Google reveals plans for targeted ad, privacy policy changes coming to Android

The company hinted at plans to increase consumer privacy without having the same level of impact similar changes within Apple's iOS have had on advertisers.
Written by Michael Gariffo, Staff Writer

Google revealed plans to bring sweeping changes to the way it handles user privacy and targeted advertising on its Android mobile device platform. 

The changes are apparently aimed at allowing users to have greater control over their privacy, without necessarily inducing the same level of disruption for advertisers that Apple's own policy changes have created.

Anthony Chavez, a vice president within Google's Android division told The New York Times that it was too early in the planning phases for the change in policy to gauge what exact impact it might have on ad revenues. However, he noted that Google's ultimate goal was, as The Times put it, "to find a more private option for users while also allowing developers to continue to make advertising revenue."

Facebook's parent company Meta recently claimed Apple's own decision to allow users to block targeted advertising from its platform would cost the company as much as $10 billion over the course of this year. 

As the NYT article notes, Google's reliance on online advertising for the majority of its revenue makes it unlikely it will instate anything as Draconian as Apple did. 

As for what it is planning, Google remained somewhat vague on a timeline and the specific policies in plans to enforce. It did, however, reveal that one of its primary goals would be to bring its Privacy Sandbox control scheme over from its Chrome desktop browser to the Android operating system. 

This privacy management measure ties in tightly with Google's recently-revealed Topics, a new solution to replace cookies with something Google claims will provide equal ad opportunities for companies, but an increased level of privacy for users, compared to current tracking technologies. Both Project Sandbox and Topics aim to help the company replace FLoC, its failed first attempt at replacing cookies which drew widespread rejection from major players across the web. 

The company also revealed that it plans to sunset Advertising ID, a major component of Android's ability to provide ad tracking by supplying advertisers with data on users' purchases and clicks, while also helping to determine their specific areas of interest. Google noted the phase-out would be gradual, with Advertising ID remaining in place for at least another two years. 

Meanwhile, the company plans to begin introducing potential replacements for Advertising ID soon, with the goal of releasing a full-fledged test version later this year.

Google noted to The Times that it planned to never provide its own ads with any preferential treatment within any new tracking system. The company has run afoul of regulators in the past for prioritizing its own services and platforms above others within the Android operating system. It would likely rather avoid adding to the millions of dollars in monetary penalties such regulatory scrutiny has caused it in the past.

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