While advertisers cannot use third-party cookies to track mobile users the same way they would a desktop user, cookies can indeed be applied to an extent in a mobile environment.
And while many vendors tout their cookie-replacement technologies, the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) senior director of mobile, Jon Laszlo, points out that cookie-replacement technologies are generally better suited to the mobile app space than they are making connections with the mobile Web. “I can’t point to any one solution that works equally well across both yet,” he said.
Device-recognition technology, for instance, is gaining popularity as a cookie alternative, yet it provides only an estimated match between devices and is not yet effective in matching users across mobile Web browsers and mobile apps.
This is why the IAB argued in a recent report that marketers should explore existing tracking options, even as they come up with cookie alternatives. “Marketers coming into the mobile world from the PC world were hearing contradictory statements about cookies,” Laszlo said. “Some mobile-native vendors have said that cookies don’t work in mobile, which doesn’t quite represent reality.
One possible solution is to use a hybrid between cookies and user login, such as what Twitter is attempting with its recently unveiled Tailored Audiences retargeting tool, which connects first-party cookies to a Twitter ID, allowing the brand to make cross-channel connections and send targeting messages.
Ultimately, while both cookies and their alternatives have limitations, marketers are doing themselves a disservice by not considering all their options.
“Marketers don’t care about the specific technology as long as they can verify their campaigns and see some accountability from the back end,” Laszlo said, “but they need to look at the whole picture.”
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