Google will review how ad tracking works on Android phones

Google will review how ad tracking works on Android phones

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SAN FRANCISCO — Google announced it will begin the process of removing long-standing ad trackers from its Android operating system, disrupting the operation of advertising and data collection on phones and tablets used by more than 2.5 billion people worldwide. .

Currently, Google assigns special identifiers to each Android device, which allows advertisers to create profiles of what people do on their phones and show them highly targeted ads. Google will begin testing alternatives to these identifiers this year and will eventually remove them entirely, the company said in a blog post on Wednesday.

Google said the changes will improve the privacy of Android users by limiting the massive amounts of data app developers collect from people who use the platform. But the move could also give Google even more power over digital advertising and is likely to deepen concerns regulators have already raised about the company’s competitive practices. Google is the world’s most dominant digital advertising company, owning many of the tools advertisers use to reach people online, as well as billions of dollars worth of ad space in search results and YouTube videos. . It brought in $61 billion in ad revenue in the fourth quarter of 2021 alone.

“Google is between a rock and a hard place,” said Ari Paparo, a longtime ad tech executive who ran adware company Beeswax before its 2020 sale to Comcast. Google must balance the demands of consumers, advertisers, privacy advocates and regulators all at the same time, he said.

Google is completely changing the way ads track people on the internet. This is what you need to know.

The intervening announcement plus a recent Apple started to block the trackers on their own exploitation system, which works on their iPhones, donnant aux clients plus d’utils pour limiter les données qu’ils partagent avec les dveloppeurs d ‘Applications. The move that sent shockwaves through the advertising world and led to Facebook, which makes much of its money on targeted mobile ads with data it collects from users. say the changes would cost it $10 billion in revenue this year. Google, which is less reliant on mobile data, was not as affected by the changes, and may even have benefited from advertisers shifting their money from Facebook to search ads and YouTube.

Google compared its plan to Apple’s and said it would make the changes over the next two years, working closely with app developers and the advertising industry to develop new ways to target ads to users and measure their effectiveness. before making drastic changes.

“We realize that other platforms have taken a different approach to ad privacy, completely limiting existing technologies used by developers and advertisers,” said Anthony Chavez, vice president of security and privacy product management at Android. “We believe that without first providing an alternative path to preserve privacy, such approaches may be ineffective and lead to worse outcomes for development companies and user privacy. »

Google went through a similar process with its Chrome web browser, for which it is working to get rid of third-party cookies, small pieces of code that are used to track people across the Internet and deliver targeted ads. This process has already been controversial, with Google extending its timeline after intense opposition from the advertising world. Last month, it abandoned its initial proposal to replace tracking cookies with a system that classifies Chrome users into affinity groups based on their data and allows advertisers to target those groups. Google now offers to assign each user various “topics” based on their browsing history, such as home decor or basketball, and allows advertisers to serve ads based on these descriptors.

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But big questions remain about exactly how the changes will be implemented across both web browsers and mobile phones. Privacy advocates say the changes don’t go far enough, with some arguing that all tracking should be blocked altogether. Web publishers, app developers and advertisers fear that a single company that already dominates the Internet is making changes to the way the web works for more than two decades, forcing everyone to adapt.

“Google’s two-year plan is too long. People deserve better privacy now,” said Marshall Erwin, chief security officer at Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox browser that began restricting ad tracking several years ago.

Regulators, who have stepped up their scrutiny of Big Tech in recent years, have previously raised concerns about changes to Google’s ad tracking. The UK competition authority recently reached a settlement with Google in which the company agreed to be more transparent about the changes it was making and give other companies more time to adjust to them.

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