Google announced this week that it would begin the process of getting rid of ad trackers on its Android operating system. The announcement signals a significant change in how advertising and data collection work on Android phones and tablets used by more than 2.5 billion people.
Currently, Google assigns unique IDs to each Android device. This allows advertisers to build user activity profiles from mobile devices in order to serve them highly targeted ads. This year, Google will begin testing alternatives to those IDs and eventually remove them altogether.
“Today, we’re announcing a multi-year initiative to build the Privacy Sandbox on Android, with the goal of introducing new, more private advertising solutions. Specifically, these solutions will limit sharing of user data with third parties and operate without cross-app identifiers, including advertising ID,” Anthony Chavez, a VP from product management on the Android Security and Privacy team, shared in the post.
Google said the changes would improve privacy for Android users. The change is focused on limiting the massive amounts of data that app developers collect from people using Google’s platform. However, the move will give Google even more power over digital advertising — a result that might worsen concerns regulators have already voiced about the company’s competitive practices.
Google is the most dominant global digital advertising company. The parent corporation Alphabet owns many of the most prominent tools advertisers use to reach people online. The largest of those assets is YouTube, which made $61 billion in advertising revenue in the fourth quarter of 2021 alone.
Google’s announcement comes about one year after Apple began blocking trackers on its iOS operating system, which runs its iPhones. The tech giant started giving customers more tools to limit the data they share with developers. The move created a wave of concern through the ad world and led Facebook to claim the changes would cost it $10 billion in revenue this year.
Google wasn’t as impacted by the changes. It seems that they may even have benefited from advertisers moving their money from Facebook to search engine and YouTube ads.
Google has been leading a similar change with its Chrome web browser. The company has been focused on removing third-party cookies, the small section of computer code used to track people’s use of the Internet and generate targeted ads.