There’s An App For That: Mobile-Ad Firms Seek New Ways to Track You

Via Technology Review:

Few smart-phone users realize it, but mobile-ad companies track them as they use many free apps. They do this in order to fine-tune the ads the users see. But now that Apple has started to restrict a common way of tracking users, ad companies are scrambling for alternatives, and hoping to “teach” consumers to appreciate the targeted ads that support free apps.

This week, a large consortium of mobile-ad firms launched a new technical approach to tracking users of free apps. The consortium says the new method protects users’ privacy, and will allow people to opt out if they prefer not to have their behavior logged. That opt-out mechanism would be modeled on those offered by online-ad companies for people who do not want their browsing history used to tailor ads.

Previously, mobile ads tracked users on iPhones and iPads by noting their unique device identifier, or UDID, a code assigned to every Apple device and made available to apps installed on them to help those apps store settings and other features. By comparing UDIDs across different apps serving their ads, a company could know how many people had seen a particular campaign. It could also build a database of UDIDs to avoid showing one person the same ads in different apps, or to target users with ads based on the apps they use.

App user be ware…