On February 16, 2022, Google announced plans to extend Privacy Sandbox to Android and sunset the Google Advertising ID (GAID) as a cross-app user identifier within the next two years.
Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative overall is not new; it was originally launched with a focus on protecting user privacy in the Chrome/web environment. The recent announcement expanded the scope of Privacy Sandbox to include the Android in-app environment.
While the main catalyst behind both initiatives is similar, i.e. user privacy, Google’s objectives seem to be more balanced. They want to not only improve user privacy but also ensure “developers and businesses have the tools to succeed on mobile” and thereby “keep online content and services free for all.”
Understanding Privacy Sandbox on Android
Privacy Sandbox on Android includes four key components or “design proposals”:
- SDK Runtime, to more safely integrate third party SDKs into apps.
- Topics API, to enable interest-based advertising without relying on user-level identifiers.
- Fledge API, to enable retargeting and customized ads based on previous app behavior, without sharing data with third parties.
- Attribution API, to measure performance and optimize without sharing user-level information.
Android Privacy Sandbox Timeline
Screenshot from Privacy Sandbox on Android website, February 16, 2022
With this recent announcement, the Android Privacy Sandbox design proposals are now available for review, but nothing will be available for testing until later in 2022. And Google has clearly stated there will be no material changes to existing capabilities for GAID for at least two years and would provide substantial notice ahead of any possible future changes.
What Do Advertisers Need to Do?
While this is certainly a big announcement, given the two-year timeline, there’s little you can do right now beyond reading the design proposals or trying to get involved in collaboration forums with Google or others in the industry.
For InMobi advertising clients, nothing has changed for now with respect to Android campaigns. We will continue to use GAID as long as it’s available while simultaneously preparing for a privacy-first world.
What Do App Developers and Publishers Need to Do?
It is important to keep in mind that the ecosystem will have two years to get ready for the current proposals, and that mobile app community is encouraged to provide feedback to help improve them. While there are still a few unknowns and things are still subject to change, the Privacy Sandbox’s proposed solutions for publishers will be SDK Runtime – a safer way to define permissions and data access for third-party SDK and is planned to be released with Android 13.
We encourage developers to reach out to Google and their ad tech partners to provide feedback on the SDK Runtime design and possible use cases.
Android Privacy Sandbox builds on the recent privacy updates for publishers announced by Google related to the restricted access of GAID when users opt-out from personalized ads through an anonymized value and the roll-out of the Data safety section in Google Play which requires developers to disclose data collection practices to users before they can download their app. Both updates will be enforced starting April 2022 so publishers should prioritize these first.
Overall, we are glad to see Google taking a thoughtful and balanced approach, presumably learning from Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency (ATT). Given the two-year timeline, we expect things will evolve as the rest of the industry weighs in on Google’s proposals and beta testing begins.
InMobi has multiple teams digging into the details of Android Privacy Sandbox, and we plan to work closely with Google, our partners, our clients and the rest of the industry to ensure we are ready for the changes when they are ultimately implemented, just as we did with Apple’s ATT, which had a significantly more compressed timeline.
For more information as it comes available and to stay in touch, you can reach out to InMobi’s mobile experts at any time at https://www.inmobi.com/company/contact.