Just last month, sources claimed that Google was working on an anonymous identifier for advertising (AdID) that will replace third-party cookies. This AdID would be transmitted to advertisers and ad networks only if they have agreed to basic guidelines, giving consumers more control over their privacy and how they browse the Internet. Microsoft, it seems, wants to bake its own batch of tracking technology too.
Sources told AdAge that the Redmond company is internally developing technology to enable tracking across Windows-based smartphones, tablets and desktops. This tech would also be used on the Xbox consoles, within Internet Explorer and the Bing search engine. Microsoft is reportedly in the early planning stages, and so far the Xbox One seems to be on the end of Microsoft's rollout list.
"We agree that going beyond the cookie is important. Our priority will be to find ways to do this that respect the interests of consumers," a Microsoft spokesperson told AdAge in an email.
Currently, there's little information regarding Microsoft's supposed tracking technology. AdAge believes the company's cookie replacement will be a device identifier, and enabled when a user agrees to a device's terms of service or user agreement. In turn, this method would place all collected user data in Microsoft's hands rather than the countless third parties that currently troll web browser habits.
AdAge provides a possible scenario, describing an Xbox owner opening the Vevo app and viewing a restaurant's advertisement video. Vevo could then load up a banner for the same restaurant when the customer opens the Vevo app on a Surface tablet, and even add the banner in the Windows Phone app to drive that customer's business to the restaurant.
Advertisers have reportedly pressured tech companies to move beyond cookies for years because the aging tech can't bridge desktop and mobile devices. Thus advertisers have no way of knowing if a banner run in a desktop browser led to a purchase of the product through the user's phone or tablet. Microsoft's supposed tracking tech would make this connection possible.
"Not only would [Microsoft] be building out an ad ID, but they would also be building out a cross-channel attribution model, which everybody wants," said The Media Kitchen president Barry Lowenthal.
Currently, Facebook can track users across the Internet thanks to its universal login tools. Apple introduced its own Identifier for Advertising (IDFA) tracking system in iOS 6, and has blocked tracking cookies by default in Safari for a number of years.