· 8 min read

How We’re Prepared for Google’s Identifier Policy Change

Google is updating how you use their Advertising ID (AAID). We have a new SDK for Flutter. And we’re redesigning our platform. Here’s what’s new at GameAnalytics.

This is a slightly longer product update than you’re probably used to. The main thing is you need to update your Android SDKs, in anticipation for Google’s upcoming policy update around their identifiers.

But we have a lot more to get through, too. So let’s waste no time on intro’s, and tuck straight into our updates. Anything you want to read about in particular, feel free to jump ahead:

Let’s get to it.

First up, Google is changing how you use identifiers for Android

Privacy in tech is a pretty hot topic at the moment. It’s constantly evolving. Earlier this year, we saw Apple make changes on their iOS identifier. And now Google will soon be changing how developers use the Advertising ID (AAID).

You can read more about Google’s policy change here. But in short:

  • You’ll see less Advertising IDs: If a user opts out of ad personalization, you’ll no longer have access to the Advertising ID (AAID, also called GAID). Instead, you’ll see a string of 0’s.
  • Google is introducing App Set ID: This is to help you identify unique users for the purpose of analytics (among other non-advertising purposes). This identifier is still in ‘preview-mode’ at the moment. But it’s intended to potentially help you identify users between apps from the same vendor (so your portfolio of games). But it may be limited, and we don’t know how useful it’ll be yet. Here’s their docs.
  • These changes will start soon: They’ll be rolled out in phases starting late 2021.

We’ve been preparing for this for a while. You’re going to need to update any SDK targeting Android devices ASAP, which you can do here. But here’s some more information about the changes, and how we’re getting ready.

How we’re ready for Google’s upcoming release

We’ve been preparing for this ever since Apple’s announcement for iOS 15. But before we go into the nitty-gritty details, we need to give you a quick recap on how we track users (feel free to skip if you’re already up-to-speed).

How we track users on Android

At the moment, we create a unique identifier for each device that sends data to GameAnalytics. We call this the GameAnalytics User ID. We usually get this value from a device identifier. And if that’s not available, then we create a random User ID when that person installs an app, and we then assign it to that device.

For Android, our SDK has used Android’s Advertising ID (AAID) for identifying unique devices (that is, assigning the user_id).

In preparation of Google’s upcoming release, we have made changes in how we identify devices. Before, we used AAID. But now, our SDKs will instead generate a randomized user ID on the first app launch and keep using this user_id for all future activity.

How this affects you

  1. For new Android installs in your game using GA SDK v7.+ → Your game metrics shouldn’t be affected. We’ll assign the new user_id based on our new identifier logic.
  2. For existing Android installs in your game which update to GA SDK v7.+ → These will continue to use our previous identifier logic (that is, we’ll continue to assign user_id from AAID). This may impact your metrics when Google restricts AAID. This means for the players that do not consent, Google will not return AAID, and it’ll change our user_id to a random one. You’ll see them as new users in GameAnalytics. And for a short time during the transition period, you may see an impact on certain metrics like retention, new users, returning users.
  3. For existing Android installs in your game which don’t update → If users are on SDK 6.6.0+, then their devices should start using a randomised identifier. If their SDK is below 6.6.0, then for the users that do not consent, they will all end up with the same identifier (0’s). Unfortunately, these will have a high impact on your metrics.

You need to update your SDK as soon as possible

To avoid scenario three, we highly recommend you update your SDKs. It’ll make your transition a lot smoother when Google releases their update.

Update your SDKs here. Please note, for Unity, you’ll want version 7.+.

This has impacted our Attribution Integrations

At the moment, we support postbacks from all of our attribution partners (you can read more about this here). Which means when one of our attribution partners informs us of an app install, we can stamp our events data with attribution dimensions (essentially where that user came from). This lets you filter your data in GameAnalytics by different install campaigns, and other install dimensions you may use.

We’re able to do this by using identifiers that we and our partners track. It lets us match all of the data together accurately. But as the industry is shifting (take Android’s upcoming AAID changes as an example), we’re no longer able to rely 100% on these cross-app identifiers. Which affects how our attribution integrations work.

We’re still evaluating the impact this will have on our attribution data. But we’ve listed out what this means for you just below.

What does this mean for you?

  • iOS → The integration will not work optimally for devices that are on iOS14.5+.
  • Android → Currently this still works as expected, but we anticipate that this will be impacted when Google releases their new AAID policy later in 2021.

For iOS15, Apple suggests that developers should add a URL to also send the SKAdNetwork conversion postback. This is Apple’s own solution for Attribution. We’re currently planning and working on solutions to provide insights into SKAdNetwork data (conversion values etc.).

Other updates to note

We’ve released a new Flutter SDK

Our family of SDKs is growing. We’ve just created a new one for Flutter, Google’s UI toolkit for crafting beautiful, natively compiled applications for mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase.

Our SDK currently supports Android, iOS, and Web Flutter builds. It uses native Android and iOS libraries which means it will send native device identifiers with the events.

To get started, you can download and follow our integration guide here.

We’ve added TopOn to our ad network providers

We’ve been adding more and more partners to our list of ad revenue providers recently. At the moment, we’re working with MoPub, Fyber, ironSource, Aequus and Applovin MAX.

And in the next few days, you’ll also see TopOn added to the mix. You can find the docs to get started here: Unity, iOS, Android. And once you’re all suited and booted, you can head straight to the Ads Dashboard in your GameAnalytics account for a predefined view of ad revenue in your game. Or query for the metrics data in detail in the Explore Tool.

We’ve also added new ad revenue metrics

We’ve added two additional ad revenue metrics in the Explore Tool: Ad Revenue (Total) and Impressions (Total). If you’ve enabled impression events from multiple supported providers in your game, then these metrics will give you a combined view of your impression-level data.

We’re giving our tool a facelift

Lastly, we’ve redesigned the Explore Tool in our GameAnalytics platform. We’ll soon release the early versions of this new updated feature inside GA Labs. With the early designs of our Dashboards feature soon to follow in a couple of months.

We want to build the next-gen analytics tool. And this is the next step to rebuilding and redesigning our platform. These are still early-stage designs. So if you have any thoughts on our new look, then we’d love to pick your brain. Let us know what you think.

That’s it for now. As we’ve mentioned, we’d love to hear from you. So share your feedback and ideas here. And when you’re ready, log into your account to get started.

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