Google’s New Advertising ID: Is it Good News for Mobile App Developers?

by / Monday, 05 May 2014 / Published in Airpush Mobile Advertising Blog

New app development has surged in recent years as app developers have come to realize that monetizing apps with mobile advertising is a viable way to real and reliable revenue streams. As mobile ads become more relevant and targeted – something made possible through advanced user data – developer paydays and advertiser payoffs are trending higher.

In order to better track users and monitor the cash that in-app advertising generates, unique identifiers were developed for use on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, something that has inflamed privacy issues with many consumers.In response to growing privacy fears, Google recently announced their new Advertising ID.

Advertising ID will allow advertisers to track users across all Android apps using an anonymous, unique identifier, something that tows the line between growing consumer privacy concerns and the requirements of advertisers to be able to track their advertising more precisely.

The new Advertising ID, similar to Apple’s IDFA introduced last year (and now compulsory for all iOS apps), will be used to track advertising and gather analytical information about users, but with one major difference; it can be turned off.

In effect, Advertising ID gives control back to millions of Android users around the world when it comes to the ads they want to receive on their devices. It can be reset any time the user feels the need by simply clicking Ads in Google Settings, and offers the user the ability to opt out of ad networks that build user “data profiles” in order to better target their interest-based advertising. It can be compared to the ubiquitous “cookie” that’s been used for years on computers for tracking purposes, but with one mammoth difference – it’s global. Where cookies can only be accessed from the original website where they were created, Advertising ID will be the same across all apps located on the same device.

Advertiser ID FAQ:

Is there actually a need for a unique identifier?

Frankly, yes. Over the last decade, advertising networks have been focused on delivering their ads to specific users at a specific time and place. In order to do this they’ve built sophisticated tools to gauge campaign as precisely as possible, spend their budgets prudently and protect their users by providing advertising that doesn’t interrupt their app experience. This is vital to the success of any advertising campaign.

Another reason that unique identifiers are needed is financial. Without them, accurately attributing monetary funds to affiliates would be difficult. App developers earn money by hosting advertising and also by cross promoting other apps. In order to get paid for all of this activity, they need a tracking system that allows them to precisely track the process from beginning to end. Unique identifiers allow them to do just that.

Why should app developers care about these new changes?

In the past, an Android user had very little control when it came to changing identifiers that advertising agencies used to track their data. Aside from resetting an Android device to factory settings there was no way to change them and also no way to opt out of being anonymously tracked. Advertisers took advantage of this fact with persistent identifiers like the Android ID and used them to build user profiles. In the wake of Google’s Advertising ID and Apple’s IDFA, however, that reality is about to change.

Since Google is requiring that all new apps as well as all new updates must have the new Advertising ID after August 1 of this year, all app developers will be required to follow the new guidelines. The new Advertising ID will be a widely supported standard that cuts down on the need for unnecessary code development, but it will also mean  that advertisers will no longer be “running the show” when it comes to their in-app ads.

For Android users it’s a step in the right direction as far as privacy is concerned because it gives them control that some have wanted with an easy way to opt out.

It remains to be seen, however, just how strict Google will be when enforcing their new policy, how far they will go to encourage its adoption in the marketplace as a whole, and, most importantly, what advertisers and app developers will come up with in the future in order to make sure that mobile users still see their ads.