Once third-party cookies are phased out, Google will not build or use alternate identifiers to track users across the web, the company announced  on Wednesday. It also reiterated that its web products will be driven by the Federated Learning of Cohorts  (FLoC) API, which groups people with similar interests into cohorts so that advertisers can still serve relevant ads while providing a degree of individual privacy.
Why we care
Google seems committed to its Privacy Sandbox, the company’s initiative to set new standards for targeted advertising, emphasizing user privacy. As an alternative to third-party cookies, FLoC is a major part of that, so advertisers may have to get accustomed to this new method of targeting, especially if alternate identifiers prove to be unviable.
“People shouldn’t have to accept being tracked across the web in order to get the benefits of relevant advertising. That is why Chrome made the decision to deprecate support for third-party cookies. We believe that aggregate and de-identified methods being developed in the Privacy Sandbox can effectively monetize web publishers,” a Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land.
FLoC has the potential to make attribution and cross-channel data even harder for search marketers, though. FLoC is Chrome-based and therefore won’t be a part of a multi-channel advertising ecosystem. It also brings into question for consumers–if Google’s AI and ML are distributing customers into FLoC cohorts, will the individual data be available to Google?
For larger brands, this situation makes a compelling case for gathering first-party data, through email signups, CRM data, rewards programs, etc., which can be used to learn more about their customers or retarget them.
More on the news
- In January 2020, Google announced that it would end support for third-party cookies  in the Chrome browser within two years.
- In October 2020, the company released findings from a preliminary study testing audience cohorts  . The test “does show early proof of concept, that it is possible to deliver both personalization and privacy” in a post-cookie world, said Chetna Bindra, Google senior product manager, user trust and privacy.
- Google expects to begin testing FLoC-based cohorts with advertisers  in Google Ads sometime during Q2 of this year. “Our tests show that advertisers can expect to see at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising,” the company said in its announcement.
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