Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Will Firefox 5 Bring Us Closer to Tying Desktop and Mobile Behavior Data?

Firefox 5 is here with a host of new features.

One that I found interesting is Sync, which Mozilla promises will:

... seamlessly connect your desktop and mobile Firefoxes, so you can access your browsing history, passwords, bookmarks and even open tabs no matter which device you use. Access years of desktop browsing the first day you fire up your mobile, and use saved passwords from your desktop to fill out forms on your phone.

Now you can surf the Web on your desktop, get up in the middle of browsing and have your open tabs ready and waiting on your mobile, just as you left them.

That is pretty cool (Confession: I haven't downloaded FF5 and tried this feature actually yet.).

Yes, it's convenient for consumers. But it's even more intriguing for marketers. If this functions as promised, this presents a potentially huge opportunity for marketers to track a user's online behavior across desktop and mobile...and target ads accordingly. It is extremely powerful to know that someone may have started a search for "SUV" on a desktop computer and then later on searched for "Jeep dealers" on their mobile when he is driving around looking for a local dealership.

Up until now, it was nearly impossible to tie desktop and mobile behavior with a traditional cookie-based approach. So, this browser-based approach is interesting for sure!

For example, we would finally be able to answer the client's question on whether the mobile SEM campaign we ran drove incremental conversions from their desktop SEM campaign? Now, we'll know how many were the same users.

However, before getting too excited, one big concern is I don't know what Firefoxes mobile browser market share is, but I can't imagine it being that big because I don't know anyone who downloads an alternative browser to what's native on mobile devices. And I don't know any device that has Firefox installed by default. But, Sync is an interesting new feature that has implications for online advertising. And if history is any indication, browser developers often copy innovative features from each other (e.g., tab browsing, pop-up ad blocker). So, maybe one day soon my dream will be a reality.

Have you tried Sync?


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