Apple and Mozilla: A Cause for Celebration

AdTruth logoEditor’s note: Today’s guest post comes from James Lamberti, vice president and general manager of AdTruth (he was formally of mobile ad network InMobi and ComScore), a technology that enables audience identification through anonymous device recognition. In this post, Lamberti discusses why Apple and Mozilla making the decision to block and reject cookie tracking is a good thing.

You can bet that privacy advocates across the digital industry were celebrating recently. In response to Mozilla’s intent to block all third-party cookies by default and Apple’s decision to reject apps that use cookie-tracking, digital advertisers are wondering what this disruptive news means and how they should respond.

If anything, these changes should be applauded. While this news may come as a surprise to marketers and digital advertisers, it should be seen as an opportunity for the industry to address a problem that’s been an issue for years. The audience-identification options are limited; but this is a critical function that marketers depend on every day.

With cookies quickly falling by the wayside, the industry needs an alternative that is universal in nature, functions across all devices, on all operating systems and across every use case including desktop, mobile and apps. Apple’s push toward identifier for advertising (IFA) is a step in the right direction but is limited to iOS devices and doesn’t support all use cases.

Second, a universal alternative needs be based on the concept of privacy by design. This means privacy has been factored in from the beginning, not added as an afterthought. It also means providing the flexibility to recognize and respect privacy protection mechanisms, such as online behavioral advertising (OBA) and Do Not Track.

While keeping privacy in mind, a solution must also be effective. Performance and longevity are of great value to marketers and must reach an acceptable rate for a solution to even be considered. The key is for advertisers to understand and recognize their audiences well enough to provide relevant content: no more and no less.

And finally, with the number of mobile users and devices in world, we need a solution that has the ability to scale. Digital marketing is delivered and measured in billions of impressions and fractions of seconds. If this speed and scale can’t be supported the approach isn’t going to be adopted.

The news from Apple and Mozilla has caused many in the ecosystem to wonder how they will continue to reach customers in a time of diminishing options. They shouldn’t worry. As the ‘deterministic’ cookie approach continues to fade out, there is an opportunity for a more ‘probabilistic’ approach – one that meets the criteria outlined above – to be adopted. Don’t fret; it’s time to thank Apple and Mozilla for helping reframe the audience identification conversation.