Google’s Privacy Sandbox Announcement
Mobile Advertisers, Don’t Panic!
Google announced they are launching “a multi-year initiative to build the Privacy Sandbox on Android, with the goal of introducing new, more private advertising solutions.” In light of the devastating impact of Apple’s IDFA loss, this announcement could drive more fear into the hearts of mobile app developers and advertisers.
We are here to say: don’t panic.
Google’s stated goal is to provide a “clear path forward to improve user privacy without putting access to free content and services at risk.” Historically, Google has been vocal about supporting advertisers, especially as they develop new approaches to privacy. In their 2021 Q3 Earnings Call, Alphabet’s Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler addressed their commitment directly:
“So, from our standpoint, we see ATT (ph) is one aspect of the many broader ecosystem changes that are on the way, and we’ve been investing in privacy preserving technology for many years. Our focus is on supporting developers, small and large advertisers, creators’ publishers, so that they’re able to mitigate impact to their businesses. And we really see the future of digital advertising being built on advances and privacy preserving on device technologies which support the free and open Internet.”
This statement from Schindler stands in stark contrast to how Tim Cook addressed the feedback he’s “received from [Apple] advertisers and users and how it has also impacted search ads, your own ad business.”
The feedback from customers is overwhelmingly positive. Customers appreciate having the option of whether they want to be tracked or not. And so, there’s an outpouring of customer satisfaction there on the customer side. The reason that we did this is that — as you know, if you followed us for a while, we believe strongly that privacy is a basic human right and we believed that for decades. Not just in the last year or so. We’ve historically rolled out more and more features over time — to place the decision of whether to share data and what data to share in the hands of the user where we believe that it belongs. We don’t think that’s Apple’s role to decide, and we don’t think that’s another company’s role to decide. But rather the individual who owns the data itself. And so, that’s our motivation there. There’s no other motivation.
Cook described “customers” aligning with Apple users as if advertisers are not also Apple customers when asked about advertiser feedback. The omission of advertiser feedback is unfortunately consistent with their anti-industry and anti-developer practices, such as changing the entire iOS mobile app reporting and measurement system without any industry participation.
Ultimately, how well Google supports advertisers is critical to their success.
In their blog post, Google distances itself from Apple’s actions. They acknowledge “that other platforms have taken a different approach to ads privacy, bluntly restricting existing technologies used by developers and advertisers.” Google has committed to supporting “existing ads platform features for at least two years,” and has provided an opportunity for developers to review their initial design proposals and share feedback on the Android developer site. “Our goal with the Privacy Sandbox on Android is to develop effective and privacy-enhancing advertising solutions, where users know their information is protected, and developers and businesses have the tools to succeed on mobile”. We trust that the “businesses” they refer to here will include advertisers.
So don’t panic, review the plans, and provide your feedback!
Just as mobile advertisers survived IDFA loss, they can survive the Privacy Sandbox on Android.
Mobile app advertisers in 2022 are better prepared for the evolving advertising ecosystem than they were last year. We can now quantify the impact of IDFA loss and understand the iOS A/B testing implications and automated buying and privacy restrictions. Based on public comments, IDFA impact is generally being accepted as the new normal, with lower-level setting and -30% margin compression due to the complexity of targeting and measurement on iOS. Mobile app businesses are acclimating and many are growing within these new constraints.
Dependence on upper-funnel campaigns continues to increase. So, UA teams know they can no longer rely on the crutch of deterministic tracking to provide sustained financial performance. The deterioration of lookalike audiences and the black box of deeper funnel events means a user’s declared interests and contextual advertising are critically important for insights into user motivation and intent. Ad creative optimized to appeal to discreet personas is now the most efficient lever for sustained profitable user acquisition. Even without deterministic tracking, UA teams that understand their target personas can scale by attracting high-quality users.
Staying Ahead of Mobile App Advertising Developments
As the mobile advertising ecosystem has evolved, we have focused on being a reliable source of mobile app industry insights and trends. Our strategic analyses of IDFA loss and media buying automation, along with tactical guidance for user acquisition and creative teams, has helped advertisers remain profitable during an unprecedented era of change. In addition, our industry expertise has earned coverage from CNBC, Forbes, SeekingAlpha, Business Insider, VentureBeat, TechCrunch, Mobile Marketing Magazine, and many more.
This industry expertise comes from managing over $3.5 billion in creative and paid social spend for the world’s largest mobile apps and performance advertisers. Some of these advertisers include Glu, Roblox, Wooga, Zynga, and Skillz. Our proprietary full-stack marketing platform AdRules provides real-time business intelligence and creative research from 3.5 million video ads across social channels. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can help you stay ahead, no matter how the mobile advertising ecosystem evolves.