The Cookie Chip: Post-Browser Ad-Tracking May Be Silicon

The future of cookie tracking lives on the silicon chip, not in the Web browser. It makes interactive television the data source.

At least that's how Flingo cofounder and CEO Ashwin Navin sees it. Navin, founding partner of I/O Ventures, and co-founder of BitTorrent, never thought he'd work with silicon chip makers to produce better ad-targeting technology.

The company's software ties television content with advertising on smartphones and tablets. Flingo software embedded on a semiconductor chip gets built in to televisions, Blu-Ray players and set-top boxes.

"The ads on your phone, tablet and or PC Web page synchronize with the content on your television," Navin said. "Typically, you would see ads associated with products you're searching for on Amazon or Google, but Flingo turns the TV into the data source."

As many companies struggle with smart TV, Flingo's core technology analyzes the video on the television to determine the show or the ad on screen, syncing it with content on smartphones and tablets. Navin has been working with semiconductor makers for years. Companies like Intel, Broadcom, MStar or Entropic embed Flingo's software on the chip to automate processes, collect data, serve up content and track the movement of users through the Web.

Long-term it could mean the end to browser tracking cookies and instead relying on System on Chip (SoC) technology embedded in electronic devices to identify purchase paths from device to device.

Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, among others, rely on the one-log in method. Embedding ad-tracking software on the chip in smartphones, tablets and PCs could eliminate the need for browser cookies if the automation moved to the semiconductor chip.

Navin believes Google will offer something similar, but not embed software in the semiconductor chip. "They will own the ad technology in the Android layer for Google TV; it won't necessarily go into the chipset layer," he said. "They will treat the chips as a commodity."

Flingo recently appointed Google's Former Head of AdMob Ad Operations Jackson Huynh to COO to continue the expansion of the Samba TV platform and transform TV advertising into a dynamic, multi-screen experience "without making ads intrusive."

The company also introduced Samba, which enables advertisers to build direct relationships with TV viewers by synchronizing media on TV, as well as tablets and smartphones. The technology identifies TV shows within seconds, and makes related content available to consumers. It leverages check-ins, polls and quizzes in apps on smartphones and tablets to interact with TV content.

Navin said a small piece of Samba that processes image and video integrates on the semiconductor chip. The user interface is typically implemented by a Web browser running on the Internet-connected TV or on a nearby smarphone, tablet or PC. It's done through proprietary automatic content recognition technology.

There are many possibilities. Through a partnership with Innovid, Flingo can monetize that connection from TVs to other devices, giving advertisers targeted, interactive and actionable ad experiences.

Flingo, founded in 2008, has raised about $8 million from August Capital, Mark Cuban, Gary Lauder and others.

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5 comments about "The Cookie Chip: Post-Browser Ad-Tracking May Be Silicon".
  1. Scott Martino from Mercedes-Benz USA , June 14, 2013 at 10:46 a.m.
    Very interesting concept. But how would this fly from a privacy perspective? At least with a cookie you can delete or opt out, if your data is know stored with a piece of hardware then you have to either take the chip out or be offered some type of way to disable the data feed into the software that sits on the chip. In either case I would hope this can evolve into a better way of understanding the attribution/contribution of all devices it tracks.
  2. Stephen C. Baldwin from Steve Baldwin Associates , June 14, 2013 at 3:10 p.m.
    Good question, Scott. It's very interesting to see the "P-word" (Privacy) being increasingly mentioned in the articles on this site. Did something newsworthy about privacy happen in the past week?
  3. Scott Martino from Mercedes-Benz USA , June 14, 2013 at 3:13 p.m.
    Anytime something new in the world of data and tracking comes up its bound to prompt questions of privacy.
  4. S. Fan from Yahoo , June 15, 2013 at 2:09 p.m.
    I could not help but agree with Scott. At first glance, it would be a great solution for cross-devices tracking and replacement for browser cookie. But the problem is, you cannot embed a tracking mechanism in personal devices, without the users' permission. It will not pass privacy regulation in the long run. same reason Apple deprecated device ID and switch to IDFA, which is re-setable and not PII.
  5. Brian Allen from Altitude Digital Partners , June 17, 2013 at 1:01 p.m.
    Great point Scott. The cool thing about SOC tech is that the stack is upgradeable and updateable in real time. The ability to delete or manage the memory is a small part of the chip management. This could be accomplished on device, off device, or in app with the same type of UX. The real question is do you need to add the power draw and additional footprint of the SOChip, or can you just embed the cookie stack in the current tech without incurring the cost of the new (commodity) SOC to the BOM and footprint of the device? In the instance of the TV or Settop-Box that has a power cord, and no size restraint, this is not an issue, but in the mobile device arena this is a primary concern.