A History of Ad Tech Chapter 4: The Privacy Reckoning

In the early days of ad tech, privacy wasn’t a top priority. The excitement from the white heat of technological advancement meant there was too much money to be made as the new millennium dawned.

Investors giddy at the prospect of striking gold with “the next Google” were all eager to lay to rest the infamous John Wanamaker adage with the power of data and ad tech. Marketers, eager to establish a new consumer engagement paradigm, fueled this demand.

Although, at the dawn of the 2010s, such enthusiasm became moderated, giving way to the contemporary mood, which is more tempered by public concerns over privacy. And governments are responding accordingly.

Even the scions of Big Tech (publicly, at least) have been subdued by this zeitgeist, as recent years have seen both Apple and Google introduce restrictions to their respective ecosystems. At the same time, obscure terms such as Privacy Sandbox, Intelligent Tracking Protection, and App Tracking Transparency have caused much chagrin across the industry.

At the mercy of Big Tech

Now, as the industry stands on the precipice of 2024, it is 12 months away from arguably its most seismic overhaul as Google prepares to roll back support for third-party cookies, a.k.a. the data that has become the lifeblood of the digital media ecosystem, in its market-leading web browser Chrome.

Google is not the only Big Tech provider to have made such moves: Look at how Apple has torn asunder the business prospects for third-party marketing services in its ecosystem with the rollout of ATT and ITP in recent years.

However, Google’s further foray into privacy protection (in the guise of its Privacy Sandbox initiative) could have a more profound impact on the digital marketing industry. After all, compare Chrome’s market dominance of the web browser market (64%) to its

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How to delete your history on the Google Play Store

We all search for apps we are not proud of

Google tracks your activity across its services, including the Play Store. Your searches on the Play Store are stored and show up as recent searches. While this feature saves time, you may not always want to be reminded of your previous searches. Google also keeps a record of every app you ever downloaded on your smartphone or affordable Android tablet. However, you can get rid of your search queries and download history whenever you want. This guide walks you through how to delete your Google Play Store history.


How to delete your Google Play Store search history

Deleting your Google Play Store search history is a good idea if you don’t find it useful. While you can delete your Google search history from your desktop, you’ll need an Android device to delete your Play Store history. Also, there isn’t a way to deactivate the search history, so you must delete it manually after each new search.

Follow the steps below to delete your Google Play Store search history using your Android smartphone.

  1. Open the Google Play Store app.
  2. Tap your profile icon in the upper-right corner.
  3. In the menu that opens, tap the Settings option.
  4. Select General and tap the Account and device preferences option.
  5. Scroll down to the History section and tap the Clear device search history option.
  6. In the menu that pops up, select Clear history to continue. This removes all previous searches within the Google Play Store.

How to delete your Google Play Store app download History

Google keeps a list of the apps you downloaded from the Play Store, even if they aren’t installed on your phone anymore. This history helps Google make your searches more relevant and faster if you ever want to reinstall an

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Google Keep’s Android app is getting formatting tools and version history

Good news for Android-toting Google Keep users: you’re finally getting the text formatting options the app has so desperately needed for years. Google announced this week that the ability to bold, italicize, and otherwise transform text in your notes is rolling out now, and you should start to see it in the app soon. (I don’t have it yet, but Mishaal Rahman and a few others actually spotted the feature ahead of its official launch, so it seems to be coming fast.)

The new Keep features are more in the “should have been here all along” category than they are shiny new things, but they’re still a welcome addition to the app. And actually, Google has been paying an unusual amount of attention to Keep recently: users got a new homescreen widget earlier this year, and you can now open multiple Keep windows at a time on your device. Google’s also slowly rolling out version history so you can see all the changes you’ve made to your notes over time.

Keep is, if you didn’t already know, an excellent note-taking app. It’s fast, available on Android, iOS, and the web, and it manages to be both extremely simple and quite clever. Paste a link into a note, and the card reformats as a rich preview so you know exactly what it is. A single-line note just looks like a Post-it, but a longer note looks more like a document. You can draw in a note; you can record audio in a note; you can set reminders in a note! And because this is a Google product we’re talking about, it’s all searchable and accessible in the sidebar of a bunch of other Google products.

The new formatting options make Keep even more powerful — while still being super simple.
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Google Play now shows ads, events in search history

Ads already appear throughout the Play Store, and Google is now showing them when you start a search, alongside other visual tweaks.

When you tap the Google Play search bar at the top of the app, you previously just saw your last four queries. Now, you might see up to three “limited-time events as well as sponsored suggestions,” with past searches appearing below that.

Limited-time events are an existing tool used to promote streaming apps that might have a particularly interesting sporting match later in the day or in-game events. They often appear as cards in the Play Store’s main feeds. They are now surfaced in search history with app name, icon, rating, and download count.

Additionally, Google Play is also showing “sponsored suggestions” that are explicitly labeled as an “Ad,” though some users would consider limited-timed events to be essentially the same thing. Both types disappear as you start typing your search.

Moving search history further down the list is unfortunate and telling in terms of company priorities. Meanwhile, a small tweak sees more prominent icons next to past queries for easier sorting.

This change was announced in the April Google System Updates changelog and has been rolling out in recent weeks. (We first spotted a variant of it in November 2022.) Google this week also detailed other Play Store additions, including “key app and game highlights from what others are saying” in Play search results.

You can also get “apps and games to download over cellular data from the download notification while waiting for Wi-Fi.”

More on Google Play:

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