The Play Store is full of free apps but even though you don’t have to pay a dime to use them, they still get revenue by displaying ads. These aren’t random ads either – Google will show you the services and products you might be interested in.
The tech giant collects a wealth of data from your mobile device to deliver personalized ads. This might seem convenient for both users and developers but not when it comes to protecting your privacy.
To collect this data, Google relies on an advertising ID – this ensures you remain (theoretically) anonymous. For you, it might not be so important, but it is for Google. They sell ad space promising the buyers that users will see relevant ads matched to their personal interests using the data linked to their advertising IDs.
Luckily, it is possible to disable ad tracking on Android – you’ll still see ads but they won’t be displayed based on your interests since Google won’t be using the data to serve personalized ads.
How to disable ad tracking on Android
To disable ad tracking on Android start by navigating to Settings -> Google. Your phone’s manufacturer may have changed the location of this setting so if it’s not there on your device just use the search function to find it.
To continue, select “Ads” and enable the option called “Opt out of Ads Personalization”.
From then on, apps installed on your device won’t use the data linked to your advertising ID to show ads based on your interest. However, Google will collect the data and you’ll see only random ads.
Reset your Advertising ID
This step isn’t necessary but it’s recommended if you care about your privacy. When you reset your Advertising ID you delete the data that was already collected from your Internet and app usage. Obviously, this only removes the data collected in the past. Google will assign you a new Advertising ID and start collecting data again so it’s a good idea to reset the Advertising ID on a regular basis.
On the same “Ads” page in the Settings app there is an option called “Reset advertising ID” right at the top. Tap it and you’ll be assigned a new Advertising ID.
When it comes to protecting your privacy the more often you reset the Advertising ID the better. However, I realize it can be tiresome to do this every day, so weekly would be a decent time interval.