Facebook Inc (FB), Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO): Limiting Online Advertising Could Hammer These Companies

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)

Microsoft is in the same position as Google. It has a browser in Internet Explorer and a search engine in Bing. The difference is that Bing is still new and trying to gain market share. I’m not saying that I’m privy to any insider knowledge here (in fact I’ll tell you I’m not). However, there could be a move here to promote Bing and IE by working towards a cookie-lessened world and committing to a lighter tracking load than Google, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and the others have become accustomed to. Microsoft has the muscle to pull that off, I just don’t know if it has the will.

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)

You didn’t think I’d forget Amazon, did you? I’m famously down on the Internet retailer for being 20 years in and still not impressing anyone with its profitability. But what profitability it DOES have centers on being able to track its users and to make recommendations based on that tracking. Taking away cookies from Amazon would be another good reason to avoid the company. It would be like a department store taking away all of the salesmen from the showroom floor and hoping people will just stumble upon what they want to buy.

Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO)

The odd company out in the search engine listing, Yahoo doesn’t have it’s own browser out there to defend against privacy crusaders. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing or a good thing if a cookie-free world happens. To deal with this, Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) will have to develop a system that allows its users to opt in somehow to being tracked. But that’s a hard sell and might be too controversial for the hotseat that CEO Marissa Mayer finds herself on right now.

Mmmmm. Now I want some cookies. But I’m on a diet–just like a lot of the companies that rely on cookies to make their money will find themselves on. The question becomes how will they react. Not if, but how. The loss of cookie-generated data and its ability to be turned into money is too great for the larger players not to react in some way. Whether that way is subtle and dynamic or crude and destructive is yet to be seen.

Oh, and you know who WON’T make money off of Firefox going cookie-free? Firefox. Mozilla is a non-profit organization. That might be the scariest thing of all for companies that rely on cookies.

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