Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President of Android, Chrome and Apps for Google Inc., speaks during the Google I / O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, Calif., On Wednesday, June 25, 2014.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Google is tightening its privacy practices that could make it difficult for companies to track users on Android phones and tablets.
Google already allows Android users to deactivate personalized advertising. But even if users do, software developers can still access the user’s advertising ID, a unique string that identifies the user’s device. Companies can use this advertising ID, for example, to enable developers to measure app usage or to enable advertisers to identify and prevent invalid traffic.
After the change, the advertising ID will not be available if a user has disabled personalized ads – requests for it will only return a sequence of zeros.
The company announced in a policy update that its rollout will affect apps that run on Android 12 devices from late 2021 and will expand to apps that run on devices that support Google Play in early 2022 Cases like Analytics and Fraud Prevention “in July.
As regulators scrutinize user privacy and consumers become more concerned about how their personal information is used, tech giants are trying to move forward with changes in the name of privacy. Google announced in early 2020 that it would end support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser within two years.
However, since advertising accounts for around 80% of Google’s revenue, Google also needs to keep advertisers happy by providing alternative ways to get ads in front of the users they want to reach and track their effectiveness. The company has been the leader in online advertising for more than a decade and is expected to account for nearly 29% of global digital advertising spend in 2021, according to eMarketer.
Google’s changes will follow other changes Apple recently made to iOS devices, but aren’t as dramatic. Apple’s changes make it easy for iPhone and iPad users to opt out of the type of tracking that helps advertisers target ads or measure whether ads have worked by placing a prompt in front of them when they open a new app. Among other things, Facebook strongly opposed the changes, saying that users would see less relevant ads and that small businesses would be hurt if targeted advertising became more difficult.