Google said on Wednesday it was working on privacy measures designed to limit the sharing of data on smartphones with its Android software. But the company promised those changes wouldn’t be as disruptive as a similar move by Apple last year.
Apple’s changes to its iOS software on iPhones asked users for permission before advertisers could track them. Apple’s consent checks — and ultimately users’ decision to block tracking — have had a profound impact on Internet businesses that have built businesses on so-called targeted advertising.
Google didn’t provide an exact timeline for the changes, but said it would support existing technologies for at least another two years.
This month, Meta, the company founded as Facebook, said Apple’s privacy changes would cost $10 billion in lost ad revenue this year. The disclosure weighed on Meta’s stock price and sparked concerns about other companies that depended on digital advertising.
Anthony Chavez, a vice president in Google’s Android division, said in an interview before the announcement that it was too early to gauge the potential impact of Google’s changes, which aim to reduce data sharing between apps and with third parties. But he stressed that the company’s goal was to find a more private option for users while also allowing developers to continue making ad revenue.
As the world’s two largest suppliers of smartphone software, Google and Apple have a lot of influence over what mobile apps can do on billions of devices. Changes to increase privacy or give users more control over their data – a growing demand from customers, regulators and politicians – will impose costs on companies that collect data to sell ads tailored to the interests and demographics of an user.
The changes from Google and Apple are significant as digital advertising based on the accumulation of data about users has supported the Internet for the past 20 years. But that business model faces more challenges, as users have grown suspicious of far-reaching data collection amid a general distrust of tech giants.
The difference in approach between Apple and Google also says how each company makes most of its money. Apple gets most of its revenue from device sales, while Google makes most of its money from selling digital ads and may be more open to advertisers’ needs.
Google said it plans to bring its Project Sandbox privacy initiative, which was primarily limited to reducing tracking in the company’s Chrome browser, to Android, the world’s most widely used software for mobile devices. Google has been forced to revamp its approach to removing so-called cookies, a tracking tool, in Chrome, amid resistance from privacy groups and advertisers.
Google said it proposed a number of new privacy-focused approaches in Android to allow advertisers to measure ad campaign performance and show personalized ads based on past behavior or recent interests, as well as new tools to limit covert tracking via apps. . Google didn’t offer much detail about how these new alternatives would work.
As part of the changes, Google said, it plans to phase out Advertising ID, a tracking feature within Android that helps advertisers know whether users clicked on an ad or purchased a product, and track their interests and activities in the market. to keep an eye on. Google said it has already allowed users to opt out of personalized ads by removing the tracking ID.
The company said it plans to eliminate identifiers used in ads on Android for everyone, including Google. Mr Chavez said Google’s own apps wouldn’t have special or privileged access to Android data or features without specifying how that would work. This reflects a promise Google made to regulators in the UK that it would not give preferential treatment to its own products.
The company did not offer a definitive timeline for eliminating Advertising ID, but promised to run the existing system for two years. Google said it would offer preview versions of its new proposals to advertisers before releasing a more complete test version this year.