ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Industry Dive acquired Mobile Commerce Daily in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out our topic page for the latest mobile commerce news.

1800Flowers tests mobile fingerprinting for tracking cross-channel shoppers

PHILADELPHIA – A 1800Flowers executive at eTail East said that the company is using mobile fingerprinting among other methods to get as many perspectives on consumer data as possible.

During the “Optimizing your marketing channels and Accurately Tracking Conversions” panel discussion, executives from Vistaprint, The Children’s Place,, Neustar AdAdvisor, Alex and Ani and Vermont Teddy Bear discussed the challenges in tracking mobile data. Since there is no persistent cookie in mobile, tracking can be difficult, so companies are left to experiment with different methods.

“We do use fingerprinting technology that can track when someone starts to buy flowers on a mobile device,” said Will Ferguson, vice president of display advertising, social media and affiliate marketing at 1800Flowers, Carle Place, NY. ?

“It’s something we’re uber focused to figure out,” he said. “I don’t think anyone has a completely comprehensive strategy.

“Through some attribution partners and just being able to [say] ‘Hey this person on this device is the same person on that desktop’.”

Tracking challenges
Unlike with desktop browsing, mobile browsing presents many new obstacles to managing data from consumers.

One issue is that application sandboxing prevents data sharing across iOS apps and prevents apps from reading cookie data stored by Mobile Safari (see story).

Some applications try to get around this challenge by opening Safari briefly to search for stored cookies.

That way it can attribute downloads to an event such as viewing a mobile ad. This, however, creates a less-than desirable experience for users, where they have to wait for the phone to open a new window before downloading the app.

An alternative method that Mr. Ferguson mentioned in the panel discussion is called fingerprinting. This process correlates pieces of anonymous information, such as such as IP address, operating system and browser version, from a user’s device.

Fingerprinting was originally created for banks to track consumer fraud and is very accurate. Fingerprint profiles can not be deleted and can be tracked across multiple devices.

Fingerprinting is cookieless, but requires brands to match criteria to information from apps and mobile sites.

It also may come along with some legal privacy issues (see story).

Yet, since the information fingerprinting collects does not have any personally identifiable information, it is likely that the tactic will stick around.

Florist fingerprints
For 1800flowers, fingerprinting is still in the experimental phase.

According to Mr. Ferguson, the company is waiting to see where Facebook and Google takes the playing field. The flower company is waiting for Facebook and Google to offer them analysis of user data.

For now, the company blends together a number of different digital tracking channels, such as a last-click, last-view model, a first-touch model and a logistic regression. 1800Flowers accumulates internal data points as well as external information.

“We try to make sense of the data and move forward from there,” Mr. Ferguson said.

“It’s a huge focus for our company to figure it out this year,” he said. “I think the industry is getting closer, so it’ll be interesting to watch.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York