Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission announced it was seeking public comment about the privacy implications of the growing marketing/advertising practice of what the FTC calls “cross-device tracking,” which is exactly what it sounds like.
Basically, cross-device tracking means that instead of tracking your online activities and identity on one electronic communications device, you can be tracked across multiple devices, so that advertisers and tech companies in addition to the NSA and whoever the heck else can easily connect the dots and know what you're doing on your laptop and your desktop and your smartphone and your tablet.
The advertisers and tech companies who engage in cross-device tracking do not actually call it “cross-device tracking,” however; they are more likely to talk about the “integration of data.” And integration is a good thing, right? Sure sounds like it. After all, it's the opposite of “segregation,” which in turn has nasty connotations for anyone familiar with modern American history.
New ad tools
So last September, when Facebook announced that it would start using new advertising tools to let it track Facebook users' online activities across multiple devices, Facebook shunned words like “tracking” and instead discussed how it would “integrate” people's online activity across multiple devices. No “tracking” and certainly no “spying,” only integrating.
Today, the day after the FTC announced it wanted to discuss the privacy implications of cross-device tracking, AOL announced that it would enter a partnership with tech-marketing company Kenshoo to start integrating data across Facebook and Twitter, via an upcoming new advertising platform called “One.”
MediaPost first broke the news on Thursday, in a story headlined “Two to 'One': AOL Platform Now Targets Facebook And Twitter Users.” From an advertisers' or marketers' perspective the Kenshoo product does indeed sound pretty useful, allowing brands to “advertise across its network” and “open[ing] new opportunities for brands to target content … to specific audience segments,” as MediaPost put it, because “The platform signals a move toward the destruction of silos and integration of data.”
“Integration” again. Not cross-device tracking, nor any type of tracking at all, only integration. The words “track” and “tracking” aren't mentioned at all.