Blog Post

Using Desktop and Mobile Digital Advertising for Cross-Device Success

06/24/2021 - Liz Cerrone

The number of mobile users engaging with brands continues to skyrocket, year after year. In 2020 alone, a 53% majority of shopping traffic came from mobile devices.

At the same time, no marketer should jump to write off desktop’s moment as being over. Considering all global e-commerce revenue as a whole, 56% of it came from desktop users who lean into the increased visual real estate, higher screen resolution, and more convenient navigation experience.

Many brands have already centered their advertising around desktop and now find themselves needing to add depth to their mobile digital advertising in order to get current with the times. This trend is being actively encouraged by major players like Google, who ha implemented mobile-first indexing and other pushes that prioritize a quick, well-designed mobile experience.

Below, we will highlight desktop advertising, mobile digital advertising, and cross-device advertising, as well as some actions you can take now to optimize your brand’s presence on each of these channels. Through our recommendations, we strive to highlight the advantages of desktop versus mobile, and what sorts of special measures you can test on each.

Every industry is different, and so everything from the exact audience breakdown by channel through the specific features to test will vary. Given that your brand likely wants to occupy a unique niche that differentiates it from competitors, and given how quickly digital marketing performance evolves, it is best to conduct strategic testing for your business. Remember, your priorities for testing and even the amount of resource spend you allocate towards testing can—and should—evolve with your business’ needs and resources, as well as any data findings you collect.

Mobile Digital Advertising: The Wunderkind

Market research across all industries continues to show that mobile digital advertising is where the most sharing happens. As a result, competition tends to focus on how each individual brand can include as close to perfectly curated or tailored content directly to users right when they engage with the brand.

There are features built into mobile that make it easier to achieve the delivery of such tailored content to captive audiences. Take, for example, the location services that most people enable on their mobile devices. With this functionality present, it is easier to implement geographic targeting that serves up customized results that are relevant to where an individual user is located. If “local” is in any way relevant to your business’ offerings, building out or souping up any associated pages and content around locations is one relatively simple way to boost your mobile presence.

Mobile advertising also shows distinct strengths for video advertising. Whereas on desktop, videos are often watched in windows alongside other tasks, on mobile the focus tends to be entirely on the media being played. Full attention allows for messaging to better reach consumers, and may make them feel more confident in their assessment of a brand and its products or services. Both this confidence as well as the particular convenience in sharing things via mobile makes it a particularly attractive advertising platform. Much of this convenience comes from how various social media platforms have designed very robust experiences on mobile apps.

Optimizing pages to load quickly and faithfully—for a seamless viewing and navigation experience—is another way to boost your mobile digital advertising. You can increase everything from visibility in search through user conversions, simply by providing a smoother user experience across mobile devices.

Desktop Experience: The OG of Digital Advertising

The desktop experience allows perhaps the most room for A/B testing, given the visual real estate at your—and your audience’s—disposal. You have the broadest range of options to test different versions of all of your site’s elements. You can test what headlines resonate best with your visitors, and then even carry this testing over into paid search or social media for further refinements. You also need to test how you broadcast this headline, including the imagery you choose to associate with it as well as generally defining what is “above the fold” on your site—which is usually first done on desktop, and then adapted to ensure it works on mobile as well.

CTAs represent a huge yet often overlooked opportunity for testing. Everything from the wording on the CTAs through the color chosen, the placement throughout pages and so forth is worth deliberate consideration. All of this testing should shed light on the needs of your target audience, and what resonates best with them.

Even if they have spent time researching and exploring brands on their mobile devices, many consumers prefer to complete their purchase on their desktop device. For some, desktop is simply what they are most comfortable with; for others, desktop offers a less cramped visual experience.

Cross-Device Success: The Holy Grail

Successful brand advertising across both desktop and mobile devices—also known as cross-device marketing—is widely considered to be best practice. Even users that tend to favor one platform over the other will still engage with both, and multiple studies have continued to show that repeated brand exposure across multiple settings drives successful messaging and, ultimately, conversions.

While it may sound straightforward, many businesses stop short of the most fundamental “first step” in cross-device success: knowing where their potential customers live. Most businesses are sitting on data, even just within their Google Analytics dashboard (no fancy apps or other tools required). What devices do users use? More importantly, how does the device breakdown vary with the different pages that users engage with? You are likely already examining the steps involved in your funnel. What pages—and user devices—are tied to each step in the funnel?

Even if you are strapped for resources, these insights can help you ensure that you are investing resources into creating better user experiences for the content, channels, and devices that your visitors are actually engaging with. Don’t spend your time preparing for possible audiences until you have devoted a significant amount of time optimizing for the audiences you do have.

Take this a step further and use heat mapping to see how users engage with elements on pages, and understand where there is room for improvement. For example, are visitors looking to click somewhere on a page where they currently cannot? If you place an important link there, you can drive traffic to your money pages. Is there critical content belonging to your brand that is currently going unseen? Once you learn about it, you find places to feature it more prominently.

You may also choose different directions for content development. Video is trendy even in SEO, but if a meaningful number of your site visitors are on mobile, now might be the time to invest more in creating meaningful video content. For desktop users, build a navigation scheme that makes sense; you can keep money pages top-of-mind for mobile users, but desktop users—with the monitor real estate to explore a bit more—could be nudged along a deeper dive into your products and services.

For every optimization idea you have, be sure to test it across both desktop and mobile experiences. We touched upon this when covering desktop advertising: while changes may be easier to test on desktop (as well as paid search and social), any selected changes should be fit for both.


Every advertiser wants to know which particular channel will be the golden ticket cure-all that their brand can ride to maximum success. The reality is that there is no single channel that guarantees success. Cross-device success requires that advertisers master both desktop and mobile advertising in ways that meet the precise needs of their target audience.

Partner with Digilant for Cross-Device Wins

If you are looking to win at omnichannel marketing, Digilant is the partner to choose. We think beyond just specific channels and in terms of the holistic brand experience. Work with us to learn what boundless advertising success across all devices really feels like.

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