Mobile Cookies: ‘Yes,’ Says Verizon – With No Opt-out
Marketers are worried that the lack of cookies—or pixel-firing Web tracking mechanisms about customer activities on sites—will make targeting and retargeting particularly difficult on mobile devices. However, Verizon's "unique customer codes" can track users across browsers and via apps, even when they've opted out of cookies, reports The New York Times.
"While Internet users can choose to delete their regular cookies, Verizon Wireless users cannot delete the company's so-called supercookies," write Natasha Singer and Brian X. Chen on Sunday.
Third parties are even picking up Verizon's codes and using them to track users with targeted ads, according to a very detailed blog post by Jonathan Mayer on Jan. 14. (One such company, Turn, says it will suspend the practice when it finds a better alternative, according to the Times article. Turn, however, may not have the same problem on Google, which is planning to do away with tracking pixels from many third parties on its display network at the end of March, according to Digiday.)
AT&T also piloted a supercookie ad targeting option for marketers last year, but pulled back when customers complained, says Glenn Lurie, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility in a Dec. 26 interview with the Times. In that same interview, Lurie hints that marketers may soon have a different mobile ad option.
Meanwhile, Verizon persists.
"A Verizon service called Relevant Mobile Advertising, for instance," write Singer and Chen, "combines details obtained from information resellers like Acxiom and Experian with the wireless carrier's own data to classify its mobile subscribers by gender, income, interests or other criteria; the company allows its subscribers to opt out of receiving ads customized through this program. Another service, called Verizon Selects—which consumers can opt in to in exchange for reward points—segments subscribers based on their Web browsing and use of apps."