Mobile Tutorial Series – What is an Android Advertising ID?

By John Koetsier January 1, 2017

Android Advertising ID is a device identifier for advertisers to use in anonymously tracking user ad activity on Android devices. An Android Advertising ID is somewhat analogous to a third-party advertising cookie, in that it enables an advertiser to understand that a user of a particular phone has taken an ad 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. 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.

Semi-Permanent Device Identifiers

Third-party cookies, which are commonly used on the PC web for tracking, tend to have short life spans – anything from one to thirty days on average. By contrast, the Android Advertising ID doesn’t change unless a user decides to change it in their Android device 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 based at least in part on ad interaction data.

Android ID (ANDI) and Android Advertising ID

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 Android Advertising ID is that it provides consumer choice.

An Android ID is a permanent device number. Before the Android Advertising ID, the Android ID was what was shared with advertisers when consumers took actions. What’s more, sharing it could not be turned off. By contrast, today’s Android users have the option to opt out of Android Advertising ID tracking or to change their IDs periodically.

Using Android Advertising ID

When consumers take actions because of ads, like clicking on a banner in an app, playing a video in an app, or installing an app, media companies can pass the Android Advertising ID with information about the consumer action that took place because of the advertising. 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. Singular helps advertisers by associating in-app consumer actions and marketing programs to these semi-permanent identifiers. This helps advertisers understand the effectiveness of their marketing and create powerful customer profiles to understand their audiences.

Using Android Advertising IDs and app attribution tools like that offered as part of the Singular Platform, marketers can understand which campaigns, ad executions, and media partners were responsible for desirable consumer actions. Using these insights, they can calculate the ROI for all of their ads and tactics, and optimize their campaigns and ads to the most profit-generating tools. The Android Advertiser ID also enables a marketer to target specific individuals that have taken actions in the past on their mobile devices. For example:

  • Target people who have installed an Android app and deliver advertising that makes them relaunch the app.
  • Create an audience of lapsed users and advertise to them on their Android phones to get them to come back to the app.
  • Identify the people who have abandoned items in shopping carts, and advertise to them to get them to come back and complete their purchases.

This sort of individual targeting is becoming increasingly common as programmatic media and social media advertising grow in popularity for the marketing of apps.

Download The Singular ROI Index to see the world’s first ranking of ad networks by app ROI.

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