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Google sucker-punches Meta with ad changes that could cost Zuckerberg billions

Google is kicking Meta while it’s down. The search giant said Wednesday that it plans to restrict cross-app tracking on mobile devices that use its Android operating system — a move that will likely deal a blow to Meta’s business model by reducing the effectiveness of Facebook and Instagram ads. The news comes after Apple began letting iPhone users opt out of cross-app tracking last year — a move that Meta said during an earnings call earlier this month would cost the social media giant a whopping $10 billion in 2022. Meta’s shares fell 3.5% on Wednesday morning after Google revealed its plans, adding to an eye-watering rout of 33% over the past month that has wiped out more than $300 billion of the company’s market value. “This is another body blow for Facebook,” Wedbush Securities managing director Dan Ives told The Post. “Google and Apple are together taking down Facebook in a way the Beltway could only dream of.” Apple’s privacy changes have made it more difficult for Meta to target ads to iPhone users by, for example, hitting an Instagram user with an advertisement for the same pair of jeans she previously viewed on another website. As a result, advertisers have been forced to spend more money on less effective ads to potential customers through Meta’s apps — potentially leading some companies to put their ad dollars elsewhere. Adding similar restrictions to Android devices could be similarly damaging for Meta, which is heavily reliant on digital ad revenue despite Mark Zuckerberg’s attempt to pivot to the metaverse. In a blog post announcing Google’s plans, the company’s vice president of Android product management Anthony Chavez wrote that digital advertising plays a “key role” in supporting the internet — but added that “the industry must continue to evolve how digital advertising works to improve user privacy.” “These solutions will limit sharing of user data with third parties and operate without cross-app identifiers, including advertising ID,” Chavez said. But the company also promised to work with digital advertising companies and appeared to imply its changes will not be as disruptive or abrupt as those made by Apple. In response to Google’s plans, Facebook’s vice president of ads and business product marketing Graham Mudd played nice in a tweet that Meta said represents its official statement. “Encouraging to see this long-term, collaborative approach to privacy-protective personalized advertising from Google,” Mudd said. “We look forward to continued work with them and the industry on privacy-enhancing tech through industry groups.”

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