To date, Facebook has had one huge advantage over Google: all Facebook users are logged in when they use the platform. That means Facebook knows who you are, no matter what device you are using.
Very few other networks have both the scale of Facebook, and this unique advantage. Google and other networks who have the scale, but not 100% logged in users, are only able to cookie (and therefore recognize) users at the device level. That means they don’t know you’re the same person when you switch from mobile to desktop to tablet or vice versa.
In order to retarget you on all devices, they have to have you cookied on all devices, and in addition, they have no way of knowing how many retargeting ads you’ve seen on the various devices (ie. no impression capping, or ceasing to show ads on one device when you complete a conversion event on another).
But Google is not completely down and out in this game, due to their users who do login when using services like Gmail and Youtube – Gmail alone has over 1 billion users, for example.
They are beginning to leverage this data more as we are increasingly in a cross-device world (specifically, more of a mobile world).
Until fairly recently, Google was known to be restrictive (relatively speaking) with the ways in which marketers could tap its signed-in user data for anything more than measurement. That has changed over the past year as the company has followed Facebook’s lead in leveraging user data for ad targeting.
The world of advertising continues to become more complex, and exciting!
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