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The Big Story: Cleaning Up Fingerprinting

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One of ad tech’s neat little tricks for identifying people isn’t third-party cookies; it’s fingerprinting.

Browsers have universally come out against the practice. From Firefox to Apple to Chrome, each browser is coming up with ways to smudge the user-agent string (Chrome) or offer a fingerprinting-proof mode (Firefox). And Android is coming up with its own Privacy Sandbox to prevent SDKs from extracting user-identifying information.

Meanwhile, the practice persists in ad tech. Often presented as a “probabilistic” identifier, fingerprinting continues to be used to triangulate identity, even if ad tech companies aren’t shouting from the rooftops about it.

In this week’s episode, we talk about the changing perception of fingerprinting, as well as the challenges of reducing the fingerprinting “surface” without impacting the user experience.

2023’s relatively rosy outlook

Then, despite inflation and economic uncertainty and alarm bells like layoffs across digital media and Big Tech, advertising will continue to grow in 2023, according to GroupM and Magna.

Both companies revised their growth estimates downward, but they still expect advertising to grow in 2023. The durability of digital advertising is not without its nuances. Some channels have particularly rosy outlooks (like connected TV and retail media), while others have comparatively glum outlooks (looking at you, print and linear TV).

Globally, factors like the war in Ukraine and China’s zero-COVID policy (which was eased as we recorded the episode) will create variations in the year ahead. But go ahead, celebrate to this toast from GroupM’s global director of business intelligence, Kate Scott-Dawkins: She’s calling for “conservative optimism.”

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