Google is trying to replace the browser cookie with new methods of targeted advertising in Chrome and beyond. To that end, it created Android Privacy Sandbox and launched it in April 2022. Today, Google is rolling out the third iteration of Privacy Sandbox Developer Preview 3. The new sandbox is primarily related to ad campaign conversion tracking.
The new Developer Preview includes APIs for conversion tracking. Basically, when a developer releases an ad, a few interactions may occur. The ad can be skipped or selected. If selected, the user can then take action or not by purchasing a product, downloading an app, signing up for a newsletter, or whatever behavior is desired. These conversions help developers decide which ad campaigns are effective.
This release includes everything a developer needs to track these conversions, including a developer’s guide and sample apps. The release also makes testing easier by allowing a developer to override reporting time windows.
Privacy Sandbox puts privacy first
Privacy has become a bigger concern for end users. Research from Pew indicated that 72% of users believe almost everything they do online is tracked and 81% say the risks associated with this outweigh the benefits. Specifically, the scary factor increases when someone searches for surf spots in Hawaii and then finds Facebook ads for surfboards.
To mitigate this, Google wants to strike a balance between protecting user privacy and allowing advertisers to serve personalized ads. Google uses FLEDGE (First Locally Executed Decisions over Groups Experiment) to allow developers to serve personalized ads without sharing data with third parties. Google initially provided an overview video for all of this.
All told, this is a bold but necessary experiment by Google to push online ads further towards protecting user privacy, while trying to satisfy advertisers’ demands. But the big question is whether, from the user’s perspective, there will be enough of a difference for users to recognize that their privacy is actually being protected.
It bears repeating that there is nothing for end users here. It’s just for developers. But if you want to see what’s new in Android 13, you can download and install the Android 13 beta, with all the usual “don’t install it on your everyday phone” disclaimers.