The IAB is to issue guidelines on how its mobile members can adhere to the ePrivacy Directive as the trade body bolsters its regulatory compliance team.
The IAB’s guidelines will include how the behavioural targeting icon should be displayed on mobile devices and will how advertisers can appropriately target consumers via location.
Tasked with setting the agenda is the trade body’s regulatory compliance team, which is in the process of recruiting its first-ever mobile specialist who report to Nick Stringer, IAB head of regulation (nma.co.uk 3 Apr 2012).
These moves come as the ePrivacy Directive comes into full force on May 26 and technology-players in the mobile industry prepare for Apple’s eventual barring of apps that access the iPhones’ unique identity codes, or UDIDs.
The last few months have seen a flood of alternatives to UDID as Apple continues with its phasing out, or “depreciation”, of apps that track usage or serve ads by accessing devices’ UDIDs (nma.co.uk 22 Aug 2012).
Although Apple has yet to publicly state its motives for the move, it is widely-believed to have been prompted by fears of potential regulatory scrutiny from bodies such as the European Commission.
Richard Firminger, European MD of Flurry, a company that helps developers monetise their apps, said it was focusing on ensuring that its ‘alternative ID system’ operated within regulatory constraints.
“We’re looking at alternatives such as ‘finger printing’ and ‘MAC address’ [Media Access Control]. The key task is to make sure the tracking is reliable and accurate,” he added.
Earlier this month, mobile ad network InMobi announced the launch of its Ad Tracker tool which lets advertisers measure conversions on both mobile and web apps without having to access UDIDs where iPhones are concerned.
This has been made possible with the use of a cookie-based tracking tool, dubbed ODIN1 by InMobi, which identifies a user by accessing a device’s MAC address.
According to François Deschênes, InMobi product manager, this is the “easiest replacement” for UDID as it works particularly well on devices using Wi-Fi networks.
“At the time of conversion we are able to track the cookie back and provide analytics in real-time,” he added.
Rob Jonas, InMobi VP and MD for Europe, said, “What we’ve done with this tool is react to developments in the market, such as the depreciation of UDID [by Apple], over some question marks around privacy that UDID raised.”
However, the alternatives to tracking app usage and conversion via UDIDs come with a potential flaw given that the analytics are derived using different methodologies.
Ryan Barnes, head of product and business operations at mobile agency Grapple Mobile, which has developed apps for various clients, said that precautions have to be taken when adapting to a new way of accounting for usage.
“Back in mid-March we worked with our partners at Flurry to ensure that provisioning was in place for the UDID deprecation. Although no legacy data would be necessarily lost if we did not take action, the consequence would be the overall miscounting of data [i.e. existing users being counted as new users],” she said.
“In order to ensure that we could continue to successfully track app engagement we immediately updated our SDK version for the apps affected.”
While the data may vary a little, Rob Jonas of InMobi is equally assured of the consistency of InMobi’s Ad Tracker analytics.
”This isn’t a problem we’re terribly concerned about as we’re tracking conversions, the mechanism might vary but ultimately you’re tracking the effectiveness of the campaign,” he said.