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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

9:23 PM 0
The third-party cookies used by advertisers and their agencies to track web browsing activity are under attack. Browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer try to block the years-old technology with "Do Not Track," and now internet behemoths are looking to replace cookies with their own tracking technologies. The newest entrant, according to Ad Age, is Microsoft, which sources say is working on a technology that could track users across Windows computers, Bing, Internet Explorer, Windows Phone devices, and Xbox consoles in order to serve highly targeted ads.

Microsoft said in a statement to the website that "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." However, the primary interest is likely in filling the gaps where cookies fall short, like on mobile, consoles, and streaming video services, where they have limited to no ability to track user activity.

Microsoft looking to replace the cookie. Microsoft and and Google are eyeing their own technologies to track people's digital behaviors -- the sites they visit, the apps they use, the videos they watch, etc. Such a cookie replacement would help them better target ads -- as well as give them immense power in the the digital-advertising space. How might the longtime rivals' odds stack up?

xbox device
Microsoft's cookie replacement would trace  users across Microsoft-owned devices and  services and target ads within those  environments.

Desktop computers, tablets and  smartphones running Windows operating  system; Microsoft's Xbox gaming console;  Microsoft-run services including Internet  Explorer and Bing.

Microsoft could bring TV into the tracking  and-targeting mix through Xbox, which lets  users watch videos on Hulu, YouTube and  even live TV through cable providers  Comcast Xfinity and Verizon FiOS.
Too few mobile users could hamper the  tracker's ability to span desktop, tablets and  smartphones. Research firm IDC projects  Microsoft's smartphone operating system's  market share at 3.9% globally compared  with  75.3% for Google's Android and 16.9%  for Apple's iOS.

Limiting the tracker to Microsoft's devices  and services would constrict some interest,  though the inclusion of Xbox could be a  game-changer.
google nexus

Details on Google's plans are scarce, but it would likely retain the current cookie's functionality and apply it to both the desktop and mobile web as well as mobile apps to track a single anonymized user across the various devices.

Chrome desktop and mobile browser, Chrome desktop operating system, tablets and smartphones running Google's Android mobile operating system, Google's network of third-party sites and apps.

Google already sees into the behaviors of billions of internet users through its own properties, including search, YouTube and Gmail, and network of third-party sites. Extending that across desktop and mobile and connecting the currently divided channels would give advertisers the most comprehensive window yet into consumers' digital habits.

Google's online-advertising dominance already makes people wary. Owning digital advertising's central-targeting technology and the data it reaps could re-raise regulatory concerns.

Google's position atop the digital-advertising food chain all but guarantees its cookie replacement will gain traction—assuming the advertising community and regulators are willing to cede the company even more power.