Ever since the rise of mobile devices as advertising platforms over the past five years, Google has had a bit of a problem on its hands. Instead of being able to rely on the old standard of cookies to track a web users surfing habits and usage history, they had to find a way to gain access to all this valuable information without making it look obvious to the passive observer while they tapped happily away in their apps.
See, unlike your standard browser, apps don’t collect usage information in the same way that advertisers have become accustomed to. Apps don’t leave behind cookies like web browsers do, and because of this unforeseen hiccup they’ve challenged themselves to come up with a new way to get our eyeballs to graze on their content for as long as we can reasonably put up with it.
That’s where services like AdMob and iAd rose to prominence, by helping advertisers reach users through their applications instead of just email or browsers. These background additions to some of your favorite time-wasters like Words With Friends and Farmville helped Zynga build a half-a-billion dollar empire, made almost exclusively out of info that was outright sold to government agencies and corporate retailers alike.
Just last week the NSA confessed they had been collecting sensitive data off cellphone towers in an effort to locate specific users they were either directly investigating or contributing information on for another department. It’s this same technology which enables companies like Drawbridge to track you without the use of standard ad-chucking methodology, and enables advertisers to know when you’re on a new device before you’ve even linked up old accounts from previous phones or tablets.
“We’re observing your behaviors and connecting your profile to mobile devices,” said Eric Rosenblum, CEO of Drawbridge. “But don’t call it tracking. Tracking is a bad word around these parts.”
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