Privacy Sandbox is coming to Android: what does that mean for you in LATAM?

GENERAL UPDATE
February 16, 2022
Santi Darmandrail

What was expected to happen has finally happened, and Google has officially announced that Privacy Sandbox is coming to Android as well as Chrome. 

In its announcement, Google tries to differentiate itself from Apple's approach (without outright calling them out) by saying that this change will happen as part of a multi-year initiative and that "other platforms have taken a different approach (...) bluntly restricting existing technologies".

So what does this mean? The original post isn't too specific on details, but we know a few things for (almost) sure:

  • Support for existing advertising features like the Android Advertising ID will continue for at least two years.
  • External SDKs installed inside apps on Android will eventually run on something called SDK Runtime, which will be available from Android 13 onwards.
  • Topics (descendant to FLoCs) will provide "interest signals" to the advertising world through which apps are installed on the user's device.
  • FLEDGE is coming to Android as well, providing an abstraction layer which strips personal information from a user and allows an app developer to build and target audiences based on past interactions with their app.
  • Attribution within Android to happen through a new Attribution API, instead of by exposing the Android Advertising ID.

Overall we agree with Google on two fronts:

  1. Blunt restrictions (like Apple's) on what can and can't be shared into the bid stream is bad for everyone including the users and the "90% of apps which are free and rely on advertising to exist".
  2. The current design of Advertising IDs isn't ideal, and a more privacy friendly form of advertising must exist moving forward.

In its introductory documentation for Developers we get a bit more detail on how these technologies work. What we don't know yet is whether Google will (or, like Apple, won't) allow developers to use first party user IDs to optimize ads within their own worlds. Good news is that these haven't been ruled out, and if Google were to follow its own lead from Chrome and Ad Manager then they would support them.

If this means that many companies that today game app developers and abuse user privacy go extinct, we welcome it. At Retargetly we have been working on solutions for a first party user ID world for almost two years now, and we believe that IDx is the perfect solution for app developers to adopt and complement the Advertising APIs that Android will be offering. 

As a summary of what we believe this means for everyone that today relies on Android apps as their primary way to collect and harness user data:

  • SDK Runtime will make it harder for Advertising SDKs to access certain categories of data from a user's device like for example location data or which other apps the user has installed on it device.
  • Campaigns that wish to measure performance on an app install basis will need to eventually adopt the Attribution API either directly or (most likely) through an Attribution partner.
  • Android Advertising IDs are currently used to export data from mobile environments and onboard them into external platforms like Facebook or YouTube. This will become significantly harder to do.
  • In general, delivering and serving ad campaigns based on first party data onboarded through Android Advertising IDs will be harder.
  • We expect permissions that allow apps to know which other apps a user has on its device will be stripped entirely (something that already happens in iOS) and replaced with Topics.

All of these impacts we will see in some time, and aren't short term concerns as of right now. We will continue to monitor the announcements though, and summarize what that means.

Just like with the Chrome announcement, we have a good amount of time to prepare and understand what the new rules of the game mean. As the leaders in ad identity and audience management in LATAM, we are confident that the market will continue to adopt more and more data-driven technologies and solutions. These advances can only be achieved in a way that respects user privacy, and local regulations.

We look forward to bringing IDx to Android, and working with partners and advertisers across LATAM to make a privacy-first advertising ecosystem a reality.