Google to Ditch Cookies, Start Tracking Users With Anonymous Identifier?


In what could have a significant impact for advertisers online, Google is considering whether to change how they track users online. USA Today reported that Google will no longer use traditional cookies to track users, instead using an anonymous identifier called "AdID", or anonymous identification.

Google would then give permission to track via the AdID to ad networks and other advertisers that agree to their guidelines. By tracking with an AdID as opposed to cookies, the data is supposedly more anonymous and protects the user's privacy.

Cookies have fallen out of favor with many consumers who are opting out of all tracking cookies, because of how it tracks users as they traveled throughout the web. This is particularly the case for third-party tracking cookies which are often used for behavioral and personalized ad targeting. And advertisers and website owners in the UK already have to comply with much stricter cookie regulations.

There are some concerns over the fact that accompany such as Google would be the one controlling the specific AdID technology, rather than a third party. That ultimately gives Google a lot of control about users personal information, although some argue that they are actually doing much more than most companies are in order to protect their users data and to defend against it being released.

The anonymous (and only) source for the story who tipped off USA Today said he didn't want to be identified, as the proposal has not been made public yet.

Google denied any plans for an imminent change, according to a quote given to USA Today.

"Technological enhancements can improve users' security while ensuring the web remains economically viable. We and others have a number of concepts in this area, but they're all at very early stages," Google spokesman Rob Shilkin said. He declined to comment further.

Any change made to the usage of tracking cookies would have a widespread impact on the entire online advertising industry, and it is definitely worth watching to see if Google does make moves toward this change.

About the author

Jennifer Slegg began as a freelance writer, and turned to search engine optimization and writing content for the web in 1998. She has created numerous content-rich sites in niche markets and works with many clients on content creation, strategy, and monetization. She writes about many search industry and social media topics on her blog, and is a frequent speaker at search industry conferences on SEO, content marketing and content monetization. Acknowledged as the leading expert on the Google AdSense contextual advertising program, she runs JenSense, a blog dealing exclusively with contextual advertising. She is also the founder and editor of The SEM Post. She is known by many as her handle Jenstar on various webmaster forums.