From today’s New York Times:
The internet industry shuddered last year when Apple introduced privacy measures for the iPhone that threatened to upend online tracking and cripple digital advertising. Google pledged similar privacy actions.
But in less than a year, another type of internet tracking has started taking over. And it is having the unintended effect of reinforcing the power of some of tech’s biggest titans.
The shift suggests that gathering people’s online data for targeted advertising is not going away. That has implications for how companies make money online and how the internet operates. It also underlines the advantages built up by some of the largest digital platforms.
“They’ve entrenched their own power,” Eric Seufert, a media strategist and the author of Mobile Dev Memo, a blog about mobile advertising, said of Apple and Google.
For years, digital businesses relied on what is known as “third party” tracking. Companies such as Facebook and Google deployed technology to trail people everywhere they went online. If someone scrolled through Instagram and then browsed an online shoe store, marketers could use that information to target footwear ads to that person and reap a sale.
But that kind of invasive tracking is being scaled back or blocked by Apple and Google to protect people’s privacy. Last April, Apple introduced a feature so iPhones users could choose not to be followed by different apps. Google also announced a plan to disable the tracking tech in its Chrome web browser by 2023 and said it was working to limit data sharing on Android phones.
Now tracking has shifted to what is known as “first party” tracking. With this method, people are not being trailed from app to app or site to site. But companies are still gathering information on what people are doing on their specific site or app, with users’ consent. This kind of tracking, which companies have practiced for years, is growing.
In other words, Google is accumulating data on its own users’ search queries, location data and contact information. Pinterest is doing the same with its users on its site and app, while TikTok is gathering information on the people who are on its app. The New York Times also does first-party tracking.
Read the complete story here.