Getting access to information about users who choose not to receive personalized ads is going to be harder for Android apps after Google announced changes to how it handles unique device identifiers.
Toward the end of the year, Google will no longer accept advertising IDs from users who opt-out and will display developers with a string of zeros as a replacement.
Play Store developers were notified of this in an email message, and Google updated its Ad ID support page as well.
The update would give users more control over their data and help ensure their privacy and security, Google told developers, citing the Financial Times.
As part of its apparent effort to compete with the new advertising policy, Apple revamped the way advertising IDs work on iOS a few months ago.
A little while ago, Google announced that its Play Store listings would add privacy information, mirroring what Apple added to its App Store last year; it would also restrict which apps can see the apps you have on your phone.
Unless you set the Ads option in Settings, you won’t see personalized ads on Android (go to the Google menu and select “Ads”), but it appears that your device’s advertising ID is accessible to developers even if you turn off personalized advertisements.
According to AdExchanger, Google will announce an alternative solution to problems like analytics and fraud prevention next month, since apps previously kept the identifier to use it for non-advertising purposes.
The rollout of Google’s new policy is scheduled to happen in phases, according to its support page. The change will begin rolling out to Android 12 devices late this year before it rolls out to all devices with Google Play early next year.
There is also a report from XDA Developers that Google Play Services will notify apps that access your advertising ID and related data so this can be deleted if it is not needed.
It isn’t yet clear how similar Google’s and Apple’s approaches are going to be despite the announcement following Apple’s own ad tracking updates.
Apple’s changes in this regard make tracking an opt-in decision as opposed to what Google calls an “opt-out” decision.
The digital advertising industry could soon be shaken up again, regardless of how Google addresses the issue.