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Google Introducing a Universal Ad Tracker?

Great Googlie Mooglie! An article in USA Today suggests that Google might “ditch cookies as online ad tracker.” Citing an anonymous source, Alistair Barr says that Google plans to develop

an anonymous identifier for advertising, or AdID, that would replace third-party cookies as the way advertisers track people’s internet browsing activity for marketing purposes…The AdID would be transmitted to advertisers and ad networks that have agreed to basic guidelines, giving consumers more privacy and control over how they browse the Web…

The author goes on to speculate that this might be in response to privacy concerns of users, but also that it might effectively give Google control over what advertisers can and cannot see.

He says: “Advertisers will get access to these AdIDs, as long as they adhere to the terms of the program. However, users may be able to change the list of approved advertisers, through controls in the browser, to exclude specific firms, the person [anonymous source] added.”

Powerful though Google is, they don’t have the power to “deprecate cookies” or force advertisers to abandon cookies. There would have to be an incentive for advertisers to use these AdIDs instead of or in addition to other cookies.

Perhaps this is a defensive move, aimed at creating a tracking mechanism that would meet a higher standard of scrutiny from Govt. regulators world-wide concerned about user privacy, as a hedge against a wide-spread ban on cookie technology that really did blind advertisers to the efficacy of ads. The EU has written such rules but I haven’t heard of any real effort to enforce them.

Another more aggressive interpretation would be: creation of a universal tracking system that would allow participating advertisers more information about the user’s behavior with other advertiser’s ads. That would allow for more refined targeting options improving ad ROI and ultimately ad spend.

Note: I’ve had no conversations with Google on this topic, so I am really speculating here.

What do you think?

Comments
2 Responses to “Google Introducing a Universal Ad Tracker?”
  1. Kayla says:

    I would not be surprised if this was a reality next year. Looking at the direction Universal Analytics has taken us, it seems only obvious that we move to a user ID system instead of cookies as the next step.

  2. Interesting perspective, Kayla. Thanks for your input!