You’ve got be living under a rock if you haven’t yet found out how Google tracks Android users even when the location services are turned off. This is not the kind of news that only circulate online and among enthusiasts. If that made you trust Google any lesser than you already did it is quite understandable. Speaking of being tracked by Google, you’re bound to come across ads on your Android smartphone. Many of the free apps on the Play Store are ad-supported. These ads are personalized based on what Google thinks you might be interested in. Luckily the big G does provide a way to Opt out of ads personalization.
Even if you do still trust Google, the amount of data the company collects for these ads can be unsettling. To offer personalizes ads the company stores all your data in a data packet attached to a unique identifier which is called advertising ID. Think of it like the tag they put on your stuff at the airport. This data packet contains bits of your browsing habits and history, information about your location and app usage, etc. All of this is supposedly anonymous but nobody can really blame you if you don’t believe that anymore.
Google does not sell your data to the highest bidder though. Instead, it sells ad space to potential customers and promises them to match their ads with users potentially interested in it. And for that, Google uses your advertising ID. So in a way your data is Google’s golden hen and selling it out is like killing the hen. Something the company probably won’t do even if it was evil.
So those were the two sides of this hypothetical coin. Still, if you’re really concerned, you have the option to opt out of personalized ads. You will of course still see ads, they will just not be personalized.
Opt out of ads personalization on Android
To opt out, go to your device’s main Settings and scroll down until you find the entry labeled as Google. This is usually found under the sub-heading Personal. Depending on the OEM skin on your device this entry could be renamed to something similar to Google services or be completely removed from the main Settings page. In that case, unless you already know where it is you can use the search button in the top-right corner. Then again, some OEM skins replace the button with a bar and place it at the very top of the page instead of the Toolbar.
Once you find the said entry, select Ads right under the Services sub-heading. Toggle off the switch next to Opt out of ads personalization. A pop up will appear explaining that you will still be seeing ads, just tap OK. You can also see your unique advertising ID here which from now on will not be used to build an advertising profile. You will also not see targeted ads anymore in any apps.
Now that you’ve opted out, there is still no proof really that Google won’t be tracking you. I mean, you thought so about the location tracking and everyone knows how that turned out.
Related reading: How to Block Redirect Ads in Google Chrome
Reset advertising ID
You may notice an entry with the same name at the very top of the same page (Settings > Google > Ads). If you tap on Reset advertising ID and then tap OK on the pop-up dialog box, it will remove the data that was already collected from your app and internet usage. But that does not guarantee it will forever stay that way. As soon as you do this, you will notice a new advertising ID has been now created. You can see that in the screenshots below.
Is Google really not collecting any new information about you? Is it not? We can’t say anything with hundred percent confidence. Your best bet would be to just come back to this page and keep resetting your advertising ID every month, week or day depending on how concerned you are.