Ad Servers: Addressing Digital Media Tracking Challenges


The ability to measure performance in digital marketing has increased the effectiveness of media, but as the landscape changes, the need for supplemental tracking solutions is on the rise.

Tracking and analytics are the foundation of a successful media campaign. What good is it to have a really smart strategy and solid execution if you are not able to understand how it performed holistically, much less tie it to measurable business results?

Digital marketing has long been praised for its measurability, with cookies making this possible. However, with an estimated 64% of cookies now being rejected by web browsers, marketers need to implement supplemental tracking solutions to continue to measure media’s effectiveness. Ensuring that all ads across channels and properties are tracked by a unified source (such as an ad server) is going to give the most impactful and actionable insights into how media is performing.

As time spent with mobile apps continues to grow, and most users are exposed to digital media on more than one device, marketers must work harder than ever to build that single source of truth.

There are many players in the ad server space, but Google dominates. That said, it’s certainly worth evaluating the competition in terms of tracking technologies and approach to transparency. Other providers have strong offerings in cross device measurement and device fingerprinting technologies, both at rates that are very competitive in the marketplace.

As custom attribution solutions gain in popularity, be sure to consider if the methodology includes device fingerprinting and cross device tracking technology. Incorporating more sophisticated tracking like this into unified consumer data can result in a 10-20%+ lift in attributed conversions. This translates to a more accurate view of media performance, allowing for smarter optimizations that, ultimately, drive stronger business results.

Components of a Successful Tracking Strategy

  •  Device fingerprinting technology allows marketers to track a user on a single device, even if they are moving between a mobile app and a mobile browser. This solution helps address areas where cookies are not effective.
  • Cross device mapping allows advertisers to tie together a user on multiple device types like desktop and mobile. Together with device fingerprinting, this provides a robust and unified view of the effectiveness and cohesiveness of a media buy.
  • Taking it a step further, consider adding causal attribution as another layer and addressing the question of “would that consumer have purchased anyway?” Causal attribution assigns fractional credit to media touchpoints based on their impact on an incremental conversion. This gives buyers and traders insight into optimizing towards incremental conversions, which is a powerful resource for prospecting and awareness campaigns.
  • Finally, it’s crucial for marketers to understand user behavior on brand websites, making site-side tracking and analytics extremely important. If media isn’t performing well, knowing where and how users are dropping off in the purchase process can help to diagnose and solve the problem.

Marketers should take the time to develop and implement a sound tracking architecture to ensure that digital ads are trackable and reportable. As a first step, unify media data by partnering with a third-party ad server to track all ad delivery, inventory quality, online conversion metrics, post-ad exposure and consumer behavior. Then, ideally, layer in more sophisticated tracking technologies, such as device fingerprinting and cross device tracking, to achieve unified consumer data. Finally, add custom attribution and website tracking to round it out. Paired with an analytical marketing team, these steps will yield actionable insights that fuel data-driven decisions and business growth.

About Ideas Made Measurable!

At IMM, creating action isn’t just what we do — it’s who we are. Our agency is built to deliver full service capabilities while also delivering measurable results. Big data is the marketing buzzword everyone talks about but few understand. We are here to explain in plain English how data-driven, bottoms-up marketing strategies can help generate leads, drive sales and build your brand. We leverage the expertise of the staff at IMM, a data-driven, full-service digital advertising agency based in Boulder, Colorado.

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