We hope you enjoy our brief snippet of intriguing stories from the world of User Acquisition, Mobile Marketing, and Mobile Gaming. 

Google To Follow in Apple’s Footsteps? Android Users Free to Opt-Out of Ads Tracking

Murmurings of Apple planning to give users the option to opt-out of providing their IDFA started to circulate close to 2 years ago, in what seemed to be a never-ending journey of anticipation before the official release of iOS14.5. Fears have been growing that Google will follow suit with changes to privacy now fully expected to take effect within the next Google Play Services update which is anticipated to launch in late 2021, impacting all apps running on Android 12 devices & affecting all devices which support Google Play from early 2022. 

The dust still hasn’t settled after the iOS update in April, with publishers & advertisers still unsure of the full impact, and adoption rates slowly picking up. The amendments to Google’s privacy controls for their users are similar, though the actual implementation is expected to be less destructive for advertisers given Google’s extensive experience in the space. For starters, Google’s approach to obtaining permissions will differ slightly, Android users will receive notifications for opt-out preferences, rather than pop-up messaging, which may lead to differing opt-out rates.

In a statement from Google Play, they stated “To help developers and ad/analytics service providers with compliance efforts and respect user choice, they will be able to receive notifications for opt-out preferences. Additionally, apps targeting Android 12 will need to declare a Google Play services normal permission in the manifest file. Giving better controls and providing developers with a standard system to continue to monetize their apps. It enables users to reset their identifier or opt-out of personalized ads within Google Play applications”.

Google has stated they will provide support to essential use cases such as fraud prevention (indeed a growing concern arising after Apple’s ATT), with an alternate solution being detailed next month. 

Enhanced User Power and Preferences for Android Devices

In a separate announcement, Google unveiled a new privacy feature that will be implemented in 2022. Similar to Apple’s privacy ‘nutrition label’ feature, Google will look to help users understand the data an app collects/shares, with a new safety section in Google Play Services. Giving users more visibility & control of who they are permitting access to, what they are sharing and how this affects their security & privacy.

Google will share details about each app publisher’s security practices, including whether they follow its Family Policy, and what data encryption is adopted. Key privacy protection elements will be made explicit on the Play Store, indicating for example whether the app needs the data requested to function and whether the user has a choice in what they share. Within the Play Store, all the app’s information safety will be verified by an independent third party, and users will be given the possibility to request data deletion when uninstalling an app.

Mobile Mergers & Acquisitions

With the mobile app industry booming even (and especially) through the pandemic, and getting increasingly tech and data demanding, it is no surprise that the M&A scene has been so active this year. Some of that activity may have been unexpected, exposing conflicts of interest throughout the industry as a growing number of ‘third party providers’ merges into first-party players.

Zynga continued to flex its muscle with their acquisition of Chartboost expected to close next quarter. The gaming giant sought to acquire the mobile advertising & monetization platform due to Chartboost’s monthly user base of over 700 million and over 90 billion monthly advertising auctions.

Skillz is leading the way in multiplayer mobile competition. The eSports giant is expected to close a merger of Aarki in Q3 this year. Bringing together Aarki’s tech & access to their 465 million monthly users, the DSP looks set to bolster Skillz user acquisition capabilities.

These new tactical alignments, following on from recent IPOs (AppLovin, ironSource, Unity) and acquisitions (Applovin – Adjust, Twitter – CrossInstall, ironSource – Luna Labs, Digital Turbine – AdColony & Fyber – Appreciate), highlight an exciting time for movement within mobile which is largely due to the prosperity and continued growth of the industry. The deprecation of device identifiers across iOS and Android is likely to lead to further movement and shuffling, with cutting-edge ad tech becoming an increasingly necessary weapon to remain relevant & ahead of the game. The industry-wide disruption is leading to unlikely allegiances and is fueling a flurry of activity that looks set to continue. Tech is the path to exploring new niches, data collection methods & revenue streams in these times of change.

Apple Ads on the rise?

Apple remains adamant about their commitment to facilitate the best customer experience through ad-free products and services. However, growing opportunities for advertisers are being rolled out within the app store & native iOS apps. With their active disruption of the industry, many expect Apple to be investing in their own ad platform. This theory has been supported by their hiring of Antonio Garcia Martinez, former Product Manager for Facebook’s ad team. Antonio, an entrepreneur, and author of “Chaos Monkeys” (which in part detailed his time building Facebook’s now-defunct real-time bidding ad exchange), has joined Apple to work with the App Store & Apple News advertising team. Meanwhile, Apple’s intention to shift a growing focus toward App Store Optimization for user acquisition purposes is corroborated by the recent announcement of ‘custom product pages’ for different audiences.

After briefly running its “iAd” in-app ad platform between 2010 and 2016, Apple decided to refocus its advertising efforts toward App Store discoverability through the establishment of Apple Search Ads, its current ad solution – and the only one left with ‘personalization’ powers without scary opt-in popups.

With their new App Tracking Transparency feature reportedly being adopted by about 20% of the iOS user population so far, we are all curious to see what’s next in this already strategically intriguing time for the Mountain View giant.

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