Google wants to restrict advertising tracking on Android

The “Privacy Sandbox” is now being extended to Google’s mobile operating system. The almost limitless collection of data on smartphones is to be ended.

 Google wants to restrict ad tracking on Android

After Apple’s privacy initiative, Google is following suit : The Android manufacturer wants to restrict tracking with a device ID and provide app developers with more privacy-friendly advertising options. Google is allowing itself and the app developers a long transition phase of two years.

In order to put Android advertising on a new footing, Google is expanding the “Privacy Sandbox” initiative, which also includes stands for the elimination of third-party cookies in the Chrome browser. However, the advertising group is trying to take a more cautious approach than its competitor Apple. “We recognize that other platforms have taken a different approach to protecting ad privacy by drastically restricting existing technologies used by developers and advertisers,” Google executive Anthony Chavez wrote in a blog post.

Advertising ID is mothballed

The core of advertising tracking under Android is the “Advertising ID” (short: AdID), with which app developers receive a data point for the permanent identification of their users. Using this identifier, advertising service providers and advertisers can not only find out what users are doing in a specific app, but also compare activities across different apps. But the system was constantly being expanded by the users, so that even trivial apps suddenly recorded the user’s location permanently and forwarded it to special service providers. As the operator of the Play Store, Google has only intervened against data misuse in the past in blatant exceptional cases.

With the latest Android versions, Goole has at least made data collection more transparent and regularly revokes the permissions granted to unused apps Limit data misuse and notification spam. Users can also change their AdID independently, although this makes little difference in practice. With the Privacy Sandbox, Google goes one step further. In the medium term, app developers should be able to do without cross-app IDs.

Replacement technologies for more data protection

New alternatives should take their place. Google names the suggestions Topics and FLEDGE known from the browser. With Topics, the advertising profiles should be created by the device itself, instead of channeling user data through a long series of data silos and linking them again and again. The users should be able to see the profile information clearly. Tracking is to be prevented by Google only releasing a small number of properties and, on top of that, mixing in wrong data.

FLEDGE is to be used as another technology. The app developers should generate usable user profiles themselves from the user data of their own app, which can then be enriched with Google’s Customer Audience API. Apps that can evaluate many user interactions in order to create purchase profiles from them would be preferred. The advertising auctions themselves are also to be moved to the end user’s device, so that advertising networks and data service providers cannot skim data in the background.

There are also other techniques that can be used, for example, to bill ads and measure the effectiveness of individual campaigns are required. In the future, app developers should no longer integrate advertising plugins directly into their apps, but rather integrate them via a central SDK runtime. With this radical step, Google is not only imitating Apple, but is also accommodating the increasingly critical checks by the data protection authorities. To show the support of the app developers, Google published positive statements from Snap, Rovio and Duolingo.

Distribution battle

However, whether manufacturers of smaller apps will be enthusiastic about the new system, may be doubted. Google itself points out that 90 percent of the apps in the Play Store are currently free. Google gives you a guarantee of at least two years for the advertising ID. However, the new rules are likely to make it considerably more difficult for smaller developers to generate advertising revenue as before.

It is by no means certain whether advertising customers are willing to invest more money in higher-quality or less annoying ads.iOS developers also had to cope with a drastic slump in advertising prices. Competition authorities around the world are currently watching Google’s advertising business with unusual attention. The adtech industry also does not want to accept being cut off from data flows. More and more providers are currently establishing themselves who have alternative identifiers to the advertising ID in their portfolio. It is not yet clear to what extent Google wants or can prevent their business model.

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