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Do Cookies Crumble On Mobile?

With mobile phones becoming the first source of information consumers rely on when they wake up every day, the percentage of time spent in-apps has increased to 86 % compared to 14 % of time spent in a mobile browser. Traditionally, advertisers and publishers relied on cookies for tracking web browser activities on desktop devices. Since cookies have limited effectiveness on mobile browsers and don’t work in apps, a whole different approach is required to optimize desired tracking and effectiveness of campaigns on mobile.


But what are cookies?

A cookie is a small text file, stored on web browsers, typically including a unique identifier that can be used in different ways to enhance the users experience such as enabling custom settings and keeping users logged in. There are first-party cookies, who are set by the publisher itself, and third-party cookies, set by the measurement and advertising companies. While using cookies is the common way to do this on desktop, it is not as effective on mobile due to the limitations of cookie functionality that vary by device, operation system, as well as the fragmentation of user’s activity between apps and mobile web.


So, how about cookies on mobile?


There are some inherent limitations of using cookies to track users information on mobile devices. Although 1st party cookies information is available on mobile browsing through Android devices, Apple iOs devices and Chrome, as the environment is similar to desktop browsing, 3rd party cookies are limited on mobile web browsing through Apple devices. In apps however, as any “web view” and the browsing information are kept in a private space within each app, often referred to as “sandbox”, cookies are not available. This makes cookies unavailable for advertisers to create efficient targeting audiences and draft successful campaigns. Although there is no straightforward substitution of cookies for mobile, there are some statistical identification methods such as fingerprinting that can be explored.


And how about tracking in apps?


As cookies do not work in apps, Apple and Google created the Mobile Advertising IDs to help advertisers target ads and track impact. Google’s AAID and Apple’s IDFA are privacy-friendly, can be used cross-apps and are much more persistent than cookies. We will explore the opportunities and challenges in a follow-up article soon.


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About Paulina

Paulina is Marketing Manager at adsquare. She is an experienced digital marketing professional interested in everything mobile and tech. Her specialty is in writing captivating and relevant content and her passion is social media.

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