Skip to content

Cross Device Tracking – Probabilistic versus deterministic matching

Consumers have more devices and switch between these screens when making a purchase more frequently than ever before. To accurately report what channel and device a sale closed on we need to be able to track online purchase journeys that occur on multiple devices. Probabilistic and deterministic matching are two different ways to pair a user with their digital devices and track online purchase behaviour.

Deterministic matching

This type of tracking uses first party data to match a user with their devices (typically login data). For example, when a user logs into a publisher or advertiser website with different devices it is clear that those devices belong to the same user. Deterministic matching does not use algorithms based on probability to pair a user with devices, it requires a definite link between a user and a device.

Advantages and disadvantages

The advantage of this type of tracking is that it is very accurate. It is more precise than probabilistic tracking because a match is only made when there is a definite link between a user and a device. The disadvantage of deterministic matching is that it requires a large reach to gather enough connections to be effective. Tradedoubler’s network of over 180,000 publishers and 2,000 advertisers allows it to achieve this reach. By harnessing the power of its vast network, Tradedoubler is able to deliver the accuracy offered by deterministic matching at scale.

Probabilistic matching

Many tech companies have opted for probabilistic matching, because they do not have the data available to be able to pair users and devices through deterministic matching. Probabilistic matching collects numerous data points about each device and uses complex algorithms to identify probable connections. Relying heavily on probability, this matching technique is an inexact science.

Advantages and disadvantages

Probabilistic matching can provide greater reach than deterministic matching as it does not rely on users performing any actions (i.e. logging in on a device). However, it relies on algorithms and probability, which makes it less accurate that deterministic matching. Accuracy rates can vary from as little as 60% to 90%.

Why Tradedoubler is using deterministic matching

Accuracy is key and deterministic matching is far more precise than probabilistic. Due to its large reach of 180,000 publishers and 2,000 advertisers worldwide, Tradedoubler’s extensive network facilities deterministic matching at scale.