04:47 PM

Google's Plan To Kill Cookies

Google proposes anonymous identifier for advertising, or AdID, to replace cookies used by third-party marketers. Google would benefit -- but would consumers?

Google Nexus 7, Chromecast: Visual Tour
Google Nexus 7, Chromecast: Visual Tour
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Google is floating a plan to cease tracking Internet users with cookies, which are bits of code stored in browsers that allow third-party advertising and marketing firms to track consumers' browsing habits.

Instead, Google is proposing a new system that would use an anonymous identifier for advertising -- or AdID -- to collect information on users, USA Today first reported. Advertisers and advertising networks that agreed to abide by Google's code of conduct -- which has yet to be detailed -- would then be given access to AdID. Theoretically, that code of conduct would enshrine some basic privacy protections for consumers, including the ability to opt out, or to assign different AdID policies to different sites, but any such details have yet to be released.

Asked to comment on the report, a Google spokeswoman emailed the following statement: "We believe that technological enhancements can improve users' security while ensuring the web remains economically viable. We and others have a number of concepts in this area, but they're all at very early stages."

[ Here's how Google is personalizing its answers to your questions: Google Search: 5 New Ways To Get More Personal. ]

Google reportedly plans to meet with consumer groups, government agencies, industry groups and anyone else with a stake in the $120 billion online-advertising industry, which Google dominates. In addition, according to Net Market Share, Google's Chrome browser also enjoys a 16% share of the browser market. Although less than IE (58%) and Firefox (19%), that still gives Google added leverage.

Advertisers, however, have responded in a lukewarm manner to Google's suggestion, because it would largely consolidate advertising power in the hands of Google, as well as Apple, which last year introduced a unique Apple Advertising Identifier for all iOS devices, together with prohibitions on developers or marketers using a device UDID to directly track users. "There could be concern in the industry about a system that shifts more of the benefits and control to operators like Google or Apple," eMarketer's Clark Fredricksen, who tracks the digital ad industry, told USA Today.

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David F. Carr
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/20/2013 | 1:55:15 PM
re: Google's Plan To Kill Cookies
I know they haven't released details, but any clue how this AdID code would be tracked, if not with a cookie? Would browsers have to build in support specific to tracking this other type of code?
Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Ninja
9/20/2013 | 2:02:39 PM
re: Google's Plan To Kill Cookies
Nice analysis - killing cookies only makes them 'not evil' if they don't replace with something equally snoopy. I'm somewhat surprised Chrome is only at 16% - doesn't seem like a half-baked idea like this is going to help that.
User Rank: Apprentice
9/23/2013 | 1:21:09 PM
re: Google's Plan To Kill Cookies
I agree that share looks low. However I recently read that one statistic group recently changed its methods. Among other things, they stopped counting page hits rendered in the background but never viewed (how they know that...I have no idea). They claim hits that are never viewed skew the numbers. I believe the article claimed Chrome leverages background page rendering more than other browsers and thus took the biggest negative hit.
User Rank: Apprentice
9/20/2013 | 4:22:03 PM
re: Google's Plan To Kill Cookies
If one wants to advertise on the web, one would have to play by the rules of a single corporation? Yeah...
User Rank: Apprentice
9/20/2013 | 9:19:46 PM
re: Google's Plan To Kill Cookies
While this seems like a potentially better way to deal with privacy issues, I wonder whether the advertising world will go along with letting Google create a new standard that inevitably will give Google an advantage in tracking online behavior.
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