Dubbed the ‘supercookie,’ the way Verizon tracks its users’ behavior is “enabled by default” on phones, according to an article published Thursday in Marketing Land that interpreted ProPublica’s reporting.
“The practical impact of this Verizon-AOL data transfer will be the ability to match online and offline user behavior for what is probably unprecedented Facebook-like ad targeting and analytics capabilities,” Marketing Land writes. “App usage behavior is apparently also part of the tracking. Other carriers, such as AT&T and Vodafone, have reportedly also experimented with similar supercookie tracking for mobile ad targeting.”
“AOL’s ad network will be able to match millions of Internet users to their real-world details gathered by Verizon, including — ‘your gender, age range and interests,’ ” according to ProPublica. “AOL’s network is on 40 percent of websites, including on ProPublica. AOL will also be able to use data from Verizon’s identifier to track the apps that mobile users open, what sites they visit, and for how long.”
Verizon’s announcement about this program is written as though it’s speaking to its customers.
“The Relevant Mobile Advertising program uses your postal and email addresses, certain information about your Verizon products and services (such as device type), and information we obtain from other companies (such as gender, age range, and interests),” reads the notice. “The separate Verizon Selects program uses this same information, plus additional information about your use of Verizon services including: mobile Web browsing, app and feature usage and location of your device. The AOL Advertising Network uses information collected when you use AOL services and visit third-party websites where AOL provides advertising services (such as Web browsing, app usage and location), as well as information that AOL obtains from third-party partners and advertisers.”
Related story: Mobile Cookies: ‘Yes,’ Says Verizon – With No Opt-out