Google may follow Apple, ditch ‘cookies’ as online ad tracker

“Google, the world’s largest Internet search company, is considering a major change in how online browsing activity is tracked, a move that could shake up the $120 billion digital advertising industry,” Alistair Barr reports for USA Today.

“Google, which accounts for about a third of worldwide online ad revenue, is developing an anonymous identifier for advertising, or AdID, that would replace third-party cookies as the way advertisers track people’s Internet browsing activity for marketing purposes, according to a person familiar with the plan,” Barr reports. “The AdID would be transmitted to advertisers and ad networks that have agreed to basic guidelines, giving consumers more privacy and control over how they browse the Web, the person said, on condition of anonymity.”

Barr reports, “Apple’s Safari browser has blocked third-party cookies since its introduction in 2003, and the technology giant introduced its own ad identifiers for its iOS mobile platform last year. If Google follows through with its own version of this approach, that could give users more control over how they are tracked online. However, it will also put more power in the hands of two of the largest technology companies, according to some people in the advertising industry. ‘There could be concern in the industry about a system that shifts more of the benefits and control to operators like Google or Apple,’ said Clark Fredricksen of eMarketer, which tracks the digital ad industry.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Brawndo Drinker” and “Rainy Day” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple App Store rejecting iOS apps using cookie-tracking methods – February 25, 2013
Apple’s iOS 6 delivers new tracking technology for advertisers; users have option to disable – October 11, 2012
Apps not using UDID data getting 24% lower ad prices – April 25, 2012
Amid privacy concerns, Apple has started rejecting apps that access UDIDs – March 25, 2012
Cookies and privacy, Google and Safari – February 25, 2012
Google sued by Apple Safari-user for bypassing browser privacy – February 21, 2012
Google responds to Microsoft over privacy issues, calls IE’s cookie policy ‘widely non-operational’ – February 21, 2012
Google’s tracking of Safari users could prompt FTC investigation – February 18, 2012
WSJ: Google tracked iPhone, iPad users, bypassing Apple’s Safari browser privacy settings; Microsoft denounces – February 17, 2012
Apple: App access to contact data will require explicit user approval – February 15, 2012
Apple makes big change to iOS 5: Phasing out developer access to UDID – August 20, 2011


  1. Looks like Google’s Injun CEO Sunbath Spicy Curry is trying to copy yet another thing Apple customers has had for years on Safari.. This must have been the discussion in the boardroom: “Oh My Vishnu! Many Android people’s are moving to iPhone, because of privacy fears! Lets copy Safari and see how that works out!”

    1. This has nothing to do with “copying Safari”. It’s just that Safari took the high road 10 years ago with regards to third-party cookies, and Google has relied on those for tracking visitors for advertising purposes. Now Google is considering a different approach that doesn’t rely on cookies. This is actually an interesting announcement. It’s one thing for Apple to control how information shared to advertisers on Apple’s own platform, but it’s something entirely different if Google does that for the open web. That potentially puts Google in a position of a lot more control.

    1. Yup. Just too bad that their search engine is still better than the rest. Even though I’ve configured all of my browsers to use alternate search engines by default, I still find myself manually going to Google because I trust the results.

      1. Really? Try going to Google and searching for “AAPL”. Note the “news” articles that are displayed on that page. Then go to Yahoo and search for “AAPL”. Compare the “news” articles on both search results. You will find that your trust in Google’s results is perhaps a bit misplaced.

          1. The attached “news” articles at Google are invariably negative about Apple. Roughly 90% are written by people for whom english is a second language. The arguments presented are disingenuous and just plain lies. Citing articles from sources like Value Walk, Potential Trader, and Insider Monkey instead of credible news sources (as Yahoo does) is just plain dishonest.

            1. I’m not seeing the bias pattern.

              Google’s AAPL news
              (Negative) Apple Inc. (AAPL) iOS 7 Battery Issues? Try These Tips
              (Positive) The Four Ways Apple’s Top Execs Just Blasted Android (AAPL, GOOG)
              (Positive) AAPL: BTIG Sees 6M iPhone 5S, 5C First-Weekend Sales

              Yahoo’s AAPL news
              (Mixed) AAPL: iPhone Weekend May be Lower, Says BMO; Probably Higher, Says RBC
              (Positive) Icahn: Market is fully valued, but Apple is a buy
              (Negative) Pandora Investors Listen to iTunes Radio, Buy More Pandora Shares, Set Record High

              Also, it’s well known that Google doesn’t personally pick search results, they use algorithms designed to be unbiased. It would be very significant if Google decided to change that. They would lose a lot business right away if they did, not because of partisan outrage, but because having any preconceived bias would make their search results significantly less accurate.

            2. The Google and Yahoo AAPL pages are two of the places I have visited almost daily for many years. You need to sample them for more than just a day. How is it that 3/4 of the articles linked on Google’s page are typically from Value Walk, Insider Monkey, Potential Trader, or similar sites? These “news” sources are short on grammar and syntax, routinely regurgitate anti-Apple FUD, promote Android, and generally sound like their articles were written by high school students. Contrast that with Yahoo, which usually cites reasonably credible sources like Market Watch and CBS. How can the difference be explained except that it is by design and intentional? Here’s a listing from the NASDAQ:AAPL result at Google:


              Apple Inc. (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook Isn’t Interested In Junk
              ValueWalk – 9 hours ago

              Apple Inc. (AAPL) Gold A Bust As iPhone 5S Sale Launches In Australia
              ValueWalk – 7 hours ago

              Apple Inc. (AAPL) CEO Cook Talks About The Danger Of Becoming Nokia
              ValueWalk – 11 hours ago

              Apple Inc. (AAPL) Stocks to Gain Momentum After September 2013?
              International Business Times AU – 17 hours ago

              Apple Inc. (AAPL) Released iTunes 11.1 With iTunes Radio
              ValueWalk – Sep 19, 2013

              Google Hires Apple Inc. (AAPL) Chairman For The New Health Venture
              ValueWalk – 11 hours ago

              Five out of six articles are by ValueWalk. According to one, the gold color is apparently a failure, and in another Apple fears becoming another Nokia.

              At the Yahoo result, we see articles by WSJ, Fortune, and Motley Fool:

              [$$] Apple Begins Selling New iPhones at The Wall Street Journal Thu 9:04PM EDT

              Google’s Best Opportunity to Disrupt Apple Starts Now at Motley Fool Thu 9:02PM EDT

              4 Tech Stock Stories Getting Thursday Traction at Wall St.
              Cheat Sheet Thu 8:49PM EDT

              Why Network TV Apps Fail at Motley Fool Thu 8:36PM EDT

              Publicity comes free to Apple. Why is Tim Cook chasing it now? at Fortune Thu 8:36PM EDT

              Could This iOS 7 Feature Be a Pandora Killer? at Motley Fool Thu 8:04PM EDT

    2. Actually Google fulfills an important task. Without them the anti-trust lawyers would be sharpening up their knives even faster. Google helps keep them at bay. Let there forever be one company for the tech-savvy and one for the not-so-tech-savvy.

  2. I personally want to know exactly how this ‘AdID’ is going to be associated with a user on the net. It sounds like just a repurposed cookie so far.

    Theoretically, on the net we continually shed enough data for marketing surveillance freaks to ID us as we travel around from server to server. The concept is called ‘The Ever Cookie’, despite it not necessarily having anything to do with actual browser cookies. There are some measures to take to stop this phenomenon and thwart the ad surveillance freaks. But the steps required to flying way over the heads of the world’s grannies and computer lusers.

    IOW: Ad surveillance freaks will find a way, if only due to computer user ignorance of the net surveillance methods.

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