Mobile Phones - Advertising and Tracking You

Mobile Phones - Advertising and Tracking You

We're not sure where you stand on privacy issues in the consumer advertising space, but we're okay with ads popping up and telling us things they think they want us to know. Then again, we're in the advertising business. But now things are changing in the mobile advertising and tracking space.

But even so, we don't think our privacy is being all that violated and we don't even see any dangers in letting the world know what we're doing. Again, we're boring advertising people who see what our colleagues are doing and don't feel threatened by them.

In any case, the latest news in the connection between mobile phones and advertising is quite interesting. In fact, it's quite spectacular from a technology standpoint.

Tracking people on their smartphones and delivering individual, hyper-targeted ads is the next nirvana. As we mentioned in a previous post, the current use of cookies to track people is on the its way out. Most browsers now block them and most people hate eating them. But in the new mobile world where we all like to download apps, cookies don't attach to these programs nor do they really work on mobile browsers.

Due to this issue the Interactive Advertising Bureau started a group to explore the future of the cookie and its alternatives. According to the New York Times, the IAB called the current online advertising situation "a lose-lose-lose situation for advertisers, consumers, publishers and platforms."

And without sophisticated tracking on mobile devices, running mobile ads is also like throwing money out the window. Up to now, advertisers have had no way to know if an ad they placed on a phone resulted in a visit to a Web site on a computer. And they have been unable to connect user profiles across devices as users jump from the mobile Web to apps, even though all these apps already collect data on us.

But now new services are popping up which can resolve this tracking issue. A company like Drawbridge uses sophisticated algorithms to sort of triangulate the issue. There service is best described in the following example from the NYT's: If someone regularly checks a news app on a phone in bed each morning, browses the same news site from a laptop in the kitchen, visits from that laptop at an office an hour later and returns that night on a tablet in the same home, Drawbridge concludes that those devices belong to the same person. And if that person shopped for airline tickets at work, Drawbridge could show that person an airline ad on the tablet that evening.

Cool, right? We think so. But if you don't like it then the only thing to do is not go online anymore because all those apps you use on your smartphone are well ahead of you - and so far it's all legal.

 

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