Microsoft Joins the Anti-Cookie Movement, Working On Its Own Replacement

microsoft icon 2012Following news that Google is likely working to replace the much-maligned cookie for tracking and ad targeting on the Web, Ad Age is reporting Microsoft is working on its own cookie-replacement technology.

Microsoft is apparently developing technology that would run on its own devices and platforms including Windows desktops, tablets and smartphones, Xbox, Bing and Internet Explorer. Microsoft’s ownership of these various products enables it to replace the cookie with what Ad Age says is essentially a device identifier that users would opt-into when accepting the usual terms of service agreement. That would give Microsoft the ability to offer advertisers the cross-device and cross-platform tracking their so desperate for.

“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,” The Media Kitchen president Barry Lowenthal told Ad Age.

The need to find an alternative to the browser based third-party cookie is increasing since it cannot track the growing percentage of web traffic that comes from mobile devices — or connected TVs and gaming consoles such as Xbox — not to mention that several browsers’ default settings block third-party cookies.

Micorosoft and Google both have said their efforts in this area are in early stages. Still, the move toward proprietary technology by a handful of behemoths — Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft among them — gives pause to many in the industry. Not only would these companies have insight into the data generated from their tracking technologies, there is the potential these companies could hoard advertiser data.

Whether advertisers would be willing to adopt a closed tracking technology limited to Microsoft or Google products is unclear. Michael Schoen, EVP-programmatic product management at IPG Mediabrands tells Ad Age that Google and Microsoft would have a hard time controlling that data because advertisers would expect the identifiers to work with the ad buying and measurement systems advertisers and agencies already have in place.

Google’s dominance in display advertising gives it considerable more leverage, yet there are Microsoft products such as Xbox for which advertisers could be willing to trade control to get tracking capabilities on a connected TV device.

Related Topics: Channel: Display Advertising | Display Advertising | Microsoft | Microsoft: Business Issues

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About The Author: writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting. Beyond Search Engine Land, Ginny provides search marketing and demand generation advice for ecommerce companies. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter



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  • richardw1980

    Today I can opt-out of of cookies through the use of cookie-blocking software. I can also opt-out of advertising by using ad-blocking software. It appears the days of being able to say “no” may be numbered…all in the name of greed. We try to say “no” to TV advertisements by way of the skip/fast forward button on the DVR remote, so the media giants dabble in technology that takes that takes away our ability to say “no”. Now we try to say “no” to cookies and advertisements online, and the software giants are trying to find a way to take away our ability to say “no”. I love it. I just love it.

  • Ivan Ponce Gomez

    I’ve written an article about how cookies have evolved, and how they are now condemned to extinction.

    My big concern is not the new technology itself, which is great because we could track in a cross-device way. But we’re moving from cookies, a technology that isn’t owned by one company, replacing it with propietary technologies that will consolidate the power of the big giants with large opt-in audiences (Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon…).

  • Pat Grady

    Cookies are so small, seem so harmless, and they are. Problem is that too many whores will sell their children, so teeny pieces of data are sold to data aggregators, and privacy is intruded. Sites sell (and give) our data away to others, who in turn give it to others. Blue Kai, Quantcast, others like them – and everyone’s complaining about Google and Bing cookies… the folks doing the extrapolating and data mining aren’t the ones being blamed, they’re the one who rely on the cookie for simple (non-distributed) data, who see that the ubiquitous distribution, means the days may be numbered. Data aggregators left them no choice but to develop proprietary methods, the one we’ve all shared, has been compromised, it’s reputation is now dirty, though mostly misguidedly so.

    So many stores gave away personal data, in exchange for a free analytics dashboard, or some cash… lacking scruples, and being a data whore, does have consequences.

    Funny part is how many of these partners have had relationships with G or B… data johns are also to blame. Now that we have exchanges, ouch, buyers and sellers everywhere. “We” ate the cookie.

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