Over half of online adspend will track users across devices by 2020

Cross-device audience ID matching, which can match online users across their smartphone, tablet and computers, is forecast to make up over half of UK online adspend by 2020.

Audience ID matching will be used in 58% of total UK online adspend by the end of the decade – up from 28% in 2016 – according to new figures from Yahoo and Enders Analysis.

The report, called "People, not devices: audience buying in a cross-device world", shows adspend based on audience IDs will almost triple in the next few years, reaching €7.9bn (£6.7bn) by 2020.

Although this growth will be slowed by the general data protection regulation coming into force next year, the report says growth will continue as the ad industry works to ensure compliance with the new regulations.

By 2020, the proportion of display adspend that uses audience IDs will be slightly higher than for paid search, accounting for 68% of display spend compared with 55% of paid search. The report says most of this growth will come from mobile display and mobile search growth. 

Audience IDs are the online identity profiles created from anonymous identifiers in order to recognise and match the same user across different channels, devices or both.

Trust in online advertising has been hit by recent controversies over Facebook’s measurability shortcomings and YouTube’s brand safety credentials. Yahoo said cross-device audience buying can help distinguish between real and fake ad views, and help test claims of ad effectiveness. 

Earlier this week Zenith reported that one-fifth of global media spend goes towards Facebook and Google. 

Nigel Clarkson, managing director, Yahoo UK, said:  "In a world where the number of connected devices per person is increasing at pace, cross-device campaigns should be the norm. 

"Yahoo is already enabling these kinds of campaign, with datasets across search, email and social that allow us to accurately match 89% of users across devices.

"This level of insight benefits consumers as well as brands and advertisers as it helps get the right message in front of the right audience, making it a win for all."

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