French retargeting firm Criteo announced on Tuesday the launch of a mobile Web tracking solution designed to let marketers deliver targeted ads to consumers across mobile browsers.
Criteo’s mobile Web solution (the company has said it is still in the process of developing a branded name for the product) allows marketers to serve personalized ads to consumers through Web browsers on smartphones and tablets.
The ads are targeted through cookies, explained Criteo’s chief product officer, Jonathan Wolf. The argument that advertisers cannot target mobile ads with cookies is only partly true since “cookies still exist on mobile Web browsers,” Wolf said. “We are using cookies throughout our [mobile Web] solution, but part of the complexity of mobile is that each browser treats cookies differently."
Similar to their desktop counterparts, mobile browsers handle first- and third-party cookies in different ways. Google’s mobile Chrome browser, for example, allows all cookies by default and allows users to switch to more restrictive options. Apple’s mobile Safari browser accepts cookies from sites users have visited (i.e., first-party cookies) and blocks third-party cookies by default, though users can change their privacy settings.
And while Mozilla announced early this year that it was experimenting with blocking third-party cookies from its mobile Firefox browser, the company has since delayed this plan.
Wolf declined to discuss in detail how Criteo navigates the browsers’ various criteria but pointed out that after releasing its mobile web solution to a handful of customers in late September, the company claims to have delivered "at least two billion” mobile ads among 20 countries.
“Do cookies work in all environments? No. But they do work in a significant number of environments, which is how we’ve already delivered billions of ads,” he said.
Criteo’s mobile Web solution follows the company’s recent initial public offering and its acquisition of Ad-X Tracking this summer. Ad-X Tracking specializes in targeted in-app ads and so is not part of the mobile Web product, but the company will be announcing more news about its work with Ad-X soon, Wolf added.