For years, the web has been largely free thanks to online ads. The problem is that nobody likes them. When they’re not obnoxiously taking over your entire screen or autoplaying, they’re tracking you everywhere you go online.
Ads can track where you go and which sites you visit and can be used to build up profiles on individuals — even if you never click on one. And when you do, they know what you bought and then they share that with other sites so they know you were up late buying ice cream, cat food or something a little more private.
The obvious logic would be to use an ad-blocker. But that’s not what keeps the internet thriving and available. Apple says it’s figured out some middle ground that keeps ads alive but without their nefarious ad tracking capabilities.
The tech giant came up with Privacy Preserving Ad Click Attribution. Yes, it’s a mouthful, but the tech itself shows promise.
A bit of background: Any time you buy something online, the store that placed the ad knows you bought something and so do the other sites where the ad was placed. When a person clicks on an ad, the store wants to know which site the ad was clicked on so they know where to keep advertising; this is known as ad attribution. Ads often use tracking images — tiny, near-invisible pixel-sized trackers embedded on websites that know when you’ve opened a webpage. These pixels carry cookies, which make it easy for ads to track users across pages and entire websites. Using these invisible trackers, websites can build up profiles on people — whether they click ads or not — from site to site, such as their interests, what they want to buy and more.
Apple’s thinking, outlined in a blog post Wednesday, is that ads don’t need to share with anyone else that you bought something from an online store. Ads just need to know that someone — and not an identifiable person — clicked on an ad on a site and bought something on another.
By taking the identifiable person out of the equation, Apple says its new technology can help preserve user privacy without reducing the effectiveness on ad campaigns. Read more