Smartphones are different from cellphones and landlines, in that smartphones reflect you in a way the other devices don’t. And marketers are taking full advantage of it.

From Sunday’s New York Times:

Selling Secrets of Phone Users to Advertisers

SAN FRANCISCO — Once, only hairdressers and bartenders knew people’s secrets.

Now, smartphones know everything — where people go, what they search for, what they buy, what they do for fun and when they go to bed. That is why advertisers, and tech companies like Google and Facebook, are finding new, sophisticated ways to track people on their phones and reach them with individualized, hypertargeted ads. And they are doing it without cookies, those tiny bits of code that follow users around the Internet, because cookies don’t work on mobile devices.

But other trackers do, as the Times piece notes.

Drawbridge is one of several start-ups that have figured out how to follow people without cookies, and to determine that a cellphone, work computer, home computer and tablet belong to the same person, even if the devices are in no way connected. Before, logging onto a new device presented advertisers with a clean slate.

“We’re observing your behaviors and connecting your profile to mobile devices,” said Eric Rosenblum, chief operating officer at Drawbridge. But don’t call it tracking. “Tracking is a dirty word,” he said.

Then again, cyberstalking consumers is a dirty business.

Which is why you need to read this piece.

 


John R. Carroll, who also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town, is a media analyst and mass communication professor at Boston University.
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