1. What is a Mobile Device ID?

Learn the facts about the device-ID advantage.

An important first step in any brand’s mobile campaign is to identify the mobile devices that are in use and willing to receive marketing messaging. It’s a crucial nugget of information known as the mobile device identification (mobile device ID).

TechTarget defines the mobile device ID as “a distinctive number associated with a smartphone or similar handheld device.” It is not to be confused with the device’s model number or serial number. As the mobile device ID is unique to each device, there is variation in how manufacturers represent this number and enable user access to it. There are two major types of mobile device IDs:

  • Identifier For Advertising (IDFA)­ for iOS devices: Apple codes the device IDs as a 40-digit sequence of letters and numbers. Apple customers may receive their mobile device ID numbers through iTunes or the Apple App Store. Before the rollout of iOS 6, this kind of device ID was called a Unique Device Identifier (UDID).
  • Google Advertising ID (AAID) for Android devices: These mobile device IDs are randomly generated during the first activation of a mobile device and remain permanent for the lifetime of the device unless there is a factory reset. Users access their Android IDs via an app on Google Play.

Mobile Device ID Advantages

A mobile device tends to have a one-to-one relationship with its owner. This means mobile brands can gather more specific, individualized information from the device ID, including location data. As Diane Harding writes in ExchangeWire, “Knowing that Mom goes shopping Wednesday nights gives brands the opportunity to offer coupons or other offers at exactly the moment she’s most likely to respond.” Conversely, web cookies on a desktop computer are more prone to pick up ambiguous data because of the potential for multiple users on the machine. Although tablet devices often have multiple owners, it is possible to set unique device IDs for customers on those devices.

With mobile device IDs at their disposal, brands are able to tailor ads relevant to their customers’ interests and retail habits. In-app ads are the preferred platform for marketers. Device IDs can be tracked inside apps, providing opt-in based insights about user preferences — all of this leading to a higher level of personalization and a better overall user experience. Better experiences mean increased rates of retention, all of this augmented by increasingly contextualized mobile creative.

There is also a reduced risk of ad fraud with mobile device IDs since it is an opt-in process and offers verification of a real individual using the device.

Knowing the customer starts with knowing the device ID. Clearly, mobile device IDs are a necessary ingredient for brands to deliver an effectively targeted mobile campaign and strengthen their relationship with customers – but it’s just the beginning. Keep reading our Verve 101 series where we’ll familiarize you with all the terminology of the mobile marketing industry.

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