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5 crucial insights from mobile leaders on privacy-first advertising



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February 27, 2024 | 11 min read

The tracking of mobile device IDs is currently being phased out to ensure better protection of user data. For app marketers and their advertising partners, it’s a major adjustment. In this article, we share five need-to-know insights from the industry’s top mobile leaders.

Digital advertising is undergoing a global shift to limit the sharing of user data among third parties. Brands who rely on this data for their campaigns – and their advertising partners who leverage it for targeting purposes – must now rethink their strategies and adjust their tech stacks to prepare for the privacy-first era. These changes are felt everywhere, but particularly in the realm of programmatic mobile advertising, where individual in-app ad placements are sold and bought in algorithmically-driven virtual auctions. 

As regulation and consumer demand accelerates the shift towards privacy, mobile tech providers like Apple and Google are launching new advertising frameworks to make the buying and selling of in-app ad placements more privacy-centric. In 2021, Apple launched their App Tracking Transparency framework (ATT) and Google is now following suit with their Privacy Sandbox initiative – a series of APIs enabling the programmatic buying and selling of ads to take place directly on the user’s mobile device, thus protecting their data.

As an advertising partner for some of the world’s biggest app businesses, and a key contributor to the testing and development of Google’s Privacy Sandbox for Android, Remerge has spent much of the last few years documenting the latest in mobile privacy news. Along the way, we’ve worked with some of the most influential names in mobile and have spoken to renowned industry leaders. 

Here are five key insights from the world’s most recognized voices on mobile ad privacy.

1. Advertisers should get clued up now to prepare for the privacy-first era

Allison Schiff is the managing editor of AdExchanger, a leading source for news, analysis, and events dedicated to the data-driven marketing technology industry. As a journalist in the programmatic space, Allison closely follows Apple and Google’s policies – and reports on app tracking, measurement, attribution, and retail media. She was recently featured in an episode of Remerge’s Apptivate podcast called The privacy saga: Apple v Google. In the episode, she shares some advice for advertisers operating in the mobile industry today: 

“The best way to be prepared is to be mentally prepared. You have to know that workarounds aren’t a sustainable strategy and that change is constant, so prepare yourself for that and don’t get too comfortable. Talk to people in your industry and educate yourself by reading voraciously. Platforms are going to continue to make privacy changes to chip away at cross-app and cross-site tracking. They are going to keep on paying attention to what’s happening in the online ad industry, so you need to take action.”

2. The transition to privacy-centric mobile advertising relies on the collaboration of all industry vendors

Pan Katsukis, CEO of Remerge, is among the mobile industry’s most prominent thought-leaders – particularly when it comes to mobile privacy. Speaking at an event alongside FinTech apps N26 and Trade Republic, here’s what he had to say about Google’s approach to Google's Privacy Sandbox rollout for Android: 

“The Sandbox, when looking at it and comparing it with the ATT setup, is much more complex. This is because they are trying to add retargeting and re-engagement. Everything happens on-device, so data is not being shared among third parties. This means Remerge needs to update its tech stack, which is a big investment. 

"The biggest difference compared to ATT, is that every vendor is working together on supporting the Android Privacy Sandbox. Remerge has a team of eight people in R&D who have been working on the Sandbox for over a year. Google is very cooperative and we have weekly calls with them, which we don’t have with Apple. 

"Also, a lot of things are happening in the background to make the transition work, but advertisers and marketers only need to wait for the tools that support the whole setup. They won’t need to change much because the tools they are already using will stay largely the same. 

The challenge is getting the whole industry to transition. Hopefully, in the future, we’ll have a solid infrastructure which is privacy-friendly and scalable. Then there is no consent discussion, everything is protected and data doesn’t move from left to right between partners.”

3. Google’s Privacy Sandbox won’t just benefit end users, but businesses too 

In an episode of Remerge’s Apptivate podcast, entitled ‘The future of privacy-safe advertising on Android’, Amit Varia, director of product management at Google, talks about how to get everyone in the industry on board with the Android Privacy Sandbox: 

“The key questions that app businesses should be asking their partners are: how are you planning for a privacy-first future and when can you start testing? This will help encourage the ecosystem to invest in the space. 

"As we spend time with the ecosystem, work through use cases and invest more into looking at the APIs, integrating them into existing solutions, or building new solutions on top of them, we will better understand the industry itself. This is why we are taking a super collaborative approach. It’s to ensure that the industry and the ecosystem comes along with us, and is ready for when we announce the updates. 

"We see this as a journey. With solutions that better protect user privacy, the evolution over the coming years is going to be a net benefit for everybody. We see it as a benefit to users, with increased privacy and transparency in all aspects. We also see the opportunities for businesses to build on privacy enhancing technologies, like the Privacy Sandbox. 

"We often talk about rebuilding and migrating existing use cases but we’re also starting to hear about new opportunities for ad tech to help app developers monetize and reach their audiences using these technologies with greater accuracy and more capabilities. By moving to more private solutions, some of the things that were harder to do before, are now easier to do in a more private way.”

4. Failure to adapt to privacy-centric advertising will likely lead to negative long-term business impact

Güven Soydan, former VP of product at Remerge, has led several product teams throughout his 14-year career in digital advertising. In a recent interview, he discusses why advertisers must pay attention to privacy changes across the mobile industry

“Advertisers should prioritize privacy because it aligns with their customers' desires. The global free-market has often operated on a ‘push the boundaries until you're stopped’ principle. While this may not change soon, experience shows that in the long haul, companies attentive to their customers' needs and concerns are those who tend to prosper most. They win business by delivering high-quality products and services at prices their customers are willing to pay. Likewise, advertising that respects privacy boundaries fosters healthier long-term relationships with potential and existing customers.

"Beyond this ethical imperative, there are also practical considerations. Privacy-first advertising necessitates changes to algorithms, database infrastructures, in-app event collection technologies, relations with third-party technology providers, and segmentation decisions. Failure to adapt to a privacy-first approach, both in compliance and transformation, can lead to significant long-term business impact. Working with the right partners and building skilled teams internally to navigate this shift is crucial. The earlier that businesses start this transition, the better – as expertise in this area will be a valuable strategic investment for the future.”

5. Privacy-compliant mobile advertising partners are the key to navigating data regulation in mobile advertising

As part of a dedicated privacy series on The Drum magazine, Christian Eustermann, general counsel at Remerge, explains how mobile platforms help today’s advertisers – and what the risks are when it comes to picking a new programmatic advertising partner to work with: 

“Mobile advertising partners continue to play an important role in helping businesses navigate the nuances of in-app advertising, from user targeting to optimized bidding processes that ensure your ads engage the right people, for the best possible price. To execute these campaigns however, mobile advertising partners rely on the first-party data of their clients, which makes it incredibly important for both parties to comply with data privacy regulations. The clients (or rather advertisers), who are the first touchpoint for collecting their customer’s data are (according to GDPR) ‘data controllers’ because they determine how and to what extent the data is used.

"Mobile advertising partners can also be data controllers, but they too require consent from their clients’ customers. Whether they become a ‘joint controller’ is ultimately established with the client in the ‘data processing agreement’. However, allowing a third party (such as an advertising partner) to take control of a clients’ first party data comes with its own risks. Doing so would allow the advertising partner to determine how the data is used, which could be done to further their own agendas rather than those of their clients. An example would be if the advertising partner used customer data from one client, to improve another client’s campaigns.”


The shift toward privacy-centric mobile advertising is going to impact all corners of the industry. Experts encourage advertisers to stay as informed as possible, in order to prepare for the rollout of these new technologies. 

While the transition has its complexities and will rely on the collaboration of all industry players, it’s expected to benefit end users as well as advertisers in the long run. Failure to keep up with the changes will likely do more harm than good, so it’s essential for advertisers to work with privacy-compliant programmatic partners who play an active role in the development of the tools behind this emerging mobile ad ecosystem.


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