Cross Device Tracking: Privacy Concerns?
For marketers it is useful to know this information, as they are able to attribute the value of their campaigns across different devices/channels. In order to know this information, you need to have access to certain data of course, and this is where privacy concerns come in.
There are different methods when it comes to cross device tracking. One of them is the deterministic approach. It relies on personally identifiable information. This is where users have to sign in into a platform like Google and Facebook, who have huge user bases. As long as the user stays logged in, they can track you and target you on multiple devices.
The other one, a less simpler method, is the probabilistic tracking method, which collects information like operating system, browser cookies, webpage visit and mobile device IDs to create a digital fingerprint which is then linked to a user’s device. Through algorithms and (statistical) analyses, they are able to create a (most likely) match between devices, which roughly said can lead to concluding that this smartphone and this tablet most likely belong to the same person.
The probabilistic method is invisible to consumers and they cannot control it, like they could with cookies. The marketing industry defends itself by saying it does not hold any personal data as they do not know any names or email addresses. All they have are those device profiles. It is not being used to identify an individual.
Personally, regardless of what information you collect from someone, an email address or a device type, I think it should still be viewed as personal data. A smartphone can also be considered as quite something personal nowadays. The Federal Trade Commission says cross device tracking is a sign of a post-cookie world and is even holding a workshop this November to explore the privacy issues and security risks.
First of all, I do understand the FTC and others, are concerned about privacy and they try to ensure that consumer’s privacy maintains protected. Privacy is a hot topic, it always will be. I also understand that there are people who are simply opposed to entities tracking them. But regardless of understanding their point of view, I personally don’t really see a (privacy) problem. Or maybe it is because I used to be an online marketer myself and I understand the value of this type of collected information and the insights it can provide marketers.
Besides that, we as consumers also benefit from cross device tracking, because things get more convenient, e.g. shopping on your smartphone first but then being able to finish the purchase on your computer at home. And for that, you have to give up some privacy. We live in a world where (online) privacy nowadays is hard to fully maintain. A possible solution is opting-out, or perhaps informing consumers the same way they are informed about cookie placements. But how will the transparency regarding data collection work out in the end? Any thoughts on this matter or the solution for it? Or perhaps you would like to share how you feel about these privacy concerns? 🙂
Linda Tram – 355313kt