Mobile Cookies


As people increasingly use mobile devices to access the Internet, online privacy issues arise in new ways and some of the old problems arise in new forms. One of the factors that has limited behavioral targeting by businesses across web sites viewed on a standard mobile phone is the lack of a “cookie” that could be used to track the user across the sites they visit. One of the critical privacy issues for mobile marketers is give users control over cookies that track their online behavior . Managing tracking tools in a way that leaves users firmly in control is a must if mobile personalization is to succeed. If they go down the path of telling consumers “we will track you but trust us to do the right thing” but don’t give consumers control, the model will not work.

Now one company, Ringleader Digital, claims to have built an ad network enabling targeting using a cookie-like state identifier they call Media Stamp. Eager to learn about the choices and controls that such an ad network will provide for users, We navigated to the their site to find out something about the privacy options. How will users manage this mobile cookie? How can the tracking be turned on or off? Unfortunately the site doesn’t seem to have a privacy policy nor any other details that we could find. Not a good sign!

In some later press stories, we see Ringleader claiming that they do provide an opt-out. But if we can’t easily find it, how will the average user?

(By the ways, kudos to MediaPost’s Wendy Davis, one of the savviest reporters covering the online ad industry for immediately flagging the privacy problem the minute this mobile cookie was announced)