Privacy Sandbox
Privacy Sandbox
The Privacy Sandbox is a groundbreaking initiative by Google designed to enhance privacy on the web and mobile by providing a set of open standards for digital advertising that do not rely on individual user tracking via GAID.

What is Privacy Sandbox? 

The Privacy Sandbox aims to create a secure environment for users by phasing out third-party cookies and reducing covert tracking mechanisms, all while still allowing advertisers and publishers to deliver targeted advertising and measure its effectiveness. It proposes a shift towards privacy-centric methods that aggregate user data, rather than tracking individuals via Google Advertising ID (GAID), to support personalized advertising needs without compromising user privacy.

Privacy Sandbox on Android vs. on Web

The distinction between Privacy Sandbox on Android and on the web underscores Google's comprehensive approach to enhancing privacy across all digital platforms. This differentiation is crucial for understanding the future of digital advertising and the balance between user privacy and ad personalization.

On the Web: The Privacy Sandbox's initiative on the web primarily addresses the challenge posed by the impending deprecation of third-party cookies. With the introduction of technologies like FLoC and other APIs designed for privacy-first advertising and analytics, Google aims to preserve the viability of ad-supported websites while significantly improving user privacy. This shift encourages advertisers and publishers to adopt new methods for targeting and measurement that do not rely on individual user tracking, focusing instead on aggregate and anonymized data.

On Android: The expansion of the Privacy Sandbox principles to Android reflects Google's recognition of the unique privacy challenges within the mobile ecosystem. Mobile devices, with their array of sensors and deeply integrated apps, present distinct opportunities for tracking user behavior. The initiative on Android is poised to redefine how apps collect and share data, aiming to limit the use of persistent Device IDs that track users across apps and websites. Instead, it will likely introduce mechanisms similar to those proposed for the web, which facilitates advertising and analytics in a way that respects user privacy. This could involve new APIs that enable interest-based advertising and conversion measurement without the need for granular user data.

New Trends and Insights

What is changing?

As mentioned above,  Google’s Privacy Sandbox project centers on two pillars across the web and apps on Android. Both are witnessing remarkable changes:

The most significant change on the web is the deprecation of third-party cookies. First of all, does that mean people will have fewer “cookies”, or cakes, to eat? Obviously NO, as cookies are data stored when users visit websites, with third-party cookies being those set by services other than the site's owner. These cookies have enabled advertisers to track users across browsers and tailor ads based on user searches, such as showing ads on social networks for products viewed on other sites. However, due to growing privacy concerns over tracking without user consent, there's a move to end third-party cookie support by 2024. On January 4, 2024, Google announced its plan to turn off third-party cookies for 1% of Chrome users, as part of a gradual phase-out aiming for full removal by the end of the year. 

At the same time, Android is limiting tracking through GAID, which was used as a user identifier, to build a safe web/ app environment. Although GAID has established a certain role in user tracking and performance evaluation, your business might suffer just a little from this change. Specifically, installs through Google Play Install Referrer will continue to be recorded. Additionally, deep link and web UTM parameters will remain accessible. Consequently, the cross-platform identifier (Airbridge ID) utilized by Airbridge for assessing attribution performance will still be operational.

What is Google’s advice?

Show relevant content and ads - Topics & Protected Audience API

In response to the digital advertising industry's need for innovative approaches amid significant shifts, Google intends to offer alternative solutions through the introduction of new APIs.

The Topics API enables the acquisition of new users by targeting ads based on users' recent interests within a browser or app, excluding sensitive information like gender and race. When invoked, it selects and shares three random topics, maintaining user anonymity by focusing on general interests without delving into detailed behavior. Furthermore, it empowers users with full control in viewing assigned topics, removing unwanted ones, or disabling the Topics API entirely. This approach balances user privacy protection with the need for personalized digital advertising.

The Protected Audience API enables remarketing to custom audiences with enhanced privacy, by storing audience data on users' devices instead of relying on external identifiers or cookies. Advertisers define interest groups and actions, adding users to audiences when actions are performed. Later visits to ad sites or apps trigger relevant ad bidding based on this data, kept on the device, making remarketing safer and preventing data leakage.

Measure digital ads - Attribution Reporting API

The Attribution Reporting API tracks views or clicks within web/apps, storing these touchpoints. If a conversion, like an app install or web purchase, follows, it records this event too. The API then links the conversion to the last ad interaction before the conversion, similar to traditional last-touch attribution, but all data processing occurs on the user's device or browser, enhancing privacy. It generates two report types: Event-level and Summary, both with intentional delays and added data noise to ensure user privacy. 

To get more information on what you should consider in the future regarding Google Privacy Sandbox, please refer to our blog.

Privacy Sandbox and Airbridge

As discussed, Airbridge can mitigate the impact of such changes to your business with equally effective tools like deep linking and UTM parameters, which are incorporated into the cross-platform Airbridge ID. Therefore, the process of collecting and attributing touchpoints is still ensured. 

Furthermore, as an App Attribution Partner (AAP) with Google, Airbridge is beta testing the Attribution Reporting API with the Google Ads team and evaluating Privacy Sandbox features. Airbridge is also adopting new attribution methods like Google's Google Click Identifier (GCLID) and gBraid, and Meta's Meta Install Referrer to improve user privacy. Additionally, as a Mobile Measurement Partner (MMP), Airbridge is exploring various strategies to meet industry needs.

If you don’t want to miss out on any chance to work with the latest solutions, give it a try to receive consultation and updated information with our Demo.

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