Eight mobile ad networks are collaborating to come up with a new way to track iPhone and iPad users. The initiative, called ODIN, comes as a result of the pressure that Apple is applying upon networks to protect user privacy by stopping the use of unique device ID numbers (UDID) for tracking purposes. The working group claims that over 60% of mobile ad revenues derive from performance-based marketing campaigns and could be threatened unless a standard is agreed.

The eight networks involved in the new group, Adfonic, SAY Media, RadiumOne, Mdotm, StrikeAd, Smaato, Velti and Jumptap, hope that encryption of another kind unique device identifier might hold the key:
ODIN has proposed one alternative right now, but that could change if Apple doesn’t like it. Right now, ODIN derives an ID from a phone’s MAC address (or media access control address). It’s the address that’s used to connect to Wi-fi networks. ODIN hashes or assigns a secure key to the number so that privacy is maintained. “It is ‘computationally impossible’ for the original ODIN to be traced back to the hashed ODIN, meaning it cannot be reversed to connect targeting or installation information to a particular user,” the group said in a statement.

The problem is that Apple might not go for it. Jim Payne:
“The MAC Address is terrible. Your phone is constantly broadcasting your MAC Address to find Wi-fi networks. It’s literally being broadcast while you walk around. So it’s got all the same problems at UDID, plus this other huge problem.”

The ODIN Working Group is apparently working with privacy groups such as TrustE and the Digital Advertising Alliance. You can find out more here.