Itâ€™s going to get harder for Android apps to track users whoâ€™ve opted out of receiving personalized ads, the Financial Times reports, after Google announced changes to how itâ€™ll handle the unique device identifiers that allow marketers to track them between apps. Starting later this year, Google is cutting off access to these â€śAdvertising IDsâ€ť after a user opts out, and will show developers a â€śstring of zerosâ€ť in its place.
The news was announced in an email to Play Store developers, and Google has also updated its support page for Advertising IDs with the announcement. Google told developers the changes will â€śprovide users with more control over their data, and help bolster security and privacy,â€ť the Financial Times reports.
The change comes a few short months after Apple overhauled how advertising IDs work on iOS in an apparent attempt to compete with the new policy. Recently, Google also announced that itâ€™s adding privacy info to its Play Store listings, mirroring a similar feature Apple added to its App Store last year, and is also limiting which apps can see what you have installed on your phone.
The changes will start rolling out later this year
Users have long been able to opt out of personalized ads on Android (you can do so by heading into the Settings app, going into the Google menu, and selecting â€śAdsâ€ť), but it seems this doesnâ€™t currently stop developers from being able to access your deviceâ€™s advertising ID entirely. AdExchanger reports that apps have previously been able to use the identifier for non-advertising purposes like analytics and fraud prevention, and Googleâ€™s support page says it will announce an â€śalternate solutionâ€ť for these use cases next month.
Googleâ€™s support page says that the rollout of the new policy will happen in phases. Android 12 devices will start seeing the change in â€ślate 2021,â€ť before it rolls out to all devices with Google Play early next year. XDA Developers reports that Google Play Services will also notify existing apps with access to your advertising ID and related data, so that this can be deleted where appropriate.
Although Googleâ€™s announcement follows hot on the heels of Appleâ€™s own ad tracking changes, itâ€™s not yet clear how similar the two approaches will be. Googleâ€™s support page still refers to the decision to stop ad tracking as an â€śopt outâ€ť process, while Appleâ€™s changes effectively make tracking an opt-in decision. But regardless of how Google eventually handles the process, itâ€™s another potentially huge shake-up for the digital advertising industry.