Internet advertising mechanisms and tricks that advertisers use to track your website visits have already been discussed. But websites do not constitute the entirety of your virtual life. Mobile applications are very likely to be a good portion of your time, and, like websites, they make money from ads. Learn How advertisers learn which Android apps you use.
Mobile apps use information about your device to deliver customized ads to gather as much information on you as possible – even information that Google is forbidden from using.
How does your Android device help you locate it?
How can apps provide advertising networks with information about your smartphone? The first thing to do is to install them. These apps give the advertising network the data concerning your interests and what types of ads are most likely to pique your interest. Take pictures with your phone and use Instagram and Snapchat for instant gratification. If you take a lot of selfies, you might appreciate apps that offer image filters and effects.
To ensure the suitable device is being targeted, advertising networks use identifiers. There are several of these identifiers on every Android smartphone and tablet – and none of them are intended to assist advertisers.
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The theory behind advertising ID
Google introduced dedicated advertising IDs in 2013 to achieve a compromise between Android users and the advertising industry. Users must reset their ID through Settings * Google * Ads * Reset advertising ID from Google Play, assigning the ID to them. Ad networks can track the habits and interests of device users with the help of this identifier on the one hand. On the other hand, if you do not want advertisers tracking your activities, you can change your ID.
Advertiser ID – the truth
Researchers Serge Egelman estimate that 70% of Google Play apps use at least one additional identifier without notifying users. Millions of people have downloaded 3D Bowling, Clean Master, and CamScanner.
These devices typically use Android IDs, but serial numbers, IMEIs, and MAC addresses are helpful. Several identifiers are sent by some apps simultaneously to their partner networks. A game called 3D Bowling, for example, uses the advertising ID, the IMEI, and the Android ID.
Fight invasive advertising
There is no doubt that Google has taken steps to prevent ID abuse. So, beginning with Android Oreo, every app will have an Android ID. For advertising networks that depend on this ID instead of the advertising ID, your Instagram may appear to be installed on one device and your Snapchat on another, making accurate targeting impossible.
However, IMEIs, serial numbers, and MAC addresses cannot receive such protection. The market is full of smartphones and tablets that run older versions of Android and will never get updated to Android Oreo. We, therefore, advise restricting data collection through app management.