USA Today is reporting that Google is looking to upend the way the industry tracks online activity for advertising purposes.
According to the newspaper, a source at Google says the company is developing an AdID, an anonymous identifier that would replace the third-party cookie as the industry’s primary tool for tracking browsing activity and gathering information about user interests for ad targeting. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Google has not made the plans public, told USA Today:
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.
Apparently, Google plans to connect with industry and consumer groups and government entities to discuss the proposal in the coming months. The company may be met with its share of skepticism. Clark Fredricksen of digital advertising reporting firm, eMarketer, told USA Today, “There could be concern in the industry about a system that shifts more of the benefits and control to operators like Google or Apple.”
Furthermore, Mike Zaneis, general counsel for the Interactive Advertising Bureau, says of having a few corporate behemoths control advertising identifiers, “They could deprecate the use of that ID on a whim basically, and severely undermine billions of dollars in digital ad spending.”
Advertisers will need to adhere to Google’s terms of the program to get access to AdIDs. The source did say the tool will give users the ability to control ad tracking through browser settings and that users may be able exclude specific companies from the list of approved advertisers through the browser controls.
Google has declined to comment on the matter.