Digital creative agency
Recently I’ve while visiting a family member; I wanted to show my cousin this cool new drone video I’ve seen on Youtube a couple of days before. Oddly, all the ads I’ve been exposed to while searching and eventually showing the video were related to purchasing drones that have a GoPro camera attached to them or some sort of fixture to support the camera.
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Then my cousin laughed and said- funny! I just bought a GoPro today, and probably did some web searches for reviews and price comparison from the same house yesterday.
I’m interested in drones, my cousin in GoPro cameras; did some get confused on the advertising side?
The answer is: that is seems like it, you see- my cousin was searching from his mobile phone and laptop, and I was searching from my laptop (completely different brand and technical specifications), and while ad campaign management systems trying to assume that both of us might be the same person as our location is approximately the same and we are using (most of the times) the same IP address (when not using 3g/4g on the cellphone).
The platform did 1+1, assumed that we (or ‘the user’) will be probably be interested in a combination of two of the products he was searching for.
Pretty close guess, but still not 100%. Most likely I will buy a drone soon, but not opt in for the pricey GoPro camera, and my cousin bought his camera for documenting his daily life and with no urgent need for a drone to carry that camera following him around.
This instance shows just a tip of a huge challenge the online advertising industry is facing in the last couple of years, and will face in the near future as well. The ability to track users across several devices.
You wake up; you check your favorite website on your phone, and then read the news on your tablet while the TV is on in the background providing a nice ad-themed soundtrack for your morning coffee.
At work you use a completely different device, your work computer, to search for that new golf club you wanted (on your break of course), then you go back home, and while passing a huge billboard giving an extra month if you sign up for a membership TODAY for your favorite, yes- you guessed right , Golf Club.
Letting all this sink in on your trafficky commute home, you decide to make the but, you get home jump on your wife’s tablet (because the battery on yours is dead) and sign up! (and not forgetting to buy your new golf club to show off).
1 day – 6 devices and medias that you were exposed to and used as tools to make your purchase, how is it even possible for a marketer to point and say – ‘I knew it was you the whole time, and targeted you specifically based on your interests.
Well, this is the problem the giants of Ad-Tech working days and night to solve. Back in the days all you needed as a marketer was your ad/site to drop a ‘cookie’ which is a small text file that saves a tiny (but sufficient) data on the information the user was exposed to, and allows them to retarget users, and learn about user habits and demographics to be able to provide better ad experiences in the future.
Changing multiple devices in a matter of hours, by the same user- and adding the fact that a lot of devices are now blocking cookies by default, cause a huge headache and drop of accuracy = drop of revenue for marketers.
And while companies are utilizing their best minds to come up with the next ‘cross channel tracking standard” they have to keep in mind rising privacy concerns by the general population.
Technology firms like Apple, noticed this pain point a while ago and started by phasing out the UDID which allowed marketers to detect and track a specific device by a unique serial number that was assigned to it in the factory.
A concern that hackers will be able to use these identifiers to make a connection between a device and a users’ personal data made Apple take the decision of completely removing it from its offering.
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Some of these solutions include approaches such as ‘device fingerprinting” which use the below to create a unique set of identifiers to help target a user accurately as possible:
- Device Manufacturer
- Device model
- Installed Operating System
- Installed browser
And basically any publicly available detail that is gather-able by the user agent or simple tests to try and profile a user.
Although this approach will never be 100% accurate, in the interim it will provide somewhat of re targeting ability (the more criteria the marketer can collect – the more accurate the profiling will be).
That said, concerns arise on users turning their backs on the marketers/brand and the government and decide to use tools and techniques to become almost completely anonymous and non-traceable, because of recent privacy concerns that were raised due to misuse of users personal information by the above.
The cookie as we know it lost its thrown as the might tool to track behavior, but it’s too early to see it completely crumble. At this fast paced industry what works today can be disrupted in a tomorrow and the saga can start all over again.