Cookies – the kind websites place on your digital devices – not the kind you eat, help companies with targeting and tracking.
But, with users blocking them or cleaning them frequently, companies may be turning to digital “fingerprinting”, writes Adam Tanner, on Forbes:
This technique allows a web site to look at the characteristics of a computer such as what plugins and software you have installed, the size of the screen, the time zone, fonts and other features of any particular machine. These form a unique signature just like random skin patterns on a finger. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has found that 94% of browsers that use Flash or Java – which enable key features in Internet browsing – had unique identities.
Fingerprinting may prove a more robust tracking technology than cookies because the user’s identify endures even if they erase their cookies. Making changes to your software and settings only makes you more identifiable, not less. An EFF study several years ago found that it is easy to track when someone changes their profiles by adding software updates, for example.
He goes on to bemoan this latest development.
But why? If users want to consume online content for free or do other online things, again, at no cost, why bemoan giving marketers the ability to show you relevant ads? As I’ve said before, if I’m going to be seeing Ads anyway, I would much rather see Ads and/or offers that are timely and relevant. In fact, isn’t that what’s good about being online? When I see a glossy ad in a print magazine for something I will never, in a thousand years use, I might just admire the stock of the paper and/or the photography and move on. But if I see an Ad online for an OLED TV I just spent an hour researching, both I, and the advertiser, come out ahead, don’t we?
And then he goes on to mention a company called AdStack that uses this technology to great effect (picture above from their website):
They have developed a technology that allows firms to send an email but deliver the content only when a user opens it, giving the sender a chance to change the message in a few milliseconds. The email is sort of like a picture frame, with the content delivered interactively much as a webpage. They aim to deliver a personalized message at the right time.
For example, if you open a restaurant promotion in the morning it might advertise a lunch special, or later in the day, dinner. And perhaps they know you like sushi rather than steak. A flower store might advertise different specials depending on their inventory at the time a person opens their email.
Again, timely + relevant > irrelevant and dated, so…