Search giant and mobile ad provider Google is preparing to offer behaviorally targeted ads across its network of iOS and Android applications, as well as the ability to more accurately track conversions from handsets running on those platforms.
Individual mobile handsets possess unique ID numbers, or "device identifiers," to which Google plans on tying users' in-app behavior for the benefit of advertisers. To date, the company has refrained from making use of device IDs for ad purposes, perhaps owing to privacy concerns, but numerous competing firms already make use of the practice.
"Over time, we'll be able to enable things like frequency capping, spam filtration, improved conversion measurement and serving ads based on topics of interest, all of which will help us display the most useful in-app ads; minimize the number of irrelevant in-app ads shown; and improve in-app advertising for users, advertisers and developers," a Google spokesperson told ClickZ.
According to Google, ID tracking is orchestrated anonymously, and no personally identifiable information can possibly be collected via the process. "Because the device identifier is static and generally cannot be changed, we protect your privacy by associating your device identifier with an anonymous ID," states Google within its ads preferences section.
The company is also offering users the ability to opt out of having their data collected if they wish, settings for which can be found in the Google search app for iOS devices, or in "Android Market" settings for Android devices.
From an advertiser perspective, meanwhile, ID-related data collection enables the tracking and optimization of mobile ad campaigns, including functionalities considered basic in the world of desktop online advertising such as frequency capping and broad demographic targeting.
In the online space, those features are achieved through the placement of unique identification numbers on users' machines via the utilization of cookies. Mobile applications, however, run outside of the browser environment, hence the necessity to tie data to device IDs instead.
"The anonymous ID is used to support our advertising services," Google's preferences explain, adding that the data associated with IDs may be used to show "relevant ads based on interests on mobile applications."
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Jack Marshall was a staff writer and stats editor for ClickZ News from 2007 until August 2011.
March 19, 2014