Google recently announced its plans to discontinue the practice of tracking users on Android smartphones and tablets. The move comes as increasingly savvy users move away from platforms and apps that collect their data — sometimes covertly.
Google’s latest move comes on the heels of a similar initiative that was introduced by Apple in 2021. These new privacy restrictions are specifically related to user data that is collected for the purpose of more targeted advertising. Privacy concerns abound, this data is often collected in a discreet, covert manner without the user’s knowledge and consent.
Facebook has also admitted to collecting user data covertly by “layering” their code into thousands upon thousands of app installs. The intention is to track consumer behaviors so insights can be leveraged to achieve more targeted advertising, among other things.
Privacy, Tracking and Google Play
What has Google and Apple taking such drastic actions? The cross-app tracking gives advertisers a fair amount of information about users. They can essentially follow users from one app to the next on their smartphones, allowing for the derivation of lots of user information which can then be used for ad targeting.
Apple has already eliminated the ability to perform cross-app monitoring on its devices. This has stymied companies such as Facebook, which can no longer serve up targeted ads to iPhone users. The impact on advertising is expected to expand because Google has announced that it is planning to implement similar changes on its Chrome browser.
The User Privacy Movement and its Impact on Mobile Apps, Advertisements and Beyond
Google Play’s ban on cross-app tracking practices reinforces a movement that has been gaining momentum for over a decade. Users have been placing greater emphasis on privacy as the digital advertising industry has grappled with a major challenge: how to target users without being intrusive or compromising a user’s privacy.
The ad targeting trend is difficult to ignore. You may notice that you visit a website, query a brand name or click on a product and suddenly you are confronted by that item everywhere you look. You find that every advertisement and sponsored post is related to that company, product, brand or keyword. That is data mining at its best. And that is the exact type of user data that is at the core of Google’s latest privacy changes.
To limit the “potential for covert data collection,” Android apps are no longer permitted to profile users’ online activity. In fact, Google recently announced “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….In order to ensure a healthy app ecosystem — benefiting users, developers and businesses — the industry must continue to evolve how digital advertising works to improve user privacy.”
Google Play previously rolled out advertising IDs as an effort to improve user control over their privacy settings. With the generated ID, users can opt out of viewing personalized ads in the Google Play apps. This also benefits developers, making it easier to comply with regulations and improving the dynamic with users by respecting their privacy preferences.
Privacy is an increasingly important part of the development landscape, so you need a development partner that is well-versed on this topic. At 7T, we understand the privacy concerns facing clients in a variety of business sectors, including finance, healthcare, network marketing and beyond. We’re well-positioned to develop software solutions to meet your needs, while maintaining privacy and security.