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Google’s Android App Tracking: Its Impact on the Advertising World

For many advertisers, Wednesday’s Google blog post caused flashbacks. The company announcement it brings the Privacy Sandbox to Android, which means that over the next two years, Android phones will phase out the same cross-app tracking mechanisms as Apple suddenly blocked last summer.

Apple’s privacy change, which requires users to sign up for cross-app tracking, has taken its toll on adware programs that rely on profiling individual user data to track how people browse their apps. phones. Meta’s chief financial officer, David Wehner, said during the company’s earnings call in January that changing Apple would cost Meta $10 billion this year. With over 80% of the global smartphone market share, an Android-wide shift could be even bigger.

However, Google is handling its rollout very differently, and as a result, the industry seems to breathe a sigh of relief. Google’s Anthony Chavez called the project “a multi-year initiative” in the announcement post, and practically called on Apple to “outright restrict existing technologies used by developers and advertisers.” Google, he said, would build better technology before cutting existing tools. In general, it proceeds the same way with Android Privacy Sandbox as the way it rolled out the Privacy Sandbox for Chrome – which has already been delayed until at least 2023, in part due to the failure of the first attempt. cookie-free ad tracking from Google, FLOC.

A Meta employee said the pace of Google’s blocking of cross-app tracking gives the company a lot more time to prepare. “It’s a much more comprehensive set of proposals that seems to be aimed at actually solving problems and finding good solutions to them,” the employee said.

The relaxed timeline defines the fundamental difference between Apple’s and Google’s approaches to tracking user data. As Apple tries to position itself as the king of user privacy, Google recognizes that it balances the interests of advertisers, publishers and users. This, in turn, gave Google – a company that brought more $209 billion advertising revenue last year — even more advantage with advertisers.

The Meta employee put it simply: the people at Google “understand advertising much better.”

Still, it may not be business as usual. Ty Martin, founder and CEO of marketing analytics firm Ad Bacon, said he suspected the changes could be akin to when Google replaced DoubleClick IDs, which has helped advertisers track individual users across the web, with Ads Data Hub in 2018. This new tool, which aggregates data, is less powerful and requires too much technical expertise in data science for many people can use it. “You don’t quite get the level of granularity,” Martin said.

As for specific changes that Google might consider making, Don Marti, Vice President of Ecosystem Innovation at CafeMedia, highlighted the three new elements of the Privacy Sandbox for Android. developer website. These, he said, are the best clues yet to what cross-app no-tracking advertising might look like on Android.

Two are the Topics API and the Fledge API, which Google has also tested for Chrome. Both would begin to allow advertisers to personalize ad audiences without tracking individual user activity. A third feature, “SDK Runtime”, could then be ball joint fingerprintingwhereby advertisers collect other third-party data to aggregate information about individual users.

However, none of these features are Google’s final answer. Rather, they were introduced so developers have time to review sample code, process what Google is trying to do, and offer tweaks and suggestions. Advertisers should take comfort in the fact that Google’s timeline is at least two years long, giving them plenty of time to step in.

Also, advertisers are born adapters, said Nirish Parsad, chief privacy officer at Tinuiti. “When I started in digital marketing, there were less than 100 tools. Now there are over 8,000,” he said. “There are a lot of smart people who will work there- on it, and we’re looking at all angles to better understand what lasting solutions might be.”

The key, he said, is to use all the time they have. “That doesn’t mean doing nothing,” he warned. “That means it’s a few years away and we have to start thinking.”