The Basics of Android Advertising ID

07/01/15

Since yesterday’s post, an introduction to IDFA, generated so much interest, we’ll continue the education theme this week by providing an introduction to Android Advertising ID.

Android Advertising ID is a device identifier for advertisers to use in anonymously understanding user activity on Android devices. An Android Advertising ID is somewhat analogous to an advertising cookie, in that it enables an advertiser to understand that a user of a particular phone has taken an action, like a click or an app install. Android Advertising IDs take the place of cookies in mobile advertising delivered to Android devices because cookies are problematic in the mobile world. For more information on why cookies don’t work in mobile, refer to our “Take 5” eguide entitled, Why Do They Say Cookies Don’t Work in Mobile?

Advertisers want to be able to associate advertising actions to specific, anonymized individuals. Android Advertising IDs (and their iPhone siblings, IDFAs) help an advertiser identify the specific phone where the ad action takes place. Third-party cookies, which are commonly used on the PC web for tracking, tend to have short life spans – anything from 1 to 30 days on average.

By contrast, the Android Advertising ID doesn’t change unless a user decides to change it in their phone settings. Few consumers feel a need to take this action, so Android Advertising IDs can offer a better foundation for a persistent and anonymized consumer profile. Also, an advertising ID is the same for all of the apps and browsers on a phone, so it can be a powerful way to aggregate customer behavior across all of these disconnected environments. Thus, device IDs like Android Advertising ID and IDFA are very useful as the foundation for customer profiles in data management platforms, or DMPs. They enable a brand to accurately aggregate data about a customer to a specific, anonymized profile.

Before Android Advertising ID, advertisers could track actions on Android phones using a device identifier called Android ID (or ANDI.) The big advantage for the Advertiser ID over an ANDI is that it provides consumer choice. An Android ID is a permanent device number, and sharing it could not be turned off. By contrast, users have the option to opt out of Android Advertising ID tracking, or to change their ID periodically. If an app is downloaded from Google Play, it has an Android Advertising ID. If the app is downloaded from another store, tracking and measurement companies like Apsalar are permitted to track using the ANDI, but must not connect the Android Advertising ID to the ANDI.

When consumers take actions as a result of ads, like clicking a banner, playing a video, or installing an app, media companies can pass the Android Advertising ID with information about the consumer action that took place. Most media companies do pass Android Advertising IDs. Some media companies, including some large social networks, do not pass device IDs to advertisers, but do allow you to target specific IDs within their properties. Apsalar helps advertisers by associating in-app and omni-channel consumer actions to these semi-permanent identifiers. This helps them create powerful customer profiles and rich audience understanding, in addition to juxtaposing the relative performance of different media vendors. The Android Advertiser ID also enables an advertiser to individually target audiences of specific individuals that have taken actions in the past. This sort of individual targeting is becoming increasingly common as programmatic media and social media advertising grow in popularity.

You can download a PDF of this content here.

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