“Specifically, in Windows 8.1 we include a unique identifier that can be used to improve the quality and relevance of advertisements displayed within Windows Store apps while providing other services such as analytics and app-discovery,” wrote Microsoft corporate VP and chief evangelist Steve Guggenheimer in a blog post.
The advertising ID will be available in software development kits (SDKs) for Microsoft Advertising’s Visual Studio 2013 GA; MediaBrix, a mobile ad-targeting firm that delivers brand messages to game players at high points in a game; and mobile ad network LeadBolt’s mobile app platform.
The advertising ID and SDKs will allow app developers and advertisers to receive more insight into which of their apps a customer installs on the mobile device, serve relevant ads without relying on personally identifiable information and do frequency capping, according to Microsoft.
In addition, Microsoft is introducing more flexible onboarding policies for third-party ads for Windows Store apps, enabling SDKs to “choose and serve the best paying ads from a broad range of ad networks. This will help to improve the ad fill rate by giving app builders a larger inventory of ads to display,” Guggenheimer said.
The update applies to Windows Store apps running on Windows 8 or those updated to Windows 8.1. Consumers who do not want to be tracked can also turn off the advertising ID, Guggenheimer added.
Microsoft has been under pressure to capture the interest of app developers. Microsoft has more than 160,000 apps in its Windows Phone Store, while Apple and Google each have more than 1 million apps in their respective stores. Apple has also taken aim at Microsoft Office by offering free apps in its latest desktop computer and mobile devices.
Additionally, Microsoft’s unique identifier for ads comes more than a year after Apple unveiled its Identifier for Advertising (IDFA) for iOS6, which replaced the unique device identifier (UDID).
Microsoft is also reportedly developing a device identifier that would enable tracking across desktop computers, tablets and smartphones and replace third-party cookies, according to Ad Age. It is unclear when Microsoft will launch its cross-device identifier, but it could potentially combine the technology with the Ad ID and boost its ad-tracking capabilities.
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