, provide quality data.

But what passes for adequate privacy protection in the United States, may not in other markets.

And the success of any co-operative venture is dependant on the number of participants and their level of commitment to the venture’s success. Yet, while Adobe’s customers include the likes of Disney, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, the Co-op is still in private beta and Adobe has not revealed which brands are involved.

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About the Author Jeremy Templer

Jeremy is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire. Jeremy has been working in search since 1996, when he joined the Australian search engine, LookSmart. After relocating to San Francisco, he was instrumental in the development of the company’s paid search ad platform. At analytics company Coremetrics (now owned by IBM) he established an in-house search agency managing campaigns for Coremetrics clients such as Macy’s, Bass Pro and Lands End. At Acxiom he managed members of the pioneering SEO firm Marketleap and worked with clients such as Capital One, American General Finance and Kaiser Health. Joining SureFire in 2009, he is the head of Paid Search Advertising and oversees the delivery of AdWords and other PPC campaigns. He also helps clients make sense of their website data.