Verizon’s acquisition of AOL (News - Alert) has yielded a blending of its mobile and online analytics capability to the point where it has enabled cookies for advertising customers on both platforms.
Some people are calling it a Zombie Cookie because it stays aware of your activities at all times. Others have referred to it as a Super Cookie. Let’s see where we end up.
Super Cookies – You Like Me, You Really Like Me!
Now, via the use of the Unique Identifier Header on all the web traffic from my phone, advertisers are going to know that I am a Starbucks or Domino’s customer, and subsequently target me with relevant mobile advertising that links the mobile traffic information to my postal and email addresses, combining that with big data from other resources such as my gender, age, and interests. This allows Verizon to be just as social a web company as Google (News - Alert) and Facebook. The value that AOL brought to the table was the existing base of analytics, advertisers and third-party partners.
The cookies don’t see encrypted data, so it does not interfere with your banking systems and the like. On the other hand, that means the UIDH is available for others to listen to, and discern who you are. This allows third-party advertisers to develop specific user profiles, which further add to the analytic information available about you.
You can opt out, but why would you want to?
Zombie Cookies – They are Everywhere
The UIDH is not a web browser insertion but one for all IP traffic, so it applies to all my apps. This makes the data incredibly more useful, interesting and invasive, since the profile is elaborate. Like zombie attacks, this makes it so that all the advertisers can converge on you, inundating you with information. In addition, other big data users like HR and potential employers are going to know more about you than probably even you do.
Be careful what you search for; you many never get rid of it. I guess my elementary school teachers were right; I now have a permanent record.
I may have mixed feelings about this. I am thinking the web and mobile should be on a level playing field. I would also like to see telephone service have this kind of connection, and the oddball thing is, I am sure third parties have the landline phone numbers linked. So the historical rules of customer proprietary network information – which telephone companies acquire about their subscribers – are one more case of old regulation refusing to die. Whether you think the cookies are super or zombies, the regulations have a lot of zombie rules hanging around, dragging the future down.
Carl Ford (News - Alert) is CEO and community developer of Crossfire Media (www.xfiremedia.com), a partner of TMC (News - Alert), the parent company of CUSTOMER magazine.
Edited by Kyle Piscioniere