Google getting ‘strict’ with ‘User Advertising ID’ for personalized ads: Opting out will send advertisers ‘string of zeroes’

Google Android Advertising ID
Google getting stricter about Ad Personalization? Pic credit: EpicTop10.com/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Google seems to be getting serious about user privacy and user data particularly meant for targeted advertising. In a sweeping change, smartphone users could soon easily and strictly deny access to their Advertising ID to advertisers.

Android 12 is already shaping up to be a big privacy-focused update. Apart from the extensive Setting Dashboard, the latest version of Android will also simplify the ability to opt out of personalized ads in Android applications.

Android 12 to make getting out of personalized ads simpler and more effective at the system level?

Google and Apple have Advertising IDs for each and every user of smartphones. The ID is unique to each user. Advertisers have long relied on the same to serve extremely targeted or customized advertising.

Apple Inc. recently launched iOS 14.5, which contains a system-level security prompt. It grants users the right to deny advertisers access to a tracking mechanism. While Google isn’t offering anything identical, its method could become equally effective at denying advertisers access to the unique Advertising ID.

Google Play services have offered Advertising ID to third-party developers. App creators can use the same to monetize their applications in a standard manner. Users can reset and generate a new ‘Identifier’ at any time.

Android smartphone users also have the option to “Opt out of Ads Personalization.” Opting out essentially tells “apps not to use your advertising ID to build profiles or show you personalized ads.”

In the upcoming Android 12 iteration, Google could make denying access to the Advertising ID even more effective:

Google has updated a document for developers that indicates Android smartphone users will have a simpler and more effective way to opt-out of personalized advertisements.

The update will not be a part of Android 12 when it releases as an update. Instead, the change could arrive through a small, incremental update at a later date.

The upcoming change will essentially ensure Android users who have enabled the new privacy preference will have a more effective and stringent opt-out over personalized ads.

Once users enable the setting, advertisers will not have any access to a personalized Advertising ID. Instead, third parties, app developers, or advertising agencies will merely receive a “string of zeroes.”

Google has indicated that it will inform or update developers when an end-user decides to opt out so the backend system can remove existing data on any user who doesn’t want personalized ads.

“To help developers and ad/analytics service providers with compliance efforts and respect user choice, they will be able to receive notifications for opt-out preferences. Additionally, apps targeting Android 12 will need to declare a Google Play services normal permission in the manifest file.”

This is a marked difference from earlier methods that sought to shield users from personalized advertisements. Until recently, applications still saw the Advertising ID.

Google claimed the visibility helped developers perform analytics and boost fraud prevention. Moving ahead, Google will reportedly share an alternative for those “essential use cases.”

The opt-out and ability to reset the Advertising ID is available from Settings app > Google > Ads. The new change should come into effect late this year.

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