Digital devices connected 24/7 have made us multi-taskers, but multi-screeners as well as we jump from one screen to another for work and leisure.

According to The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) UK, the average UK home now has 8.3 connected devices. The ownership of smart TV is growing at the fastest rate (27 per cent), followed by smartphones, laptops and tablets. The Internet of Things (IoT) will bring further connected gadgets. McKinsey forecasts that by 2020 there will be between 20 billion and 30 billion devices hooked up to the internet.

These devices will increasingly generate vast amounts of data. Cisco estimates that the total volume of data generated by IoT will hit a staggering 600 zettabytes (ZB) per year by 2020. Little surprise that 22 per cent of total business workloads will be made up of database, analytics and IoT data.

Consumers have become adept at switching between devices to connect and get the information they want. Multi-screens may be convenient for users, but they are bringing multiple challenges for marketing teams. To be successful, companies must be able to deliver the right message to the right device at the right time to get the user’s attention – or the moment is lost.

Multi-screen marketing provides an unprecedented opportunity for companies to connect with their target audience and grow brand awareness and loyalty. But to do this they need to be able to track the user across multiple screens. Big players are well aware of the importance of ensuring a smooth user experience from one device to another.

Speaking at Mobile World Congress 2017, Reed Hastings, co-founder of Netflix, said that in 10 to 20 years’ time he expects all viewing to be done over the Internet. The company is investing heavily in codecs to ensure users get an instant experience, regardless of the device or screen size.

A multi-screen future for all

The key to multi-screen advertising is research. But, people no longer consume media in a predictable way, which makes it a bigger challenge. Qualia Media, which provides consumer insight to enterprises in a number of markets, from automotive to beauty, recognised the power of multi-screening as soon as the trend hit – but also saw that success was dependent on providing a coherent journey across devices.

The company knew that to leap frog the competition it needed a powerful platform that would quickly and easily map big data connections across devices and make the links between them to help marketers optimise their advertising budgets.

When Qualia was first set up seven years ago, it analysed public declarations of locations on social media. But mobile usage has grown dramatically year on year, with consumers using more devices and performing different actions on each. Qualia recognised that its platform was out-of-date and was not optimised to recognize consumer actions across multi-screens. The company needed to be able to capture data from multiple devices and associate it with an individual user to provide actionable knowledge. Viewing an advert on more than one device, for example, can give certain consumers a more positive impression of a brand.

The big problem, however, was that this data was continually moving and changing. This was primarily the result of users frequently purchasing new devices and clearing out the cookies from their browsers, making them hard to track.

The influence of graphs

Qualia looked at the directional flow of data and the relationship between devices, cookies and users and realised that its data model was graph-like. This was difficult to chart in a traditional relational database, slowing the whole process down and making it unwieldy.

After looking at market options and running various tests, Qualia decided a graph database was the right tool for the purpose. The Qualia team now relies on over one terabyte of data in the graph database, Neo4j, and nine billion relationships, combined with larger amounts of non-graph data to provide its multinational clients with consumer intelligence to form the basis of advertising and marketing campaigns. Graph technology has shown it is the only solution powerful enough to query relationships in the big data fields that Qualia works in.

Understanding how much time consumers spend on which screen is key in creating a media plan for the digital world we live in today. Qualia’s big data, cross-device insight enables marketers to deliver consistent, creative, integrated marketing campaigns that engage and influence consumers.

Qualia clients now have a panoramic view of their customers, their entry point all the way through to conversion on specific devices. This makes it easier to measure the effectiveness of advertising in its outreach to different devices.

Graph technology has allowed Qualia to deep dive into multi-screen analytics to get a better picture of how users hop from one device to another. This data is proving invaluable to Qualia’s client base, enabling them to put the consumer at the centre of their marketing and advertising strategies.

Emil Eifrem

Emil Eifrem


Emil Eifrem, CEO, Neo4j