27 May Get Ready: New Android Privacy Initiatives are Coming
App developers continue the delicate act between user protections and effective digital advertising, as Google rolls out new privacy initiatives for Android phones this spring. It’s a slow roll with Google’s multi-year approach to implementing Privacy Sandbox on Android mobile devices, which is already in place for web browsers.
As previously shared by Threadgill, browsers are going cookieless and Apple’s iOS 14 updates allow iPhone users to opt out of any tracking by apps. Now Google is following suit for Android users. Developers and advertisers were historically gathering device-specific data from both Apple and Android. Ads were targeted based on the user’s activity on their phone, including cross-app information, location, browser use, and more.
Privacy Sandbox for Android
What’s the Same?
Initially, the existing Google Advertisting ID will remain for the next two years while new Privacy Sandbox features are implemented and tested. All current tracking methods will be available to third parties.
Ad platforms currently use device identifiers for three main purposes:
- Audience targeting — Data is collected from the device, across apps to deliver ads based on demographics, behavior, and interests.
- Retargeting — Identifying users results in ads based on specific actions, such as leaving something in your online cart at a pet store, resulting in a dog-related ad showing up alongside a YouTube video or your search browser.
- Attribution — When a user views or clicks an ad or makes a purchase via mobile, the device identifier is stored. Marketers can then direct more resources to ads to that user that previously resulted in purchases.
Google’s announcement was a little, ahem, pointed at Apple’s seemingly abrupt privacy changes in recent years: “We realize that other platforms have taken a different approach to ads privacy, bluntly restricting existing technologies used by developers and advertisers.” Google’s goal for gradual implementation is “to develop effective and privacy enhancing advertising solutions, where users know their information is protected, and developers and businesses have the tools to succeed on mobile.”
The new Android privacy initiatives remove device identifiers that are stored and tracked for advertising, limiting the amount of data shared with third parties and cross-app identifiers.
Devices with the latest version of Android 12 will reflect the following privacy updates (per Android Developers Blog):
- Privacy Dashboard — A new dashboard in Settings gives users better visibility over when your app accesses microphone, camera, and location data.
- Approximate location — Users have even more control over their location data, and they can grant your app access to approximate location even if it requests precise location.
- Microphone and camera indicators — Indicators in the status bar let users know when your app is using the device camera or microphone.
- Microphone and camera toggles — On supported devices, new toggles in Quick Settings make it easy for users to instantly disable app access to the microphone and camera.
- Nearby device permissions — Your app can use new permissions to scan for and pair with nearby devices without needing location permission.
In a nutshell? Google’s hoping to offer a more visible user-friendly privacy interface that allows users to limit access to device activity.
Adapting Your Android Marketing
Don’t panic! During testing mode, the current tools are still available. Plus many of the Privacy Sandbox tools are already in the trial phase for Chrome as they roll out the mobile version.
“It’s the same song, just louder and more percussive,” says Mat Threadgill. “It’s becoming increasingly important to secure first-party data and build trustworthy customer relationships with valuable interactions.”
Companies can build trust by complying with privacy standards and providing value through:
- Creating solid web copy, email campaigns, ad copy, and app interactions.
- Investing in cross-channel marketing by creating an overarching, cohesive message across all mediums (ads, website, social media, email communication).
- Learning the new Privacy Dashboard and testing how your site or app interacts.
- Using Privacy Sandbox tools effectively like Topics API for interest-based targeting, FLEDGE for custom audience retargeting, and Attribution Reporting.
Android holds about 71% of the global market in the mobile operating market share, so it’s wise to take notice. Be aware of coming updates and pivot your marketing plans accordingly. Contact The Threadgill Agency to help you develop a solid strategy to successfully ride the next wave of privacy changes.