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What Google Privacy Sandbox on Android’s beta launch means for app marketers

In February 2022, Google announced its Privacy Sandbox on Android, and now, one year later, it’s started a gradual beta rollout to Android 13 devices. As an early tester of GPS, Adjust is thrilled to take the first step with Google in bettering user privacy while ensuring app marketers can still succeed in mobile advertising. Below, we cover the latest updates regarding this beta launch, explain Adjust’s role as an early tester of GPS, and answer your top four questions on the topic.

Reminder: What is the Google Privacy Sandbox?

At its core, Google’s Privacy Sandbox on Android is a multiyear initiative introducing new technology into the advertising ecosystem to strengthen user privacy while offering personalized ad experiences.

As human dependence on smartphone and app technology increases, so too does the concern around privacy. GPS seeks to address this concern by limiting the sharing of user data to third parties, devoid of cross-app identifiers, to better preserve user privacy on Android devices. At the same time, GPS will provide safer ways for app integration with an advertising software development kit (SDK), so that advertisers don’t lose out and apps are able to continue to provide users with free content and services.

Anthony Chavez, VP of Sandbox, says, “The Privacy Sandbox on Android is an important part of our mission to raise the bar for user privacy, while giving developers and businesses the tools they need to succeed on mobile.”

The GPS beta launch explained


The upcoming impact of the changes brought about by GPS to the mobile advertising industry will be tremendous. Mindful of this, Google readily adopted a collaborative approach by inviting feedback on its API design proposals from app developers and ad tech platforms from across the industry. Google reviewed and incorporated much of this feedback into its designs before launching its beta program.

Beta launch

Both users and app publishers can now opt-in to participate in the GPS beta launch. With this beta launch, Google released its privacy-preserving APIs to a small percentage of Android devices that have updated to Android 13 and have opted-in to participate.

This opt-in choice is depicted in the left screenshot below, and the one on the right showcases how users can block apps from showing relevant ads based on interests estimated by Android, thereby providing greater transparency in user data but allowing advertisers greater reach for opted-in users.

Top 4 FAQ about GPS answered

1. How does Google Privacy Sandbox differ from SKAN?

Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework along with its attribution solution SKAdNetwork, now up to SKAN 4, and GPS are responses to continued demands for increased user- and data-privacy. Both will affect the methods by which app marketers track and measure the success of their ads.

However, GPS differs from SKAN  in the following ways:

1. The scope is larger

With Android smartphones making up 71.8% of the mobile operating systems market and iOS accounting for almost 27.6%, the changes in Android software will be felt more broadly as most Android devices support Google Play. It’s likely that GPS will require more consideration due to the greater number of factors involved.

2. Earlier postbacks

While both SKAN and GPS send three postbacks, the ones from GPS are sent earlier. The exact timeline is still being finalized by Google.

3. Event report comes from Google

With SKAN, the data on when the event and attribution window was triggered are received from the network, but with GPS, this data will be received from Google. Read more about the event-level reports here. GPS will also provide more precise data in the form of aggregatable reports.

2. How can mobile apps participate in the beta launch?

Mobile apps can participate in the beta program by requesting access to a limited number of devices and registering their app to utilize the Privacy Sandbox APIs. Google plans to have several beta releases during 2023, through which apps can build and test solutions for the selected Android 13 devices and use the new APIs to show opted-in users relevant ads and measure their effectiveness. Similar to SKAN, early adopters will benefit by familiarizing themselves with GPS before it becomes the industry standard.

3. Can SANS claim conversions based on Google Play Referrer?

Yes, Google has not announced plans to depreciate Google Play Referrer, so SANs can still use it to claim conversions.

4. How will SAN attribution work in the near future?

Reliance on the Google Advertising ID (GAID) will be reduced once Privacy Sandbox on Android is adopted. Any significant reduction in use is unlikely to occur before the end of 2024. Then, GPS with its SDK runtime and privacy-preserving APIs will be the standard for SAN attribution. Check out Android’s overview on cross-network attributions without redirects.

Adjust and GPS beta launch

Taking part in the GPS beta launch as an early tester is an opportunity for Adjust to affect change that evolves advertising solutions to retrieve excellent insights for advertisers while enhancing user privacy. We are confident this is the right direction forward, which is why we are honored to collaborate with Google in this initiative.

Adjust has long been a leader in guiding app marketers through privacy changes, as you can see from our SKAN iOS 14.5+ resources, from our Playbook with TikTok on finding success on iOS to developing our SDK for SKAN 4. We will continue to guide app marketers across changes on Android in the same way. Currently, we’re testing Google’s changes as it pertains to our SDK and look forward to testing these changes with some of our clients soon.

So, if you’re looking for a mobile analytics platform that’s actively shaping next-generation mobile measurement solutions that are privacy-first, look no further than Adjust. Learn how we can help your app grow with our streamlined analytics by requesting a demo.

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