Advertisers and media companies have long counted on cookies – small text files that track online users – to allow them to retarget digital consumers with marketing messages. The strategy worked reasonably well, especially in the display ad industry, until now. As more consumers turn to mobile devices, smartphonedisplaybusinesses are losing some of their ability to track through cookies. Technology companies are delivering new ways for advertisers and media companies to follow consumers and these solutions have implications for how ads are sold.

Marketers and media companies are using new technology to follow the activities of each logged-in user. In an article for TechCrunch, Jack Krawczyk, notes that “logged-in users are uniquely keyed by their email address.” This identifying feature allows media companies and their marketing partners to capitalize on mobile advertising. They can match a consumer’s email address with information available from big data companies to see how many ad impressions are delivered to the user, if the user clicked and if the user purchased a product online. This is an important development because cookies do not work on smartphones and advertisers need a way to accurately calculate their ad metrics.

Even more impressive technical solutions are coming from companies like Drawbridge, Flurry and SessionM. Engineers at some of these firms are busy matching consumer behavior between desktops, tablets and mobile phones. Once confirmed, the engineers attach an ‘anonymous identifier’ to the matched, but anonymous, user. At that point, advertisers can then reach the consumer across all devices with consistent and retargeted messaging. This solution also helps advertisers connect with very specific audiences.

Kawczyk points out that publishers who “own and understand their logged-in users” will be the ones who can show advertisers an ROI and command solid prices for their ad space. Do you agree or do you think these strategies will heighten consumer privacy concerns?

[Sources: Krawcayk, Jack. Advertising’s Logged-In User Revolution is Brewing. Techcrunch.com. 28 Sept. 2013. Web. 8 Oct. 2013; Miller and Sengupta. Selling Secrets of Phone Users to Advertisers. NYTimes. 6 Oct. 2013. Web. 8 Oct. 2013]