Understanding “Mobile Cookies”


Understanding Mobile Cookies

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It is a common misconception that cookies don’t work on mobile devices. It is not that mobile cookies don’t work, it simply means cookie tracking on mobile devices can only work in specific situations, but other tracking methods are needed to more reliably track ad campaigns across environments. Most mobile web browsers accept first-party cookies (explained in our previous blog post), while different mobile browsers can choose whether to accept third party cookies. Now with Google’s announcement that it would be phasing out its Chrome browser support for third-party cookies in 2022, it adds additional challenges to track mobile cookies.

On the other hand, mobile apps have their “sandbox” environment and use a technology referred as “webview” to show online content, whether it’s a website or an ad in a mobile application. Cookies can be stored within a webview similar to the way they are stored in a browser setting. However, any given webview and, consequently the cookies stored in it is unique per application. Therefore mobile apps cannot share cookie information with other applications or with the device’s mobile and web browser.  

So what is the industry working on to overcome the gap left by cookies. In February 2020, the International Advertising Bureau (IAB) introduced a new initiative entitled Project Rearc (i.e., Project Re-architecture). The aim is to satisfy the needs of addressable advertising and to work across different browsers while meeting the requirements of various privacy regulations. As we can see. a long term solution is needed to find a balance between user privacy and the relevance of ads as well as the sustainability of the adtech industry. 

Meanwhile, there are a few alternative tracking methods we could consider or use a combination of them to fill the mobile cookies gap. 

Email or phone number: Use a user’s encrypted email or phone number as an identifier. This “identifier” would then be passed through the standard programmatic supply chain: publisher to SSP to DSP to marketer. However, this form of solution would require publishers to create registration walls for users to access their ad-monetized content and may not facilitate the tracking of users across sites. It enables companies with this type of universal login to gather data across applications and devices. 

Client/Device Generated Identifier: A device identifier (ID) set and/or made available by the operating system. Examples include: Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), Google’s Android_ID, Universal Device ID (UDID) and MAC Address. Users may or may not be able to control or change a device-generated identifier. 

Statistical ID: A server-side algorithm for identifying a device or user based on the values of a combination of standard attributes passed by the device. Typical device attributes include: device type, operating system, user-agent, fonts, and IP address. Those attributes change over time due to device changes or updates. 

HTML5 Cookie Tracking: Involves storing a cookie-like file in HTML5 local storage on the device. These are similar to traditional cookies, but can only be set or retrieved when the browser is open and running. 

With partnerships with multiple data vendors, AppMonet is dedicated to fight ad fraud and uphold ourselves to the highest standards of data integrity and privacy so that we can not only help apps monetize but also give advertisers peace of mind that their content are always served to the right audience at the right time. 

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