Plus, the end of ad targeting in kid-friendly apps.

Spend any amount of time on the internet, and someone somewhere will build an advertising profile for you—even your phone does it. Google has long let you reset the advertising ID on Android, but last year it started allowing those on Android 12 to delete it entirely. You won’t have to be on the latest OS much longer. In April of this year, Google will make the same option available to all phones via Google Play Services update.

This option is available under the Google entry in system settings. The “Ads” sub-menu includes the option to reset your ID or delete it entirely, which just replaces it with a string of zeros. That way, anyone targeting ads using Google’s tools will no longer see you as a unique individual who loves ankle socks, ceramic clowns, and churros (or whatever you’re into). Of course, this will make the ads you see on your device less relevant. Apps that need a unique ID for something other than advertising can still do so with the app set ID.

Google said in a blog post that it would give “substantial notice” before axing what is known as AdId. But it will immediately begin seeking feedback on its proposed alternatives, which Google said aim to better protect users’ privacy and curb covert surveillance. Google said that its Privacy Sandbox on Android provides a clear path to improve user privacy without putting access to free content and services at risk. 

“These solutions will limit sharing of user data with third parties and operate without cross-app identifiers, including advertising ID. We’re also exploring technologies that reduce the potential for covert data collection, including safer ways for apps to integrate with advertising SDKs,” said Google.

The search giant added that it plans to launch a Privacy Sandbox beta by year-end and developers were invited to view its initial proposals and share feedback on the Android developer site.

Advertisers, app makers, and hundreds of small ad tech companies had expected changes to AdId after Apple last April forced software makers to seek user permission to track behavior across multiple apps through its comparable tool, called IDFA.

Google said it would work with app makers such as Snap and Activision Blizzard to design tools that support targeting ads and logging clicks while limiting access to personal information. An earlier move by Google to eliminate tracking technology in its Chrome browser by the end of 2023 led some of the company’s ad tech rivals to complain to competition authorities.

Last week, Google finalised a deal to have the UK antitrust regulator monitor the Chrome project. Google said it would apply the agreement’s principles, including treating itself the same as any rival, to the Android work.

Along with the expanded deletion option, Google is changing how apps have to declare permissions. Unfortunately, the permission change only applies to Android 12 and later, but the gist is apps have to list the com.google.android.gms.permission.AD_ID permission. This will not be allowed in apps intended for children. That essentially means no more Google-authorized ad targeting of kids. We don’t have an exact date for this, but as a GMS tweak, it will probably roll out gradually over the course of weeks. Permission enforcement for kid-friendly apps begins on April 1.

Categories: Digital Marketing


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