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What is Cross-Device Tracking?
Advertisers do this in two main ways. The first, called “deterministic” tracking, is performed by platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, that require users to login before using their services. This allows the platform to link up all of the devices connected to a single account. Lacking such a platform (or access to this data), most advertisers rely on “probabilistic” tracking. Under this approach, advertisers collect an immense amount of data about users’ internet behavior—device type, operating system, IP address, and more. Comprehensively analyzing this data, advertisers are able to make probabilistic determinations about whether certain devices are used by the same consumer.
What Do Advertisers Need to Know?
At the hearing, a representative from the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection stressed the importance of transparency by companies utilizing cross-device tracking. As such, advertisers engaged in this practice should clearly disclose on their websites that data collected from one device may be aggregated with other data and used to serve ads on separate devices. In addition, advertisers should review their data collection practices for compliance with the Digital Advertising Association’s recently-released guidance, which explains how the self-regulatory group’s existing transparency and user choice standards apply to cross-device tracking.
Arent Fox will continue monitoring issues related to cross-device tracking. For questions related to your data collection practices please contact Sarah L. Bruno, Anthony V. Lupo, or Thorne Maginnis with questions.