What is Cross-Platform Advertising? Getting The Most Out of All Channels

With so many distractions bombarding consumers today, it can be tough to get their attention. Especially when you know you have a superior product, content or offer to share with them.

This is why it’s doubly important to be top-of-mind and present when they are ready to buy from you.

In this article, you’ll discover how to achieve this market omnipresence through cross-platform advertising. You’ll learn what it is, why it’s important based on the way consumers search for products and how to apply it to your paid media efforts.

What is Cross-Platform Advertising and Why is it Important?

As consumers switch between environments and devices, they expect a certain level of personalization in the advertising they see. Indeed, this means that your marketing should truly serve them in the first place.

To do this, you must be where your consumer is. This includes the channels they frequent, the devices they use and even the touch-points in “real-life” environments. The ways in which we can communicate are expanding, and with it brings more opportunity to your business, brand or agency.

Cross-platform advertising allows you to expand your message across several channels, and extend your reach to capture your customer’s attention. But equally important is getting your timing and targeting right. Without the right segmentation, you’ll end up wasting precious ad dollars by offering the wrong message – even if it is to the right person.

How Consumers Search for Products & Services

In short: the way consumers find and research products has dramatically changed, mainly thanks to the sheer amount of options available to them.

This also means that the customer journey is no longer linear (not that it ever really was). Sure, you can map out the funnel and create content that aligns with each stage. But ultimately, the consumer is in control of the journey.

Let’s say an individual is looking to learn about a better grooming routine and, after a quick Google search, they find the following article:

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In this article, they’re introduced to the idea of including a hair loss regimen into their routine – something they were aware of but hadn’t yet taken seriously:

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As this is something the consumer is aware of, they decide to take advantage of this additional information and learn more about the topic. The link included in the first article takes them to the following page:

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However, they’re not ready to invest in a product just yet. They want to learn more about their options, so they start researching. They use Google to search for queries such as:

  1. hair loss regimen
  2. best hair loss kit
  3. hims reviews

Traditionally, an SEM would look at these queries and see different commercial intent. It could be that the consumer is at the consideration stage based on the high commercial intent, but it’s also clear they’re learning about the science of hair loss, as well as what their options are.

During their research, they’ll come across articles like this one:

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As you can see, it has nothing to do with the hims brand. But it does serve the individual by providing them with more information. Meanwhile, the consumer is now moving on and getting on with their day-to-day life.

That evening, they start browsing Facebook and see the following promoted post:

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The GQ article talks more about hair loss treatments, including hims as a potential solution among some of their competitors. For someone still doing research, this is the perfect opportunity to learn more about their options.

After reading, the individual heads to the hims site directly and starts browsing. They check out the following pages:

  • The hims “How It Works” page
  • The reviews page
  • The hair loss product page (for the second time)

However, the consumer still doesn’t purchase. Over the course of several days, however, they begin seeing adverts across social media, such as this sponsored Instagram post:

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These touch-points across paid and organic channels achieve two things:

  1. They keep the hims brand top of mind; both when looking for the right information and while they’re browsing the web
  2. It offers different types of content based on search intent and behavior

This is what a strong cross-channel advertising initiative does. You can either push irrelevant ads, or you can use consumer and behavioral data to serve the right message and content at the right time. The latter is what hims has done, and is part of the reason they’ve built such a strong brand.

How to Use Cross-Channel Advertising + Remarketing

The challenge with the example above is knowing where consumers spend their time, and making sure you’re getting your message in front of them. How do you do this effectively?

Thankfully, remarketing makes this possible. For those new to remarketing, it’s a method of serving relevant ads to those who have already visited your website by applying a pixel into the code. This pixel then tracks the behavior of the user, along with the content they visit. You can then reach that user across the web through social media and display ads.

This approach serves consumers by giving them content and marketing they actually care about. It’s also beneficial to brands, as more personalized marketing leads to better results.

Here are a few examples of how to use remarketing to serve personalized advertising:

  1. Content a user has read/watched/listened to: Serve additional content around the topics they expressed an interest in. For example, if they read a blog post about “how to use machine learning in advertising,” serve them content around how other brands have used it to get results.
  2. Product pages a user has visited: If a user checks out your product pages, it’s likely they’re interested in buying. Start by serving ads that offer discounts, bundles etc. to entice them to buy.
  3. Email subscriber behavior: You can also personalize ads based on how they interact with your email marketing

Using remarketing to provide a cross-channel experience increases the likelihood of generating conversions. Why? Because consumers rarely make a purchase during their first visit. Therefore, cross-platform advertising must strive to build your brand and generate conversions.

Choosing a Cross-Channel Platform

To execute a cross-channel campaign, you could piece the data together yourself and upload it into each channel individually.

Or, you can use a platform that manages the entire process for you. The question is, what should you look for in a potential cross-channel vendor? At a minimum, you must be able to achieve the following

  • It must allow you to manage and serve ads across several channels. These include mobile, display, search, social and video
  • It must allow you to upload digital creative and assets
  • It must measure key metrics and provide ample reporting features. These metrics include conversions, reach and return on ad spend

On top of these crucial features, best-of-breed solutions will include the following capabilities:

  • Experimentation and A/B testing features across several channels
  • Dynamic campaigns based on your data and product inventory
  • Integrate with your CRM to accurately attribute your marketing spend
  • Machine learning capabilities that adjust elements such as bidding for improved results
  • Distribute budget across each channel to maximize return on ad spend (ROAS)

You can learn more about these capabilities over on the Acquisio website.

3 Examples of Cross-Channel Advertising in Action

Earlier in this article, we ran through a hypothetical example of cross-channel advertising in action.

To wrap things up, let’s take a look at three examples from successful brands that have nailed the omnichannel approach.

1. HubSpot

The masters of inbound marketing also happen to have a tight paid media game:

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In this example, it’s clear what HubSpot is selling and the benefits of getting started. In fact, the ease of getting set up with their CRM platform is what makes this so appealing to click in the first place.

Who would be seeing such an ad? Marketers, sales leaders or agencies who have already investigated or looked into the HubSpot CRM – either through their content or product pages. At this stage, it makes sense to serve product-relevant ads. Especially when there’s such a low barrier to entry.

2. Best Buy

This next example from Best Buy seems almost too simple at first glance:

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However, if this is being shown to someone who recently abandoned their shopping cart within the last few hours (or even minutes), then it’s all that’s needed.

Why does it work so well? Because the entire message is geared around getting the user to checkout. As it’s served so close to when the customer abandoned cart, they don’t need a reminder of what’s in there. If a certain time elapses, and the customer still hasn’t purchased, Best Buy can then serve product-related offers.

3. Booking.com

Finally, this example from Booking.com truly shows the power of dynamic advertising:

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The content of the ad is directly related to what the user searched for on the Booking.com platform. Not only that, but it creates scarcity while showing exactly how much the customer would save by booking now. Talk about hyper-personalization.


Customers now have full control over how they consume content, research solutions and buy products. And while it’s important to use the traditional marketing funnel as a model for creating the right message, don’t expect your customers to blindly follow it.

Instead, be where your customer is and serve them the content and marketing they care about. Provide credible answers to their questions when they need it, and engage with them on the platforms they’re most active on.


Featured image: via Unsplash / Giles Lambert

All screenshots taken by the author October 2019

Image 1, 2 and 4: via hims

Image 3: via Men’s Health

Image 5: via HubSpot

Image 6: via Best Buy

Image 7: via Booking.com

Tom Whatley

Tom Whatley

Tom Whatley is the founder of Grizzle, a content marketing agency that helps B2B, SaaS and tech companies generate more traffic and leads through high-value content and distribution.

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