SternisheFan writes "Apple's launch of the iPhone 5 in September came with a bunch of new commercials to promote the device. But Apple didn't shout quite so loud about an enhancement to its new mobile operating system, iOS 6, which also occurred in September: The company has started tracking users so that advertisers can target them again, through a new tracking technology called IFA or IDFA.
Previously, Apple had all but disabled tracking of iPhone users by advertisers when it stopped app developers from utilizing Apple mobile device data via UDID, the unique, permanent, non-deletable serial number that previously identified every Apple device. For the last few months, iPhone users have enjoyed an unusual environment in which advertisers have been largely unable to track and target them in any meaningful way. In iOS 6, however, tracking is most definitely back on, and it's more effective than ever, multiple mobile advertising executives familiar with IFA tell us. (Note that Apple doesn't mention IFA in its iOS 6 launch page).
When you look at an app, or browse the web, your presence generates a call for an ad. The publisher's site that you're looking at then passes the IFA to the ad server. The advertiser is then able to know that a specific iPhone user is looking at a specific publication and can serve an ad targeting that user. IFA becomes particularly useful, for instance, if an ad server notices that a particular IFA is looking at a lot of different car sites. Perhaps that user is interested in buying a new car. They'll likely start seeing a lot of car ads on their iPhone. More importantly, IFA will allow advertisers to track the user all the way to "conversion" —which for most advertisers consists of an app download. Previously, advertisers had no idea whether their ads actually drove people to download apps or buy things. Now IFA will tell them. The IFA does not identify you personally —it merely provides a bunch of aggregate audience data that advertisers can target with ads. Tracking is on by default"
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